Undergraduate study - 2025 entry
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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. It is central to our understanding of the world and our interaction with it.

Philosophy gives you the skills to think about great philosophical questions in a clear and systematic way.

While there are different approaches that philosophers have taken, the study of philosophy focuses on:

  • argument
  • critical enquiry
  • rigour in reasoning
  • clarity of expression, including making important distinctions

Philosophy at Edinburgh

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 covers the basics of Western philosophy and offers you the opportunity to specialise in your areas of interest.


Mathematics courses will help you develop your knowledge of pure mathematics in a formal way. They will also introduce you to ways of mathematical thinking required at university level.

As you progress through the programme, you will build foundation in advanced mathematics, studying compulsory and optional mathematics courses alongside philosophy.

Please note, courses below may be subject to change.

Year 1


In Years 1 and 2, you will take courses that introduce you to the main areas of Philosophy. This will include courses in the following areas:

  • Epistemology
  • Ethics
  • History of Philosophy
  • Logic
  • Metaphysics
  • Philosophy of Language
  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Philosophy of Science


You will also take compulsory mathematics courses, such as:

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

Option courses

You can also choose to take one of the following courses:

  • Courses in the main areas of Philosophy
  • Introduction to Data Science

Fundamentals of Algebra and Calculus

Some students will also take our online course, Fundamentals of Algebra and Calculus.

This introductory course offers extra preparation in topics from advanced high school-level mathematics and supports the transition to university.

Year 2


You will continue to take courses in some or all of the main areas of Philosophy listed under the Study Year 1 section.


Previous courses include:

  • Several Variable Calculus and Differential Equations
  • Fundamentals of Pure Mathematics

Option courses

You can also choose to take other philosophy or mathematics courses, or other courses related to the field.

Year 3

You will start to specialise. You will choose from a range of courses linked to our areas of expertise.


In philosophy, courses include topics related to the major areas of the subject.


You will study some compulsory mathematics honours courses, and can start to specialise in your degree.

Honours courses have previously included:

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

Our honours mathematics courses provide a foundation in advanced mathematics, and will prepare you for the options available later in your programme.

Each of these honours courses has a skills component to help you develop employability skills such as:

  • programming
  • group work
  • presentation skills

Past optional mathematics courses included:

  • Financial Mathematics
  • Introduction to Number Theory
  • 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.


In philosophy, the dissertation can be taken as either of the following

  • an independent dissertation on a philosophy topic of your choice
  • a coursework dissertation through two extended essays in philosophy


You will be able to follow a programme that suits your interests and career aspirations.

Our mathematics course selection is influenced by our varied research interests in the School. As a result, we offer a large selection of courses in:

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

To find out more about the School of Mathematics' broad ranging research interests, take a look at our Researchers on Record video series.

Researchers on Record | School of Mathematics (YouTube video)

Optional courses currently offered include:

  • General Topology
  • Numerical Ordinary Differential Equations and Applications
  • Stochastic Modelling
  • Mathematical Education
  • 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 (2024/25)

Our facilities

Most philosophy teaching takes place at the University's Central Area.

The School of Mathematics is based in the James Clerk Maxwell Building at the King's Buildings campus. Your mathematics teaching will take place at the King's Buildings campus.

As these two degree subjects are based on different campuses, it is likely you will need to travel between campuses for classes.

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

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?


In Years 1 and 2, philosophy courses are taught through lectures and tutorials.

In Years 3 and 4, philosophy courses are taught through seminars and tutorials.


Mathematics courses are mostly taught through a lectures and workshops.


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 sometimes include the voting system.


Mathematics lectures are also supported by workshops. These small-group teaching sessions give you an opportunity to practise applying the concepts you learn in lectures.

You will work with five or six other students and a tutor will be there to support you.


As well as support from the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, you will also have access to the following in the School of Mathematics:

  • drop-in Year 1 mathematics support
  • option to take part in our peer-assisted learning scheme, MathPALS
  • Mathematics Student Services team

How will I be assessed?

Philosophy assessments

You will be assessed through coursework and exams.

In Year 4, you will also complete either of the following:

  • an independent dissertation on a topic of your choice
  • a coursework dissertation through two extended essays

Mathematics assessments

Mathematics courses are mostly assessed through exams.

In your first and second year, these exams are mostly 'open book' exams, where you can use your textbook and notes.

This lets you concentrate on understanding and using the ideas and concepts involved, instead of memorising processes.

In later years, there is a mix of open and closed book exams, depending on the course.

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

Later in the degree, there are some courses available which are entirely assessed by coursework, usually through:

  • reports
  • posters
  • projects
  • presentations

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


The philosophy courses you study throughout your programme will give you the analytical and critical-thinking skills that are valued by employers.

Previous graduates have gone on to work in:

  • education
  • commerce
  • journalism
  • finance
  • law
  • computing

Some graduates also choose to continue with their studies through research or an academic career.


Through mathematics, you will develop valuable skills in:

  • logic
  • analysis
  • programming
  • data analysis
  • presentation
  • practical problem-solving

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

  • software engineering
  • logistics
  • education
  • the civil service

Opportunities to develop skills at the University

There are many opportunities within the University for you to develop your skills and improve your CV. You can:

  • become a Student Ambassador to inspire prospective students
  • work with the wider community as a member of the Mathematics Outreach Team
  • apply for a project scholarship to work with a university lecturer during the summer

Employability support

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

You can also access the School of Mathematics' 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: AAAB by end of S5 or AAAA by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6 (Revised 19/04/2024 to lower entry requirements from AAAA, preferred by S5.)
  • A Levels: A*AB.
  • IB: 37 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.
  • 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. Higher Applications of Mathematics is not accepted in place of Higher Mathematics. Sixth-year work in Mathematics is recommended. Your Mathematics qualifications must have been achieved no more than two academic years prior to entry. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: Mathematics at A*. Your Mathematics qualifications must have been achieved no more than two academic years prior to entry. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: Mathematics (Analysis and approaches only) at 6. Your Mathematics qualifications must have been achieved no more than two academic years prior to entry. 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

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


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
  • 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.We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • 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 65 with at least 54 in each component. We do not accept PTE Academic Online.*

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

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

(*Revised 24 May 2024 to change PTE Academic requirement from total 62 with at least 54 in each component, and to clarify that we do not accept PTE Academic online.)

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 buy textbooks for some compulsory and optional courses.


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