University of Cambridge

Undergraduate

Study

Mathematics

Cambridge is renowned for the excellence of its Mathematics course. Equally challenging and rewarding, it offers the opportunity to study a wide range of subjects: everything from black holes to abstruse logic problems.

UCAS code G100 BA/Math

Duration Three or four years

Colleges Available at all Colleges except Wolfson
Most Colleges don't encourage deferred entry

2013 entry Applications per place: 6
Number accepted: 234

Open days and events 2014 Department open day - 26 April, 3 May, booking required, see the Faculty website
College open days (sciences)
Cambridge Open Days - 3 July, 4 July 2014

Related courses
Contact details 01223 766879
admissions@maths.cam.ac.uk
www.maths.cam.ac.uk

Overview

Flexibility: a course that suits you

The Cambridge Mathematics course is often considered to be the most demanding undergraduate Mathematics course available in Britain and, correspondingly, one of the most rewarding.

Two other aspects of the course that our students greatly appreciate are its flexibility and the breadth of subjects offered. The amount of choice increases each year, and after Year 1 the workload isn't fixed, so you can choose the number of options you study to suit your own work pattern. Some students take as many options as they can; others take fewer and study them very thoroughly.

Our Faculty

Since Sir Isaac Newton was Lucasian Professor (1669-96), mathematics teaching and research here have been enhanced by a string of brilliant mathematicians including six Fields Medallists and even Nobel Prize winners. Most current Faculty members are leading international authorities on their subjects.

Our Faculty is also closely linked with the Isaac Newton Institute, which attracts specialists from all over the world to tackle outstanding problems in the mathematical sciences.

Changing course

About 10 per cent of student change from Mathematics each year. Many of these have taken the Mathematics with Physics option in their first year, with the intention of changing to Physics (Natural Sciences). Over the years, mathematicians have changed successfully to nearly every other subject taught at Cambridge. However, it's not advisable to apply for Mathematics intending to transfer to a subject other than Physics.

Careers

A Cambridge Mathematics degree is versatile and very marketable. The demand for our mathematicians is high in business, commerce and industry, as well as the academic world.

Around 45 per cent of our students go on to further study, while others follow a wide variety of careers. Recent graduates include a metrologist, sports statistician, journalist, and an avionics, radar and communications engineer, as well as teachers, actuaries, accountants, IT specialists, financiers and consultants.

Course outline

In Year 1, you typically have 12 lectures and two supervisions each week. In the following years, the greater choice and flexibility means that the pattern of lectures and supervisions is more irregular, but the average workload is roughly the same.

You sit four written examination papers each year. In addition, there are optional computer projects in Years 2 and 3. In the fourth year, each course is examined individually.

Year 1 (Part IA)

In the first year, you choose one of two pathways:

  • option (a) Pure and Applied Mathematics, for students intending to continue with Mathematics
  • option (b) Mathematics with Physics, for students who may want to study Physics after the first year

You can still continue with Mathematics in the second year if you take option (b).

Part IA introduces you to the fundamentals of higher mathematics, including:

  • the study of algebraic systems (such as groups)
  • analysis of calculus
  • probability
  • mathematical methods (such as vector calculus)
  • Newtonian dynamics and Special Relativity

You take eight subjects. Those taking Mathematics with Physics replace two Mathematics subjects with Part IA Physics from Natural Sciences, covering, for example, kinetic theory, Fourier analysis, and electromagnetism.

Year 2 (Part IB)

In Part IB, you choose from 17 options available. In most of these, the topics of the first year are studied in much greater depth but some new topics are offered, for example:

  • geometry
  • electromagnetism, quantum mechanics and fluid dynamics
  • applicable mathematics, which includes statistics and optimisation (a rigorous treatment of topics from decision mathematics)
  • numerical analysis

There are also optional computational projects (assessed by means of notebooks and programmes submitted before the summer examinations), using computers to solve mathematical problems.

