Undergraduate study - 2021 entry

BSc Mathematics and Physics

UCAS code: GF13

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Mathematics

College: Science and Engineering

Study abroad

Introducing BSc Mathematics and Physics

This programme allows you to study these closely related subjects in equal depth. You will normally be able to switch to single honours programmes in either subject during your first two years.

Within the programme, you may study additional courses in other subjects in Years 1 and 2. These other subjects may be in related areas such as informatics or could be from the wide and varied range offered across the University such as philosophy, economics or languages.

Later in this programme you can choose to specialise in particular aspects of mathematics or physics, examine the links between the two subjects, or study a broad range of topics.

Over the entire programme, you time will be split evenly between the two subjects.

Accelerated Programme

It is also possible for well-prepared applicants to follow an accelerated programme via second year entry. On the accelerated programme, you will concentrate on mathematics in your initial year, rather than studying a broad range of subjects. Alongside your Year 2 mathematics courses, you will be supported with extra accelerated courses covering the key ideas in algebra, calculus and proofs from Year 1 of the programme.

Year 1

You will take three compulsory courses:

  • Introduction to Linear Algebra
  • Calculus and its Applications
  • Proofs and Problem Solving

These are common to all our mathematics 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 study the foundations of physics in preparation for future courses from the School of Physics and Astronomy.

The remainder of your timetable will mostly be made up of subjects other than mathematics. We do, however, have additional mathematics courses available which are optional for students to take, such as Introduction to Data Science. Here you will learn to collect and explore data, before using models and predictions in order to make rigorous conclusions.

Some students will also take our online course, Fundamentals of Algebra and Calculus. This introductory course provides extra preparation in key topics from more advanced high school-level mathematics.

You will receive support from the MathsBase, our popular walk-in help centre, and from our Mathematics Student Support Team. Year 1 students will also have the option of taking part in the peer-assisted learning scheme, MathPALs.

Year 2

You will spend roughly equal amounts of time on mathematics and physics.

You will take the following compulsory courses:

  • Fundamentals of Pure Mathematics
  • Several Variable Calculus and Differential Equations
  • Probability
  • Introductory Dynamics
  • Introductory Fields and Waves
  • Physics of Matter
  • Modern Physics

You will also take a computing or a programming course.

These courses will extend your knowledge of calculus, probability and analysis, introduce you to the abstract ideas of group theory, and cover topics in modern physics and physics of fields and matter.

Second Year Entry

If you are taking the accelerated programme, you will study Accelerated Algebra and Calculus, and Accelerated Proofs and Problem Solving. You will also take a computing course instead of courses from across the wider University. These courses cover the compulsory material from Year 1, and you will study these alongside the compulsory Year 2 courses listed above.

From this year onwards you can use the MathsHub, our student-run facility in the James Clerk Maxwell Building which is both a social centre and a work space.

Year 3

You will study courses in both mathematics and physics, chosen to emphasise and develop the very close continuing relationship between these subjects.

During Year 3, you will study at least three compulsory mathematics Honours courses, but will also have the option to start to specialise within mathematics.

These courses will provide an excellent grounding in advanced mathematics, and will prepare you for the options available later in your programme.

Each of these Honours courses contains a skills component, enabling you to develop valuable employability skills such as programming, group work and presentation skills through the curriculum.

You will also study Electromagnetism and Relativity alongside either Thermal Physics or Principles of Quantum Mechanics.

The rest of your time will be spent studying courses of your choice. Current mathematics option courses include:

  • Financial Mathematics
  • Introduction to Number Theory
  • Statistical Computing

Physics option courses currently include:

  • Thermodynamics
  • Cosmology
  • Nuclear and Particle Physics

Year 4

As a Year 4 student, you will complete a research project in either mathematics or physics. The project will allow you to research a topic in depth and could either be done as part of a group, or as an individual.

In addition to this, you will have a wide range of mathematics courses to choose from.

Our course selection is influenced by our varied research interests in the Schools and as a result we offer a large selection of courses in pure and applied mathematics, statistics, operational research, financial mathematics, mathematical biology and mathematical education. You will be able to follow a programme that suits your particular interests and career aspirations.

