Applying for a Mathematics Degree

Mathematics can be studied as a single honours degree or as a combined/joint honours degree in conjunction with another subject. Most single honours degree courses have codes starting G1, followed by two others numbers or letters, often G100.

Before applying for a Mathematics degree course, look at the features of the course, for example:

  • How many modules are optional? The number of optional modules often increases in the second the third years of the course - sometimes all first year modules are compulsory.
  • Does the course include several areas of applied mathematics, for example, Statistics, Mechanics and Decision Mathematics (Operational Research) or does it specialise in one of these?
  • Are any of the modules assessed via coursework?
  • Do you know what each of the modules listed will involve? The FMSP have produced a brief overview of a typical first year undergraduate mathematics course, which provides exemplar resources that illustrate the different aspects of mathematics you are likely to study.
  • Is the course delivered entirely by lectures? Most universities also provide support via seminars, tutorials and additional examples classes which expand on the material covered in the lectures.

There are a wide range of degrees which involve mathematics and these often vary, even when they have the same title e.g. ‘G100 Mathematics'. In addition, mathematics can be combined with many other subjects, such as:

  • Mathematics and Computer Science
  • Mathematics and Spanish/German/French
  • Mathematics and Economics
  • Mathematics and Physics
  • Mathematics and Education
  • Financial Mathematics
  • Mathematics and Music
  • Mathematical Biology

It is also possible to study for a Mathematics degree that involves studying abroad for one year.

Therefore, researching the content and structure of the degree course you plan to apply for is very important.

Application and Interview

All applications for degree courses are made via the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) website. The deadline for most courses is mid-January each year but the deadline for courses at Oxford or Cambridge, or in Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Science/Medicine is in mid-October (see UCAS website for exact dates). If you are thinking of applying for a medical degree and are planning to study Further Mathematics, see the latest guidance relating to University entry requirements.

Most offers for degree courses in Mathematics are made without an interview. Of the 24 Russell Group universities, five interview applicants, with some of these interviews being informal, as shown in the table below:

University Interview details

The University of Cambridge

Applications are made to a particular College within the university. All colleges have requirements beyond A level grades and there is normally at least one mathematical interview (usually two or three) of around 20-30 minutes each, potentially leading to a conditional offer involving STEP. Sometimes, the interview is based on previously prepared material or on work done under examination conditions just before the interview.

Each college has its own particular approach which can be found in the Cambridge University Guide to Admissions in Mathematics. Some additional general guidance can be found on the University of Cambridge Interviews page.

For further guidance, a video recording of a typical interview is available.

The University of Manchester

After considering applications, many applicants are invited to a Visiting Day which includes a mathematical talk, a tour and an interview which helps determine the conditional offer made.

Oxford University

Interviews are largely mathematical in nature. You may be asked to talk about an area of mathematics you have studied; look in detail at a point of technique, or curve sketching; you may be asked `puzzle' type questions; or you may be given a mathematical definition and asked to work out some of its consequences. Applicants will be interviewed at least twice by their first choice College and have at least one interview with another College. Applicants will also be invited to take the Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT).

Interviews occur over a 3 day period in December are around 25 minutes each, mainly of a mathematical nature. The aim is for tutors to see how you think when you do Mathematics, and you may be asked to work at the board and talk through your thought processes.

To help you prepare, there are some helpful videos from tutors. In addition, general interview advice, including eight sample portions of interviews of potential students is available, as well as some general sample questions. An Interviews Guide for Students, produced by Oxford University, also provides useful information.

University College London (UCL)

If your application is sufficiently strong you will be invited to visit the department for an applicant afternoon. Alternatively, some invitations are for an academic interview. You will also be able to talk to current students and staff and will be given a tour.

The University of York

All students who are made an offer are invited to attend a Visit Day between November and April, which includes a one-to-one chat with a member of academic staff.


Interview Advice

The following general links provide useful information when preparing for a Mathematics degree course interview:


Typical Interview Questions

A sample of some typical interview questions is given in these documents:

Showing a general enjoyment of, and interest in, your chosen subject via wider reading would also be helpful in preparing for your interview. Some suggested texts are listed on the preparation for a mathematics degree page.