In the UK/US people usually don't get an MSc before pursuing a PhD in math. But in other countries getting an MSc before the PhD is the more common case. This raises the following questions regarding how graduate admission committees view applicants with an MSc from countries where it is common to get one. On one hand, seems like an MSc is another "proof of my abilities". On the other hand, the committees may ignore it altogether because they have to compare the applicants by their greatest common ground. When talking about an MSc I mean a two-years program with a thesis.
Can you compare the relative importance (admission-wise) of:
- Course grades (specifically, how important are BSc grades and how important are MSc grades? $(*)$)
- MSc thesis.
- Recommendation letters.
In respect to comparing $(2)$ and $(3)$, I can either try very hard to write the best thesis I can, or alternatively, I can work, in addition to my main thesis, on some smaller scale projects with one or two faculty members other than my advisor, to make sure I get more than one sincere recommendation letter.
$(*)$ I need to know this as I have some freedom to choose which courses will appear where (I have completed more than enough credit during my BSc studies and can move some of the graduate level credit to the MSc).