Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Studying maths at university

Studying maths at universityThinking of studying maths at university? Understand all the variables with our simple guide.

Types of maths course

As well as a general maths degree, which will allow you to specialize later in the course, there are two very broad areas of maths you can study:

  • Pure mathematics: studying abstract mathematical concepts like set theory.
  • Applied mathematics: studying ways to use maths to model the real world, such as fluid dynamics.

Find out more about these in our article on pure and applied mathematics.

There are also more specific courses. These usually involve studying how maths can be used in a particular field, which means they fall on the applied mathematics side. If you want to study a more specific area of pure mathematics, you will usually have to study a more specific degree and specialize during it.

  • Engineering mathematics: using maths to solve engineering problems
  • Statistics: studying how to collect and understand data
  • Financial mathematics: using mathematical models to understand markets and financial systems
  • Mathematical biology: using mathematical models to study living things and populations

You can also combine maths with other subjects. Common choices are things like computer science or engineering, but there are also less traditional options available, such as maths with English literature.

What will it involve?

You'll spend a lot of time in lectures and private study, learning and using new mathematical concepts. On an applied mathematics course, you'll also spend time developing and testing models. Statisticians can expect to do some data-gathering as well.

On many courses, you'll also pick up some computer programming skills, since these can be very useful for mathematical work.

Where can it lead?

As well as postgraduate maths, mathematicians often go into finance or computing. These areas make plenty of use of the skills learned during a maths degree course. Teaching can also be a good route, especially as there are training bursaries of up to £20,000 available for maths graduates.

If you want to do something completely different, or take a postgraduate conversion course, maths is a flexible and respected subject that will offer you a lot of opportunities.

What do I need?

Maths at A-level or equivalent is vital. Many universities will also ask for certain results at GCSE, such as a C or above. Further Maths isn't normally required, but it might help your chances. If you're taking it, your offer might ask for a particular Further Maths grade.