Undergraduate study - 2018 entry

Subject area: Mathematics

Why choose Mathematics at the University of Edinburgh?

  • Our latest teaching review commended us for delivering a high quality teaching and learning experience, with clear support for students throughout their studies.

  • Our graduates go on to rewarding careers in many different areas or to further studies at universities across the world.

  • The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 rated 85 per cent of our research in Pure Mathematics as 4*, world-leading, or 3*, internationally excellent. Our strengths in research inform our teaching.

Study abroad

Studying is helping develop my skills in abstract concepts and problems and being able to think analytically. Keeping on top of the workload requires me to be organised and manage my time well.

Hannah Smith 3rd year BSc (Hons) Mathematics
Hannah Smith 3rd year BSc (Hons) Mathematics

Mathematics is central to everyday life and to the way we see the world. It is an intellectual adventure in its own right but it is also used to understand the physical world - from gravitational waves to global warming - and to find solutions in business and industry.

All of our students take the same compulsory courses in their early years and it is often possible to switch between our different programmes in Years 1 and 2.

In later years you can choose from our wide range of courses in pure mathematics, applied mathematics, statistics, operational research and financial mathematics.

Broad and accelerated programmes

All of our programmes can be taken in broad form, where you will also study other subjects in Years 1 and 2. These may be in related areas such as physics or informatics, or from the wide range offered across the University. On a broad programme, the BSc and MA take four years and the MMath takes five.

For some programmes, well-prepared applicants can choose second-year entry and follow an accelerated programme which concentrates on mathematics from the start. We support this with extra mathematics courses covering the key ideas from the first-year programme.

Year 1

You will take the compulsory courses Linear Algebra, Calculus and Proofs & Problem-Solving. These are common to all our programmes and will take up half of your timetable.

They will allow you to build on your knowledge of pure mathematics and will introduce you to the more rigorous ways of mathematical thinking required at university level.

You will also take courses in subjects other than mathematics.

You will receive support from MathsBase, our popular walk-in help centre, and from our Student Learning Adviser.

Year 2

You will spend between half and two thirds of your time on mathematics.

You will take compulsory courses in pure mathematics, extending your knowledge of calculus, probability and analysis, and will be introduced to the abstract ideas of group theory. Other topics include statistics and applied mathematics.

From this year onwards you can use the Maths Hub, our student-run facility that is both a social centre and a work space.

Year 3

You will focus on the main subjects of your programme. You will receive an excellent grounding in advanced mathematics, preparing you for the options available later in your programme.

Year 4

You will have a wide range of mathematics courses to choose from and you can follow a programme that suits your particular interests and career aspirations.

We offer a large selection of courses in pure and applied mathematics, statistics and operational research. You can take options in areas such as mathematical education, financial mathematics and mathematical biology.

Current course titles include Fundamentals of Optimization, Algebraic Geometry and Multivariate Date Analysis. You will have the opportunity to complete a project that will allow you to research a topic in depth.

Year 5

During this year you will take courses at masters level. You will also complete a substantial project. (MMath only)

Are there additional costs?

You should expect to purchase necessary textbooks for some compulsory and option courses during your programme.

Our facilities

First-year classes typically take place in the University's Central Area. In subsequent years, teaching will take place within the School of Mathematics, located at the University's King's Buildings.

You will have access to the University's extensive libraries and computer facilities.

Study abroad

There are opportunities to study abroad through University-wide exchange programmes. Students have recently completed placements in California, Miami and Hong Kong.

How will I learn?

You will be taught mainly through lectures, workshops and tutorials. In Year 1 you can work with other students in the MathsBase, with tutors on hand to answer questions, where there are also regular MathPALs study sessions led by higher-year students.

We encourage students to work together throughout their studies and to engage with lecturers and tutors outside of timetabled classes. Our Student Learning Adviser will offer advice on study skills throughout your programme.

How will I be assessed?

Most courses involve regular coursework as well as a final exam, while some will involve producing a group report or giving a presentation. Some will be entirely assessed by coursework.

Our graduates have a range of careers open to them. The logical, analytical and practical problem-solving skills you will develop are sought by employers.

Many recent graduates have been employed by large firms in the financial sector. Others have gone into fields including software engineering, logistics, education and civil service.