Course Title: Mathematics for Scientists

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Mathematics for Scientists

Credit Points: 12.00

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


145H Mathematical & Geospatial Sciences


Sem 1 2011,
Sem 1 2012,
Sem 1 2013,
Sem 1 2014,
Sem 1 2015,
Sem 1 2016


City Campus


171H School of Science


Sem 1 2017

Course Coordinator: Yanqun Liu

Course Coordinator Phone: 61 3 9925 2275

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 8-9-26

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

You are expected to have capabilities consistent with the successful completion of any VCE mathematics course at Year 12 level.

Course Description

This course provides the basic mathematical background required by surveyors and geomaticians. The course builds on the foundations laid in secondary school mathematics and aims to prepare you for more advanced mathematics courses that you will take in subsequent years. The topics covered in this course include vectors, matrices, and calculus. There will also be fortnightly practice classes that will help you develop your problem solving capabilities.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development


This course contributes to the following Program Learning Outcomes for BH117 Bachelor of Science (Geospatial Science) (Honours):

Knowledge Capability

  • Demonstrate in-depth understanding of the spatial models and mathematical methods used in contemporary practice.

Technical Capability

  • Proficiently perform computations in two and three dimensions.

Critical Analysis and Problem Solving

  • Design and implement creative solutions to complex problems. Interpret and critically analyse results and make informed judgments on the appropriateness of solutions. Apply critical and analytical skills in a scientific and professional manner.

Communication Skills

  • Communicate effectively by means of oral, written and graphical presentations to peers and a wider audience

Personal and Professional Awareness

  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of professional expectations and ethical requirements. Develop an understanding of the regulatory framework and the general professional environment graduates will encounter, including a commitment to continuing professional development and life-long learning.

Independent and Integrated Practice

  • Be self-motivated and personally responsible for your actions and learning. Work with others and contribute in a constructive manner to group and team activities. Professionally manage and use information.


On completion of this course you should be able to:  


  1. Determine the properties of trigonometric functions;
  2. Represent points in 2D plane and 3D space by their coordinates,  convert between rectangular and polar coordinates in 2D, and calculate distance between points, angles between lines and area of simple geometric figures in 2D plane;
  3. Determine scalar multiple, sum, dot product, cross product of vectors;
  4. Perform matrix operations and evaluate determinant of a square matrix;
  5. Determine solutions of simultaneous equations and find eigenvalues and eigenvectors of a square matrix;
  6. Use matrices to carry out linear transformations in two- and three-dimensions. 

Overview of Learning Activities

You will be engaged in lectures presenting the underlying theory. To interest and motivate you, our lectures are example-driven and application-based. Weekly practice classes are designed to reinforce the material covered in lectures and in your own personal study. We aim to develop your capability to solve problems; allow you to apply mathematical ideas and techniques; test your understanding by exchanging ideas with others and provide opportunities to discuss your progress with teaching staff. You are encouraged to work in teams, but are expected to hand in individual solutions. Student-centred learning features prominently in this course, i.e. through the use of self-help tutorials. A number of homework problems will be set and you should endeavour to accomplish as many of these as required  to obtain proficiency.

Overview of Learning Resources


This course will be supported online using Blackboard, the online learning and teaching platform used at RMIT. Blackboard will give you access to important announcements, a discussion forum, staff contact details, the teaching schedule, online notes, assessment timelines, review exercises and past exam papers. A Library Guide is available at:

Overview of Assessment


Assessment Tasks:


Early Assessment Task: Practice/Lab class exercises (Weeks 3 and 4)

Weighting 6%

This assessment task supports CLOs 1 & 2


Assessment Task 2:  Practice/Lab class exercises (Weeks 5-11)

Weighting 24%

This assessment task supports CLOs 2,3,4,5 & 6


Assessment Task 3:  Mid semester test

Weighting 20%

This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2 & 3


Assessment Task 4: Final exam

Weighting 50% 

This assessment task supports all CLOs