MA40040: Algebraic Topology


This is the home page of MA40040: Algebraic Topology taught by Fran Burstall.

The story so far

I keep a diary of what I covered in lectures. There is also an official syllabus and a reading list.

Here is the timetable. The problem class is on Mondays at 15:15.

Official office hours are on Thursdays 16:15-17:05. That said, any hour that you can find me is an office hour. Drop me an email if you want to guarantee a time that I will be available.

Exercise sheets

Exercise sheets are issued weekly at the problem class and discussed at the next problem class after which solutions will appear here.

I will mark whatever you hand in, no matter when you hand it in, and normally get your work back to you within a week.


This unit is assessed 100% by exam. Generic exam feedback and opportunities for individual exam feedback will be available early in semester 2.

Here are some past examination papers. Solutions are available online and in the Academic Reserve Collection of the Library.

Lecture notes

By public demand and with some misgivings, I am making my lecture notes available in pdf format from the start of the course.

WARNING: these are not a substitute for taking your own careful notes during lectures.


Look here for recordings of lecture, week 3 onwards (with sound from week 5).

Extra Reading

Some articles or other resources that have some vague relevance to the course. For cultural interest only!

Hall of Fame

Here are potted biographies of some of the heroes that built Algebraic Topology:

Henri PoincarĂ© 1854–1912
The last of the great universal mathematicians and the inventor of the fundamental group.
LEJ Brouwer 1881–1966
He of Brouwer Fixed Point Theorem fame.
K Borsuk 1905–1982
Co-discoverer of the Borsuk-Ulam theorem and the inventor of retracts.
Stan Ulam 1909–1984
Co-discoverer of the Borsuk-Ulam theorem, inventor of Monte-Carlo method in statistical sampling and the guy who worked out how to make hydrogen bombs work!

There are many more biographies at the St Andrews history site.


I welcome feedback in the form of constructive comments or criticism.

Problems with this site?

If you encounter any problems while using this site, send me mail describing as completely as you can what has gone wrong.

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Fran Burstall <>
Last modified: Fri Feb 8 08:31:56 GMT 2019