Year 3 (Part II)

Year 3 gives you the opportunity to explore your mathematical interests in detail. There is a very wide choice including papers, for example:

  • cryptography
  • algebraic topology
  • number theory
  • cosmology
  • general relativity
  • stochastic financial models
  • waves

There are also optional computational projects.

Year 4 (Part III, optional intergrated Masters)

Part III has a world-wide reputation for training the very best research mathematicians. Progression to Part III, in which more than 80 options are offered, normally requires a first in Part II or a very good performance in Parts IB and II, and successful completion leads to a BA/M Math. See the Faculty website for more details.

Entry requirements

Typical offers require
A Level:
A*A*A + STEP
IB: 40-41 points, with 776 at Higher Level + STEP
For other qualifications, see our main Entrance requirements pages.

Course requirements

Essential A Level Mathematics and AS Level Further Mathematics/IB Higher Level Mathematics
Highly desirable A Level Further Mathematics, Mechanics modules

The table below relates to A Level (or equivalent) subject preferences of individual Colleges for admission to study Mathematics. STEP Mathematics is required as part of almost all conditional offers in Mathematics (including Mathematics with Physics). See Entrance requirements and our Subject Matters leaflet for additional advice about general requirements for entry, qualifications and offers.

Essential It is likely that you will be rejected without interview if you do not have this subject
Preferred Qualifications in these subjects are preferred for admission but they are not essential
Useful If you don't have this subject your application will not be disadvantaged, but it may affect your ability to cope with the course and limit the options available to you.

M = Mathematics, FM = Further Mathematics

College Essential Preferred Useful Comments
Christ's M, FM (AS) FM    
Churchill M, FM (AS) FM    
Clare M, FM (AS) FM    
Corpus Christi M, FM (AS) FM Science subjects Applicants with broader selection of subjects not precluded
Downing M, FM (AS) FM    
Emmanuel M, FM (AS) FM    
Fitzwilliam M, FM (AS) FM    
Girton M, FM (AS) FM    
Gonville & Caius M, FM (AS) FM    
Homerton M, FM (AS) FM    
Hughes Hall M, FM (AS)   Science subjects A qualification in a third science subject would be advantageous
Jesus M, FM (AS) FM    
King's M, FM (AS) FM    
Lucy Cavendish M, FM (AS) FM    
Magdalene M, FM (AS) FM    
Murray Edwards M, FM (AS) FM    
Newnham M, FM (AS) FM Science subjects  
Pembroke M, FM (AS) FM    
Peterhouse M, FM (AS)      
Queens' M, FM (AS) FM    
Robinson M, FM (AS) FM    
St Catharine's M, FM (AS) FM    
St Edmund's M, FM (AS)      
St John's M, FM      
Selwyn M, FM (AS) FM    
Sidney Sussex M, FM (AS) FM    
Trinity Please consult the College website
Trinity Hall M, FM      
Wolfson Subject not available
Admissions tests and written work

The table below sets out the ways in which each College assesses applicants for this subject. For more information about these methods of assessment and why we use them, see the main Admissions tests and written work page.

College Assessment of applicant for this subject
Christ's Maths STEP; Test at interview
Churchill Maths STEP; Test at interview
Clare Maths STEP
Corpus Christi Maths STEP; Test at interview
Downing Maths STEP; Test at interview
Emmanuel Maths STEP
Fitzwilliam Maths STEP; Preparatory study at interview
Girton Maths STEP; Test at interview
Gonville & Caius Maths STEP; Preparatory study at interview
Homerton Maths STEP; Test at interview
Hughes Hall Maths STEP; Test at interview
Jesus Maths STEP; Preparatory study at interview
King's Maths STEP; Test at interview
Lucy Cavendish Maths STEP; Test at interview
Magdalene Maths STEP; Test at interview
Murray Edwards Maths STEP; Test at interview
Newnham Maths STEP; Preparatory study at interview
Pembroke Maths STEP; Preparatory study at interview
Peterhouse Maths STEP
Queens' Maths STEP
Robinson Maths STEP; Test at interview
St Catharine's Maths STEP
St Edmund's Maths STEP; Test at interview
St John's Maths STEP; May be given unseen maths problem at interview
Selwyn Maths STEP
Sidney Sussex Maths STEP
Trinity Maths STEP; Test at interview
Trinity Hall Maths STEP
Wolfson Not available at this College
How to apply

If you are interested in applying for this course, please see our Applying section for more details.

