Undergraduate study - 2023 entry
Open to the world

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.

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

You will split your time evenly between the two subjects over the entire programme. You will normally be able to switch to a single honours programme in either subject during your first two years.

Second year entry

Well-prepared applicants can enter this programme in Year 2 and follow an accelerated programme. On this route, you will focus on mathematics from the beginning, rather than study a range of subjects in Year 1 and Year 2.

On the accelerated programme, we support your Year 2 mathematics courses with extra courses covering the key ideas in algebra, calculus and proofs from Year 1 of the programme.

This is a four-year programme.

Pre-honours

In your first two years, you will study mathematics and physics courses, with the potential to study additional outside subjects.

At this stage, the mathematics and physics courses are compulsory. This allows you to develop as a well-rounded mathematician and physicist. It also widens your options for specialisation later on.

Honours

In the final two years of your programme, you will study mathematics and physics only. You will split your time evenly between these two subjects.

This is where you can begin to specialise more and pursue areas of interest, although there will still be some core compulsory courses.

Year 4 allows you free choice of courses, as well as completing a significant research project in either mathematics or physics.

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

You will also study:

  • Physics 1A: Foundations - which covers the classical physics of kinematics, dynamics, forces, and oscillations, and touches on aspects of contemporary physics, including relativity and chaos.

  • Mathematics for Physics 2 - which develops your mathematical and problem solving skills in the context of algebra and calculus, with increasing emphasis on physical applications.

Optional courses

The remainder of your timetable will usually be made up of subjects other than mathematics. We do, however, offer optional mathematics courses such as:

  • Introduction to Data Science - where you will learn to collect and explore data, before using models and predictions to make rigorous conclusions.

  • Fundamentals of Algebra and Calculus - an online, introductory course that provides extra preparation in key topics from advanced high school level mathematics and supports your transition to university.

Support

You will receive support from the MathsBase, our popular walk-in help centre, and from our Mathematics Student Support Team.

Year 1 students also have the option of taking part in the peer-assisted learning schemes, MathPALS and Physics Peer Mentoring.

You will also be able to join MathClans. This is a student-led initiative that helps new students join and settle into the School of Mathematics community.

Year 2

In Year 2, you will spend roughly equal amounts of time on mathematics and physics.

The following courses are compulsory. They will extend your knowledge of calculus, probability and analysis and introduce you to the abstract ideas of group theory. They also cover topics in modern physics plus physics of fields and matter:

  • 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 programming course.

Second year entry

For students taking the accelerated programme, you will study the compulsory Year 2 courses as well as:

  • Accelerated Algebra and Calculus
  • Accelerated Proofs and Problem Solving
  • a computing course

These courses cover the compulsory material from Year 1 and replace the option to study courses from across the University.

Support

From this year onwards, you can use the MathsHub, our student-run social centre and work space.

Year 3

In Year 3, you will study courses in both mathematics and physics. These have been chosen to emphasise and develop the close relationship between the subjects.

Mathematics courses

You will study at least three compulsory mathematics honours courses, and also start to specialise.

The mathematics honours courses provide an excellent grounding in advanced mathematics and prepare you for the options available later on.

Each mathematics honours course contains a skills component. This enables you to develop valuable employability skills such as:

  • programming
  • group work
  • presentation skills

Physics courses

For your compulsory physics courses, you will study Electromagnetism and Relativity alongside one of:

  • Thermal Physics
  • Principles of Quantum Mechanics

Optional courses

You will spend the rest of your time 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

In Year 4, you will complete a significant research project in either mathematics or physics. This allows you to research a topic in-depth; you can do this as a group or individually.

You will also choose from a wide range of mathematics and physics courses to create a programme that suits your particular interests and career aspirations. Our course offerings are influenced by the varied research interests in each School.

As a result, we offer a large selection of mathematics courses in:

  • pure mathematics
  • applied mathematics
  • statistics
  • operational research
  • financial mathematics
  • mathematical biology
  • mathematical education.

Current mathematics courses include:

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

As in Year 3, the School of Physics and Astronomy offers a large selection of courses, of which you have free choice.

Our facilities

In Year 1, both physics and mathematics classes typically take place in the University's Central Area.

In later years, teaching takes place at the King's Buildings campus and often in the James Clerk Maxwell Building. The School of Mathematics plus the School of Physics and Astronomy are located in the James Clerk Maxwell Building.

Please note: your outside subjects in Years 1 and 2 may be taught on other campuses, so you may need to travel between campuses.

Physics facilities

In Years 1 to 3, you will use the undergraduate physics laboratories.

From Year 2, you will have access to the Computational Physics Laboratory.

Mathematics facilities

In addition to the University's extensive libraries and computer facilities, you will have access to the School of Mathematics’ facilities, MathsBase and MathsHub.

