Undergraduate study - 2022 entry
Open to the world

MA Mathematics

UCAS code: G102

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Mathematics

College: Science and Engineering

Study abroad

Introducing MA Mathematics

Mathematics at university encourages you to think in an entirely different way.

As well as developing a rigorous mindset, a mathematics degree introduces you to new mathematical concepts and delves into areas you won’t have explored at school.

By the end of your programme, you will specialise in an area of your particular interest.

Learning a new way of approaching and analysing complex problems is a particularly valuable skill, applicable to many exciting career paths. This makes maths graduates extremely employable.

Areas of study

The MA Mathematics programme combines the study of mathematics with an art or humanities subject of your choice, selected from the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Science.

In Years 1 and 2, up to half of your time will be spent studying your chosen arts or humanities subject. The rest of your time will be spent on mathematics.

From Year 3 onwards, you will study mathematics only. You can choose to specialise in a particular aspect of mathematics or study courses across the broad range offered by our school.

This programme is very similar to the BSc Mathematics programme. The main differences are:

  • your outside subject must be selected from the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • your outside subject should be the same in Years 1 and 2

If you would prefer more flexibility and variety with your outside subjects, you may prefer the BSc Mathematics programme.

Provided you take the appropriate outside subjects, it is easy to switch between the BSc and the MA programmes once you are enrolled at the University.

Please note that this degree is an undergraduate degree, not a masters degree. If you would like to study a masters degree, please see our MMath integrated masters programme, or consider completing an MSc degree after your undergraduate study.

This is a four-year programme.

In your first two years, you will study mathematics alongside your chosen arts, humanities or social sciences subject. At this stage, the maths courses are compulsory. This allows you to develop as a well-rounded mathematician and widens your options for specialisation later in the programme.

In the final two years of your programme, you will study mathematics only.

Year 3 is where you can begin to specialise in an area of mathematics, while still taking some core compulsory courses. This gives you free choice of courses in Year 4, when you can specialise in your particular area of interest.

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.

Optional courses

The remainder of your timetable will mostly be made up of your arts subjects. 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.


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 scheme, MathPALS.

Year 2

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

The following courses are compulsory. They extend your knowledge of calculus, probability and analysis and introduce you to the abstract ideas of group theory. You will also cover topics in statistics and applied mathematics.

  • Fundamentals of Pure Mathematics
  • Several Variable Calculus and Differential Equations
  • Statistics
  • Computing and Numerics
  • Probability

Optional and outside courses

Facets of Mathematics is our optional Year 2 course. It explores the wide range of applications of mathematics, and develops your skills in teamwork and presenting mathematics. It is assessed by coursework only.

The rest of your time will be spent studying your chosen outside subject.


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

Year 3

From this point onwards, you will focus on the main subjects of your programme.

You will study four compulsory mathematics courses:

  • Honours Algebra
  • Honours Analysis
  • Honours Complex Variables
  • Honours Differential Equations

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

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

  • programming
  • group work
  • presentation skills

Optional courses

The rest of your time will be spent studying other courses from the School of Mathematics.

This is when you will begin to specialise and narrow your mathematical focus.

Current optional courses include:

  • Financial Mathematics
  • Introduction to Number Theory
  • Statistical Computing

Year 4

As a Year 4 student, you will complete at least one of:

  • a research project
  • our Mathematical Education course
  • our Statistical Case Studies course

Research project

Completing the project allows you to research a topic in depth. This can be done as a group or individually.

Mathematical Education course

You will learn about the theories of learning and teaching mathematics. Then you will put your knowledge into practice, completing short placements at local primary schools or organising revision sessions for local Advanced Higher students.

Statistical Case Studies course

This course allows you to undertake consultancy-style projects as part of a team. Projects will be focused on data analysis problems that use complex, real-world data.

Optional courses

You will also choose from a wide range of mathematics courses to create a programme that suits your particular interests and career aspirations.

Our course offering is influenced by the varied research interests in our school. We offer a large selection of courses in:

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

Current course options 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 (2021/22)

Our facilities

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

In subsequent years, mathematics teaching takes 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 outside subjects in Years 1 and 2 may be taught on other campuses, and so you may need to travel between locations.

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

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

Take a closer look at our facilities on the University’s Virtual Visit site.

Virtual Visit

Study abroad

You will have opportunities to study abroad through exchange programmes. Our 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.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Mathematics is taught through a mixture of lectures and workshops. You will have approximately 15 hours of teaching each week, although this will vary depending on your year of study and which outside subjects you choose.

Year 1

In Year 1, lectures are usually interactive; lecturers use online voting systems and encourage small-group discussion to improve your understanding of core material.

These lectures are linked to your subject reading, so you will be familiar with the content before you arrive.

Year 2 onwards

Lectures in later years follow a more 'traditional' lecturing style but occasionally incorporate the voting system.

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 5-6 other students, with a tutor on hand to answer questions and support you.

Peer collaboration

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

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

Hybrid teaching

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the School of Mathematics is currently operating a hybrid teaching model, which includes a mixture of in-person and digital teaching.

It is likely that our hybrid teaching model will change. Our school is home to world-leading experts in technology-enhanced mathematical education and we are prepared for many situations. We will adapt quickly and effectively, as required.

Online lectures

Currently, mathematics lectures take place on digital platforms. This is because of the impossibility of social distancing in a lecture theatre containing several hundred students.

We are conscious of the difficulties of digital learning so lecture content is pre-recorded and offered in short, manageable chunks. This stops you being faced with hours of back-to-back lectures. Online lectures continue to be linked to subject reading and interactive activities.

Hybrid workshops

We currently offer in-person workshops as much as possible, subject to health and safety guidance from the Scottish Government. We provide digital workshops for those who are unable to travel to Edinburgh or who are self-isolating. Digital workshops continue to feature collaborative learning and are facilitated by easy-to-use online whiteboards.

How will I be assessed?

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.

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 just memorising procedures.

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

Depending on your choice of arts, humanities or social sciences subject, you may complete other types of assessments, such as essays.

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

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

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

You will gain complementary skills from your arts subject in Years 1 and 2. This gives you a broader skill set to draw on in the world of work.

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

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

Enhance your CV

Within the School of Mathematics, you will get many opportunities to develop your skills and enhance your CV.

  • Share your love of mathematics by working with the wider community as a member of our Outreach Team.
  • Join our team of Student Ambassadors and enthuse prospective students.
  • Become a MathPALS leader and support Year 1 students.
  • 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. Higher Applications of Mathematics is not accepted in place of Higher Mathematics. Advanced Higher Mathematics is recommended. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: Mathematics at A*. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • 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.


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

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 Mathematics

Additional costs

You should expect to purchase the necessary textbooks for some components of your programme.

Due to the current hybrid teaching model, you may also need access to a laptop and digital writing device to take part in online workshops. We offer a loan scheme for these items.


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