Mathematics

  • Intake: 14-18 
  • Offers: A*A*A + STEP
  • Essential Subjects: A2 Maths, AS Further Mathematics 
  • Desirable Subjects: A2 Further Mathematics
  • Faculty website: www.maths.cam.ac.uk

Mathematics at Cambridge is widely considered to be very tough; and correspondingly rewarding. The range of courses offered within mathematics is exceptionally wide: you can learn about everything from black holes to the most abstract problems in logic. 

Tripos: 

In the first year, Part IA, students take one of two options: 

(a) Pure and Applied Mathematics 
(b) Mathematics with Physics 

Most students choose option (a), but around one or two at Queens’ each year choose option (b), which leaves open the possibility of continuing to Physical Natural Sciences in the second year. Computer Science with Mathematics also shares some of the Part IA Mathematics Tripos courses. 

Part IA

In the first year introduces you to the fundamentals of higher mathematics, and the eight courses are: 

  1. Vectors and Matrices 
  2. Differential Equations  
  3. Probability 
  4. Dynamics and Relativity  
  5. Groups
  6. Vector Calculus
  7. Analysis
  8. Numbers and Sets

Students taking option (a) take all eight courses while those taking option (b) Mathematics with Physics replace the last two courses with the Part IA Physics paper from Natural Sciences, which includes regular practical sessions. 

Part IB

In the second year, you choose from 17 courses available. There is not strict rule about how many courses students should take: students have the flexibility to choose a number of courses that suits their pace of study and their interests, with guidance from their Director of Studies. Many of the courses extend knowledge gained in the first year, for example in group theory, analysis, statistics and methods, while other courses are introduced, such as Metric and Topological Spaces, Numerical Analysis, Quantum Mechanics and Fluid Dynamics. There are also optional computational projects, using computers to explore mathematical problem. 

Part II

The third year, gives you the opportunity to explore your mathematical interests in detail. There is a huge range of specialised papers available (36 at present), and it is here where the Cambridge course most obviously distinguishes itself from that offered by other universities. Again, students may choose how many courses they take, and may specialise right down to one area, or may take a mix of courses to suit their interests.

Just some of these courses available: 

  • Coding and Cryptography 
  • Number Theory 
  • General Relativity  
  • Waves  
  • Principles of Quantum Mechanics  
  • Algebraic Topology 
  • Cosmology
  • Stochastic Financial Models
  • Riemann Surfaces
  • Mathematical Biology

Part III

In the fourth year has a world-wide reputation for training the very best research mathematicians, and many continue to PhDs both in Cambridge and at other universities around the world. Progression to Part III, in which over 80 options are offered, normally requires a strong performance in Parts IB and II, and successful completion leads to a Masters degree: BA with MMath. See the Faculty website for more details. 

Mathematics at Queens’

During the first two years at Queens' mathematics students usually have two supervisions per week. Students are in pairs for supervisions, which are usually for an hour at a time. Typically, the work set for each supervision requires eight to ten hours’ preparation (in addition to time reviewing notes from lectures). Queens' takes great care to make the best possible arrangements for supervisions, and most of the college teaching in the first two years is done by members of the College, mainly by Fellows who cover a range of different areas of mathematics between them. In the third year when students take specialised options, supervisions are organised amongst a group of eleven colleges so that the particular expertise of all the mathematicians in these colleges is pooled and used effectively. 

  • Queens’ is unusual in having a system of ‘examples classes’. The supervision arrangements are similar between all colleges, but we supplement this by having classes where the whole year group of Queens’ mathematicians and a supervisor discusses common issues, works through problems on the whiteboard, and answers questions with more practical detail than feasible in lectures. There are two of these per week in the first year, and in the second year it depends on which courses each student takes. 
  • Queens’ College regard the gap year for mathematicians more positively than other colleges. If you want that time to do something before you come to university, whether academic or not, this need not be a detriment to your ability to study later. Indeed the extra life experience is often valuable preparation for your time at university. You can either apply before your gap year for deferred entry, or we are also happy to receive applications from students after they have completed their schooling. 
  • Queens’ mathematics welcomes students with a range of different educational backgrounds. To help the transition to university learning, we offer extra teaching in the first term for example to introduce ideas such as methods of mathematical proof, and focus on how to write mathematics in a style appropriate to university. And for students who enjoy extra challenges and when they are ready to pull ahead of the course, Queens’ supervisors are always keen to offer extra more advanced problems, or students may in consultation with the Director of Studies, take courses from higher years (there is absolutely no danger of running out of interesting mathematics to study!). 

For admissions, applicants are usually invited to two interviews, each about 20 minutes long where mathematical questions are set and discussed with two interviewers.  

Queens’ Mathematics Fellows

Dr Julia Gog, Director of Studies, University Reader in Mathematical Biology

Research interests: mathematical biology, the mathematics of infectious disease spread and evolution, particularly influenza, and bioinformatics of viruses. 

Professor Peter HaynesProfessor of Applied Mathematics.

Research interests: Transport, Stirring and Mixing and implications for atmospheric chemistry and oceanic biology 

Professor Richard Nickl

Research interests: statistical theory, probability theory, functional analysis

Dr Matt Saxon

Research interests: Fluid Dynamics, particularly droplet dynamics, including contact-line motion and evaporation

Professor Richard Weber, Professor of Mathematics for Operational Research

Research interests: Mathematics for operational research and complex systems, models in communications and operations management, stochastic networks, on-line bin packing, queuing theory, optimal search and financial mathematics.

Dr Thomas Forster

Research interests: Logic for Mathematicians and for Linguists, Discrete Mathematics for computer science, Set Theory, specifically set theory with a universal set, BQO theory and Foundations of Mathematics