Undergraduate study - 2021 entry

MA Philosophy and Mathematics

UCAS code: VG51

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Philosophy and Mathematics

Philosophy has been at the core of Western intellectual life for at least 2,500 years and it is central to our understanding of the world and of our place in and interaction with it. Philosophy provides the tools whereby the presuppositions of all areas of intellectual and practical activity may be systematically and critically examined.

While there are different approaches that philosophers have taken, characteristic of philosophy is the emphasis on the use of argument, critical enquiry, rigour in reasoning, and clarity of expression, including the making of pertinent distinctions.

The University has a strong historic connection to the subject, counting Adam Ferguson and Sir William Hamilton among its former students. Edinburgh has one of the UK’s largest philosophy departments and the Philosophy Society attracts high-profile speakers.

Our programme is structured in such a way that you will cover the basics of Western philosophy and have the opportunity to specialise in the areas of most interest.

Mathematics courses will initially enable you to develop on your knowledge of pure mathematics in a formal way and be introduced to the ways of mathematical thinking required at university level. As you progress through the programme, you will receive an excellent grounding in advanced mathematics, studying a combination of compulsory and optional maths courses alongside philosophy.

Year 1

You will study Morality and Value and Logic 1. These courses introduce you to key topics in morality and ethics, and the nature of argument.

You will also take Introduction to Linear Algebra, Calculus and its Applications and Proofs and Problem Solving. These 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 can also choose to take Greats: From Plato to the Enlightenment, Philosophy of Science 1 or Introduction to Data Science.

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 take two courses in philosophy: Mind, Matter and Language and Knowledge and Reality.

You will also take Several Variable Calculus and Differential Equations and Fundamentals of Pure Mathematics. You can also choose to take other philosophy or mathematics courses, or further courses related to the field.

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 start to specialise. You will choose courses from a range linked to our areas of expertise. In philosophy, these include topics linked to the major areas of the subject.

You will study two compulsory mathematics Honours courses, and will have the option to start to specialise within your degree. You will be able to choose from:

  • Algebra
  • Analysis
  • Complex Variables
  • Differential Equations

Our compulsory mathematics courses 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.

Current optional mathematics courses include Financial Mathematics, Introduction to Number Theory and Statistical Computing.

Year 4

You will choose another four to six courses from a wide variety available.

You will also complete either a project in mathematics or a dissertation in philosophy. The dissertation can be taken as either an independent dissertation on a philosophy topic of your choice, or a coursework dissertation via two extended essays in philosophy.

Our mathematics course selection is influenced by our varied research interests in the School 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
  • Entrepreneurship in the Mathematical Sciences

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 (2019/20)

Our facilities

The majority of philosophy teaching takes place at facilities located within the University's Central Area.

In Year 1, mathematics classes typically take place in the University's Central Area. In subsequent years, mathematics teaching will take place at the King's Buildings campus, often in the James Clerk Maxwell Building where the School of Mathematics is located.

Please note that your subjects will be taught on different campuses from Year 2 onwards, and so you may need to travel between campuses for classes.

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 in Year 3 through international exchange programmes.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Philosophy courses are taught through a combination of lectures and tutorials.

In Year 1, mathematics 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.

Tutorials are another type of small-group teaching, and are usually based around a discussion.

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?

You will be assessed by a mixture of coursework and exams and Year 4, you will also complete either an independent dissertation on a topic of your choice or a coursework dissertation via two extended essays.

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 (2019/20)

The philosophy courses you study throughout your programme provide you with the analytical and critical-thinking skills that are highly valued in the workplace.

Previous graduates have gone on to work in education, commerce, journalism, finance, law and computing. Some graduates also choose to continue with their studies and pursue a research or academic career.

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

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

There are many opportunities within the University for you to develop your skills and enhance your CV. You can become a Student Ambassador to enthuse prospective students; work with the wider community as a member of the Mathematics Outreach Team; or apply for a project scholarship to work with a university lecturer during the summer.

The School of Mathematics regularly invites alumni back to the School to share their experiences with students and to showcase the breadth of careers available to graduates with a maths background.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAAA-AAAA (achievement by end of S5 preferred). BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: A*AA – A*BB. This entry requirement is being reviewed and is subject to change. We will publish final entry requirements on 31/03/20.
  • IB: 43 points with 776 at HL - 39 points with 666 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*BB. This entry requirement is being reviewed and is subject to change. We will publish final entry requirements on 31/03/20.
  • IB: 34 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 or Advanced Higher Mathematics at B. Sixth-year work in Mathematics is recommended. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: Mathematics at A*. GCSEs: English at C or 4. This entry requirement is being reviewed and is subject to change. We will publish final entry requirements on 31/03/20.
  • IB: HL: Mathematics (from 2021, Mathematics: Analysis and approaches only) at 6. 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

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
  • SQA Intermediate 1 at A
  • SQA Intermediate 2 at C
  • GCSE/IGSCE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate Grade 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 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 componens.

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

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 MA Philosophy and Mathematics

Additional costs

You should expect to purchase necessary textbooks for some compulsory and optional 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