Current courses include:

  • General Topology
  • Symmetry and Geometry
  • Stochastic Modelling
  • Mathematical Education
  • Entrepreneurship in the Mathematical Sciences

As in Year 3, the School of Physics & Astronomy continues to offer a large selection of courses, of which you have free choice.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2020/21)

Our facilities

In Year 1, both physics and mathematics classes typically take place in the University's Central Area. In subsequent years, teaching will take place at the King's Buildings campus, often in the James Clerk Maxwell Building where the Schools of Mathematics, and Physics and Astronomy are located.

Please note that your outside subjects in Years 1 and 2 may be taught on different campuses to your mathematics and physics teaching, and you may need to travel between campuses.

During Years 1 – 3, you will also use the undergraduate physics laboratories. From Year 2, you will have access to the Computational Physics Laboratory.

In addition to the University's extensive libraries and computer facilities, you will have access to the School of Mathematics’ facilities across two campuses: MathsBase in the Central Area and MathsHub at King’s Buildings.

Study abroad

There are opportunities to study abroad through exchange programmes. Students from the School of Mathematics have recently completed placements in California, Sydney and British Columbia.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

You will be taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials and practicals. In Year 1, lectures are usually interactive; lecturers use online voting systems and encourage small group discussion to improve your understanding of core material. Lectures in later years follow a more 'traditional' lecturing style, but do occasionally incorporate the voting system.

Mathematics lectures are also supported by workshops, our small-group teaching sessions. These sessions are to give you an opportunity to practise applying the concepts learnt in lectures, and develop your understanding further. You will work with 5-6 other students, and a tutor will be on hand to answer questions and support you.

Physics learning is supported by practicals, which fully exploit the latest teaching technology and help to develop your problem-solving skills.

We encourage students to work collaboratively outside of lectures also, and provide spaces such as the MathsBase and MathsHub to enable this. First year students also have the option of taking part in our peer-assisted learning scheme, MathPALs, and are also able to make use of our drop-in tutor sessions in the MathsBase.

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 assessed entirely by coursework, such as the research project (Year 4).

Physics practical and computing courses have laboratory write-ups and checkpoint assessment.

Programme details

Find out more about this programme's aims, what you will learn, how you will be assessed and what skills and knowledge you will develop.

To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme details (2020/21)

Our graduates have a wide range of careers open to them. You will develop logical, analytic, programming and data analysis abilities, together with the presentation and practical problem-solving skills. These are highly sought-after 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.

We regularly invite alumni back to the School of Mathematics to share their experiences with students and to showcase the breadth of careers available to maths graduates.

There are many opportunities within both Schools for you to develop your skills and enhance your CV. Share your love of your subject by working with the wider community as a member of an Outreach Team; join a team of Student Ambassadors and enthuse prospective students; become a MathPALs leader and support Year 1 students; or apply for a project scholarship and work with a lecturer during the summer.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAA - AAAB (achievement by end of S5 preferred). BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: A*AA - A*AB.
  • IB: 37 points with 666 at HL - 34 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: AABB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: A*AB.
  • IB: 32 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: Mathematics at A and Physics at B. Advanced Higher Mathematics is recommended. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: Mathematics at A* and Physics at B. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: Mathematics (from 2021, Mathematics: Analysis and approaches only) at 6 and Physics at 5. SL: English at 5.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

For direct entry to second year the standard requirements must be exceeded, including the following:

  • SQA Advanced Highers: AAA to include Mathematics and Physics.
  • A Levels: A*AA in one set of exams to include Mathematics at A*, Further Mathematics, and Physics.
  • IB: 38 points with 766 at HL to include Mathematics at 7 and Physics at 6. Further Mathematics is recommended.
Other entry pathways

Entry to many degrees in Science & Engineering is possible via other qualifications (eg HNC/D, Access, SWAP).

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.


For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • SQA Standard Grade at 3
  • SQA Intermediate 1 at A
  • SQA Intermediate 2 at C
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified*:

  • IELTS Academic module overall 6.5 with 5.5 in each component
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition) 92 or above with 20 in each section. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced or Proficiency overall 176 with 162 in each component
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with a distinction in all four components

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

English language qualifications must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the degree you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

English language requirements

*(Revised 27 April 2020 to include TOEFL-iBT Special Home Edition.)

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for BSc Mathematics and Physics

Additional costs

You should expect to purchase necessary textbooks for some compulsory and optional components of your programme.


For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding

More information

How to apply

School: Mathematics

College: Science and Engineering