Alexander Fairley, 
BMS Phase II student,
Qualifying Exam BMS,  
BSc University of Glasgow 

When I was doing my BSc in Scotland, I knew that I wanted to do a PhD. I was not sure however in exactly which field. I was therefore keen to come to the BMS, because I knew that Phase I would enable me to explore many different options. Also, I was excited by the prospect of being able to live in Berlin, which I already knew to be a vibrant city.

The flexibility of the course programme for Phase I meant that I could adapt my studies as my mathematical interests developed. Whilst a lot of time was taken up with coursework and examinations, I also had time to experiment and to find a research topic that interests me.

I attended courses at all three of the mathematics departments of the major Berlin universities that make up the BMS. I was initially registered as an MSc student at Freie Universität Berlin, but I quickly transferred to Technische Universität Berlin when I found a supervisor there for my MSc thesis. One of the advantages of being in a large graduate school is that there are many potential supervisors.

Although the BMS is decentralised, there are many opportunities to meet the students and the professors via the various courses, seminars, colloquiums, summer schools, conferences and social events. The BMS One-Stop Office provides help to navigate the administrative side of the BMS.

I enjoy living in Berlin. The city is good for cycling, even in winter, and I usually cycle everywhere. Berlin does however have an excellent public transportation system. One particular difficulty I faced when I first arrived was finding suitable accommodation.

I am now looking forward to starting Phase II with the same supervisor as for my MSc thesis. I will be working in the geometry group at Technische Universität Berlin which will be an excellent centre for my research. I have been awarded a scholarship from the Leverhulme Trust.

Published in September 2018