Number crunching: That is the general perception of what a mathematics degree consists
of. To the vast majority of the public, they perceive that anyone reading Mathematics at degree level will
be able to compute ridiculous sums and gigantic integrals in a mere matter of seconds (In some cases that is
true!). But for those brave souls that dare to expand their mathematical potential beyond the scope of
A-Level, find an intricate and beautiful world that is engulfed in proofs and equations which seemingly can
quantify almost all aspects of life.
The main 4 aspects that Mathematics can be dissected in are Analysis, Algebra, Methods and Applied.
- Analysis is the fundamental building blocks for all of mathematics: Starting only with given
definitions and “true” statements, you begin to construct complex yet detailed proofs that
explain why certain equations are true.
- Algebra, which in secondary school just meant rearranging equations, is now the wonderful
world of groups, rings, fields and other fascinating spaces and algebras. Even with basic
linear algebra, you are now able to solve massive linear systems such as simultaneous
equations without the need of substitution and cancelling out specific variables.
- Methods is the most similar to mathematics encountered in higher and compulsory education –
You have an equation to solve, and you bombard it with all the formulae and techniques you
know. What is now different however is that the equations you now deal with have an infinite
set of solutions and only when you have certain parameters set, do you in turn get
- Finally, applied mathematics covers statistics, mechanics as well as computational courses. This
area of mathematics is what I deem the most “real” sort of maths, seeing as they can be “applied”
(Pardon the pun!) to everything from financial probabilities to river flow dynamics to computer
As a short blog entry, it would be impossible for me to completely describe what an undergraduate maths
student would cover over the course of 3 long years. But what I can assure you is that regardless of
where you might plan to take up a maths degree, be prepared for long hours trying to familiarising
yourself with the Greek alphabet!
Maths Tutors –
Maths Tutors – Undergraduate