“The difference between the poet and the mathematician is that the poet tries to get his head into the heavens while the mathematician tries to get the heavens into his head.” - G.K. Chesterton
While what be right for one student won’t be right for another, some universities regularly excel in terms of the teaching offered, the staff, the employability of graduates, and their research output in a given field. Ones that excel in one subject may not excel in another, especially given how specialised some universities are.
With that in mind, whether you want to study maths to move into business, economics, finance, or science, here are the 10 best universities for studying maths in the UK.
10. University of Bath
The University of Bath requires A*AA for their BSc Maths programme with the A* in either A Level Mathematics or Further Mathematics. Of course, alternative or equivalent qualifications are also accepted.
The course structure is similar to the others you'll see in this article and includes algebra, probability and statistics, differential equations, modelling and dynamical systems, and vector calculus and partial differential equations.
9. Lancaster University
While rated the 9th best university in the country for mathematics, Lancaster University is rated 6th in terms of graduate prospects. As for their BSc in Mathematics, this is one of the few universities in this list that doesn't require A*A*A at A Level but rather AAA.
As for the course, it includes a lot of the same modules you'll see elsewhere such as calculus, convergence and continuity, discrete mathematics, geometry, integration and differentiation, linear algebra, numbers and relations, probability, statistics, computational mathematics, Bayesian inference, combinatorics, graph theory, Hilbert spaces, Lebesgue Integration, Stochastic processes, and number theory.
8. UCL (University College London)
Much like almost every other university in our list, to study a BSc in Maths at UCL, you'll need at least A*A*A at your A Levels. You should keep in mind that though the offers are often stated as A Level exam results, there are equivalent qualifications such as the BTEC National Diploma, Access to HE Diploma, Cambridge Pre-U Principal Subjects, Scottish Advanced Highers, and Welsh Baccalaureate that are accepted, too. Similarly, equivalent international qualifications are also accepted by every university in the list.
The course includes modules covering algebra, applied mathematics, Newtonian mechanics, fluid mechanics, and complex analysis. Students are also given the option to analytical dynamics, computational methods, electromagnetism, geometry and groups, number theory, and probability and statistics during their second and third years.
7. University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh's BSc Mathematics programme lasts 4 years with core modules int the first year taking up half of the timetable. The optional modules during this year don't have to be in mathematics but there are related modules students can take.
Between half and two-thirds of a student's timetable will be spent on mathematics in the second year where they'll study fundamentals of pure mathematics, several-variable calculus and differential equations, statistics, computing, and numerics, and probability.
The third year includes algebra, analysis, complex variables, and differential equations and is the point in the course when students start to fully focus on maths. These are all honours (hons) modules.
The fourth year of the course has students complete a research project or take the Mathematical Education course. In addition to this, they have the option to choose which mathematical subjects to study.
6. University of Warwick
Warick's BSc Maths course allows students to study a range of mathematical concepts including algebra, number theory, geometry, topology, pure and applied analysis, differential equations, and applications to physical and life sciences.
As for modules, students start with three-quarters of their timetable chosen for them but in the second year, they get to choose nearly half of their modules. In the final year, they can choose all their modules but at least 50% of them have to be maths modules.
5. Imperial College London
While fifth in our list, Imperial College London's BSc Maths programme is arguably one of the most popular in terms of applications to admissions. Only 1 out of every 12 applications is accepted and that's still with A*A*A results at A Level.
Their maths degree courses focus on pure mathematics, applied mathematics and mathematical physics, mathematical finance, and statistics.
During the first year of the programme, students will cover core modules and have little choice in what they study. However, in the second year, students are given a chance to choose some of their modules, and by the final year, all their modules are elective.
4. Durham University
Just outside of the podium places, Durham University offers undergraduate programmes for both mathematics and mathematics and statistics.
For those with an interest in the sciences, they can also study maths as part of a natural sciences degree programme. In this case, they need to apply through Natural Sciences.
3. University of St. Andrews
Scotland's first university is third on our list for maths degrees and its reputation as a provider of excellent teaching precedes it. The mathematics department at St. Andrews offers BSc degrees in both mathematics and statistics as well as postgraduate options.
There are also longer undergraduate programmes that result in a master's degree at the end. If your dream career in maths requires a master's in mathematics, these courses are an interesting option.
2. University of Cambridge
Cambridge also requires A*A*A for their course and the same rules apply to those taking both maths and further maths at A Level.
Cambridge's maths degree course only accepts around one-sixth of the applications so if you are planning on applying through UCAS you have to make sure that your exam results are good and your application is exceptional.
1. University of Oxford
Rarely, a list of the best universities in the UK for any subject doesn't include either Oxford or Cambridge and unsurprisingly, this list includes both.
The very best universities in the country offer the best teaching in a variety of subjects and maths is no exception. Any student would be happy to get onto a course at either Oxford or Cambridge, but when it comes to maths, Oxford outperforms its perennial rival.
Of course, as the best university in the country for maths, competition for places on the degree course is fierce.
Oxford requires A*A*A with maths a requirement and further maths recommended. If a student takes both maths and further maths, their two A*s have to be in these subjects. Even with these admission requirements, only 12% of admissions are accepted.
Of course, these aren't the only 10 good undergraduate maths courses in the UK and only applying to courses on this list could be a risky move, especially if you don't end up with A*A*A in your A Levels as UCAS only allows 5 applications.
The quality of the maths teaching and staff isn't the only criteria to consider when choosing which university to apply to. Some courses might be better for finding a job in science afterwards while others might be good if you're interested in finance or economics.
As UCAS only allows you to apply to 5 different courses, you may want to apply to an undergraduate maths degree programme with more lenient entry requirements. Similarly, you might also want to consider where you do your studies and whether or not you'd be interested in doing a year abroad to learn a foreign language or a work placement as part of your degree.
You'll also want to think about what you plan on doing after your undergraduate studies. For example, some universities have better master's programmes. Do a bit of research on the postgraduate options or the employability of graduates. Usually, this information isn't hard to find as the best universities are very keen on showing off just how well their graduates are doing.
Make sure you see what the graduates are working in, too. If you're desperate to work in finance or economics, you mightn't want to go to a school where most of the maths graduates end up working in physics or mathematical science, for example. However, it's not always a deal-breaker because the maths degrees from these universities will definitely give you a good enough foundation in the subject to move into almost any financial or scientific career.
You might also want to consider the town where the university is located, too. It's all well and good being enrolled on the best courses in the country but there's more to your time at university than the level of teaching offered, you'll also want to like where you study.
Just because the entry requirements are lower, that doesn't necessarily mean that the university will be worse for you. There's more to your studies than league tables and the prestige of the university offering the course. Choose wisely!