MathsBase

MathsBase is a large study space in the Central Area for students studying mathematics in Year 1. Here you will find:

  • lots of desk space
  • whiteboard walls
  • a walk-in help centre where you can get support from a tutor
  • our peer-assisted learning scheme MathPALS
MathsHub

MathsHub is in the James Clark Maxwell Building and is for Year 2 and above mathematics students. It includes:

  • a common room style space
  • a kitchen
  • study space

Take a virtual tour of our School

You can take a closer look at the School of Mathematics and explore our facilities and campus on the University's Virtual Visit site.

Virtual visit – School of Mathematics

Study abroad

You will have opportunities to study abroad through exchange programmes. Students have recently completed placements in:

  • California
  • Sydney
  • British Columbia

Exchanges are typically taken in Year 3, before returning to Edinburgh to complete Year 4. They are available to students on both the broad programme and the accelerated programme (second year entry).

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

You will be taught through a combination of:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • 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 occasionally include the voting system.

Workshops and practicals

Lectures are supported by small-group workshops. These sessions give you the opportunity to apply the concepts you have learned in lectures, and to develop your understanding. You will work with five to six other students, with a tutor on hand to support you and answer your questions.

Physics learning is supported by practicals. These use the latest teaching technology and help you to develop your problem-solving skills.

Peer collaboration

We encourage students to work collaboratively outside of lectures and provide spaces like the MathsBase and MathsHub to enable this collaboration.

Year 1 students also have the option to:

  • take part in our peer-assisted learning scheme, MathPALS
  • make use of our drop-in tutor sessions in the MathsBase

How will I be assessed?

In Years 1 and 2, mathematics has mainly ‘open book’ exams where you can use your textbook and notes. This allows you to concentrate on understanding and using the ideas and concepts, instead of memorising procedures.

Most courses have regular assessments, both written and online, so you can get feedback on your progress. These typically count for a small part of the course grade.

After Year 1, some courses are assessed entirely by coursework, usually reports or presentations.

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

As a mathematics graduate, you will have a wide range of careers open to you.

Studying a joint honours degree enables you to develop a wider range of transferable skills, and opens up more varied employment opportunities.

You will develop skills that are highly sought-after by employers:

  • logical and analytic abilities
  • programming
  • data analysis
  • presentation skills
  • practical problem-solving

Our graduates

Many recent graduates have been employed by large firms in the financial sector. Others have gone into fields including:

  • software engineering
  • logistics
  • education
  • the civil service

Further study is also a popular option. You can progress from this programme into masters or PhD level study in mathematics or physics; or apply your training to postgraduate study in another subject.

We regularly invite alumni back to share their experiences and showcase the range of careers available to you.

Enhance your CV

Both Schools offer many opportunities to develop your skills and enhance your CV. For example:

  • 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 Peer Learning mentor and support Year 1 students.
  • Apply for a project scholarship and work with a lecturer during the summer.

You will also be able to access the School’s weekly employability events including:

  • presentations from industry employers
  • alumni careers showcases
  • useful workshops to help you prepare for applying to internships, jobs and further study

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAAA - 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. Higher Applications of Mathematics is not accepted in place of Higher Mathematics. Advanced Higher Mathematics is recommended. Your Mathematics qualifications must have been achieved no more than two academic years prior to entry. National 5s: English at C. (Revised 2 May 2022 to include requirement for recent study of Mathematics.)
  • A Levels: Mathematics at A* and Physics at B. Your Mathematics qualifications must have been achieved no more than two academic years prior to entry. GCSEs: English at C or 4. (Revised 2 May 2022 to include requirement for recent study of Mathematics.)
  • IB: HL: Mathematics (Analysis and approaches only) at 6 and Physics at 5. Your Mathematics qualifications must have been achieved no more than two academic years prior to entry. SL: English at 5. (Revised 2 May 2022 to include requirement for recent study of Mathematics.)

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. Your Mathematics qualifications must have been achieved no more than two academic years prior to entry. (Revised 2 May 2022 to include requirement for recent study of Mathematics.)
  • A Levels: A*AA in one set of exams to include Mathematics at A*, Further Mathematics, and Physics. Your Mathematics qualifications must have been achieved no more than two academic years prior to entry. (Revised 2 May 2022 to include requirement for recent study of Mathematics.)
  • IB: 38 points with 766 at HL to include Mathematics (Analysis and approaches only) at 7 and Physics at 6. Further Mathematics is recommended. Your Mathematics qualifications must have been achieved no more than two academic years prior to entry. (Revised 2 May 2022 to include requirement for recent study of Mathematics.)
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.

SQA, GCSE and IB

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
  • 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: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.

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, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

English language requirements

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 buy the necessary textbooks for some components of your programme.

Funding

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