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Unit outline_

MATH4314: Representation Theory

Semester 1, 2024 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

Representation theory is the abstract study of the possible types of symmetry in all dimensions. It is a fundamental area of algebra with applications throughout mathematics and physics: the methods of representation theory lead to conceptual and practical simplification of any problem in linear algebra where symmetry is present. This unit will introduce you to the basic notions of modules over associative algebras and representations of groups, and the ways in which these objects can be classified. You will learn the special properties that distinguish the representation theory of finite groups over the complex numbers, and also the unifying principles which are common to the representation theory of a wider range of algebraic structures. By learning the key concepts of representation theory you will also start to appreciate the power of category-theoretic approaches to mathematics. The mental framework you will acquire from this unit of study will enable you both to solve computational problems in linear algebra and to create new mathematical theory.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit Mathematics and Statistics Academic Operations
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge

Familiarity with abstract algebra, specifically vector space theory and basic group theory, e.g., MATH2922 or MATH2961 or equivalent

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Andrew Mathas,
Lecturer(s) Andrew Mathas,
The census date for this unit availability is 2 April 2024
Type Description Weight Due Length
Supervised exam
Final exam
Final exam consisting of extended answer questions.
60% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO7
Assignment Assignment 1
20% Week 07
Due date: 08 Apr 2024 at 23:59
3 to 5 questions
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5 LO6
Assignment Assignment 2
20% Week 12
Due date: 13 May 2024 at 23:59
3 to 5 questions
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7

Assessment summary

  • Assignments: The assignments will require you to demonstrate ability to apply the theory developed in lectures and tutorials to produce your own arguments or perform calculations with particular classes of objects.
  • Final exam: The exam will cover all material in the unit from both lectures and tutorials. The exam will consist of extended answer questions.

    If a second replacement exam is required, this exam may be delivered via an alternative assessment method, such as a viva voce (oral exam). The alternative assessment will meet the same learning outcomes as the original exam. The format of the alternative assessment will be determined by the unit coordinator. 

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

At HD level, a student demonstrates a flair for the subject as well as a detailed and comprehensive understanding of the unit material. A ‘High Distinction’ reflects exceptional achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates the ability to apply their subject knowledge and understanding to produce original solutions for novel or highly complex problems and/or comprehensive critical discussions of theoretical concepts.


75 - 84

At DI level, a student demonstrates an aptitude for the subject and a well-developed understanding of the unit material. A ‘Distinction’ reflects excellent achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates an ability to apply their subject knowledge and understanding of the subject to produce good solutions for challenging problems and/or a reasonably well-developed critical analysis of theoretical concepts.


65 - 74

At CR level, a student demonstrates a good command and knowledge of the unit material. A ‘Credit’ reflects solid achievement and is awarded to a student who has a broad general understanding of the unit material and can solve routine problems and/or identify and superficially discuss theoretical concepts.


50 - 64

At PS level, a student demonstrates proficiency in the unit material. A ‘Pass’ reflects satisfactory achievement and is awarded to a student who has threshold knowledge.


0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

Support for students

The Support for Students Policy 2023 reflects the University’s commitment to supporting students in their academic journey and making the University safe for students. It is important that you read and understand this policy so that you are familiar with the range of support services available to you and understand how to engage with them.

The University uses email as its primary source of communication with students who need support under the Support for Students Policy 2023. Make sure you check your University email regularly and respond to any communications received from the University.

Learning resources and detailed information about weekly assessment and learning activities can be accessed via Canvas. It is essential that you visit your unit of study Canvas site to ensure you are up to date with all of your tasks.

If you are having difficulties completing your studies, or are feeling unsure about your progress, we are here to help. You can access the support services offered by the University at any time:

Support and Services (including health and wellbeing services, financial support and learning support)
Course planning and administration
Meet with an Academic Adviser

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Motivation and basics of representation theory Lecture and tutorial (4 hr)  
Week 02 Submodules and homomorphisms Lecture and tutorial (4 hr)  
Week 03 Irreducble modules and Maschke's theorem Lecture and tutorial (4 hr)  
Week 04 Filtations and composition series Lecture and tutorial (4 hr)  
Week 05 Schur's lemma and Artin-Wedderburn theory Lecture and tutorial (4 hr)  
Week 06 Indecomposable and projective modules Lecture and tutorial (4 hr)  
Week 07 The structure of the group algebra Lecture and tutorial (4 hr)  
Week 08 Principal indecomposable modules Lecture and tutorial (4 hr)  
Week 09 Composition multiplicities and blocks Lecture and tutorial (4 hr)  
Week 10 The number of irreducible FG-modules Lecture and tutorial (4 hr)  
Week 11 Characters of CG-modules Lecture and tutorial (4 hr)  
Week 12 Representations of symmetric groups Lecture and tutorial (4 hr)  
Week 13 Revision Lecture and tutorial (4 hr)  

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Demonstrate a coherent and advanced understanding of the key concepts of representations of associative algebras, groups and other algebraic structures, and how they provide a unified approach to the study of symmetry.
  • LO2. Apply the fundamental principles and results of representation theory to solve given problems.
  • LO3. Distinguish and compare the properties of different types of representations, analysing them into constituent parts.
  • LO4. Rephrase algebraic problems in representation-theoretic terms and determine the appropriate framework to solve them.
  • LO5. Communicate coherent mathematical arguments appropriately to student and expert audiences, both orally and through written work.
  • LO6. Devise computational solutions to complex problems in representation theory.
  • LO7. Compose correct proofs of unfamiliar general results in representation theory.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

No changes have been made since this unit was last offered


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

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