Further Resources

Find out more about Mathematics at Cambridge

  • Course website - Explore the Mathematics degree in more detail on the course website.
  • Course guide - A detailed guide to the Mathematics degree.

Improve your knowledge of Mathematics

  • Maths study skills - A guide to the study skills that will help you study Mathematics at Cambridge, and also give you a flavour of the teaching styles here.
  • NRICH Mathematics - Maths problems, games and history aimed at AS and A-level students wishing to enrich their experience and understanding of mathematics.
  • Plus Magazine - An online magazine 'opening a door to the world of maths', as part of the Cambridge-based Millennium Maths Project.

Tools to help you with your Mathematics application

  • STEP guidance - Information about the STEP examination which applicants to study Maths at Cambridge are required to take.
  • Application information - A detailed guide to applying to study Mathematics at Cambridge.

Unistats info


Contextual Information

From September 2012, every undergraduate course of more than one year's duration will have a Key Information Set (KIS). The KIS allows you to compare 17 pieces of information about individual courses at different higher education institutions.

However, please note that superficially similar courses often have very different structures and objectives, and that the teaching, support and learning environment that best suits you can only be determined by identifying your own interests, needs, expectations and goals, and comparing them with detailed institution- and course-specific information.

We recommend that you look thoroughly at the course and University information contained on these webpages and consider coming to visit us on an Open Day, rather than relying solely on statistical comparison.

You may find the following notes helpful when considering information presented by the KIS.

  1. The KIS relies on superficially similar courses being coded in the same way. Whilst this works on one level, it leads to some anomalies. For example, Music courses and Music Technology courses can have exactly the same code despite being very different programmes with quite distinct educational and career outcomes.

    Any course which combines several disciplines (as many courses at Cambridge do) tends to be compared nationally with courses in just one of those disciplines, and in such cases a KIS comparison may not be an accurate or fair reflection of the reality of either. For example, you may find that when considering a degree which embraces a range of disciplines such as biology, physics, chemistry and geology (for instance, Natural Sciences at Cambridge), the comparison provided is with courses at other institutions that primarily focus on just one (or a smaller combination) of those subjects.

  2. Whilst the KIS makes reference to some broad types of financial support offered by institutions, it cannot compare packages offered by different institutions. Different students have different circumstances and requirements, and you should weigh up what matters to you most: level of fee; fee waivers; means-tested support such as bursaries; non-means-tested support such as academic scholarships and study grants; and living costs such as accommodation, travel.

  3. The KIS provides a typical cost of private (ie non-university) accommodation. This is very difficult to estimate as prices and properties vary. University accommodation can be substantially cheaper, and if you are likely to live in College for much or all of the duration of your course (as is the case at Cambridge), then the cost of private accommodation will be of less or no relevance for you. The KIS also provides the typical annual cost of university accommodation and the number of beds available. Note that since most universities offer a range of residential accommodation, you should check with institutions about the likelihood of securing a room at a price that suits your budget. Knowing the number of beds available is not necessarily useful: it may be much more important to find out if all students are guaranteed accommodation.

  4. Time in lectures, seminars and similar can vary enormously by institution depending on the structure of the course, and the quality of such contact time should be the primary consideration.

  5. Whilst starting salaries can be a useful measure, they do not give any sense of career trajectory or take account of the voluntary/low paid work that many graduates undertake initially in order to gain valuable experience necessary/advantageous for later career progression.

The above list is not exhaustive and there may be other important factors that are relevant to the choices that you are making, but we hope that this will be a useful starting point to help you delve deeper than the face value of the KIS data.