Course Guide


Introducing your Student Rep

Shyam Chandarana

I'm Shyam, I'm a second year student studying maths, and I'm originally from Watford. Within my degree, I'm most interested in abstract algebra and theoretical physics and, outside of my degree, I'm involved in my college's JCR and can (very) occasionally be found in the gym. I also sit as a student member of the maths faculty board, which means I provide student input on important decisions

Key Facts

Average offer: A*A*A, STEP

3-4 years

Available at all colleges except Wolfson

Key subjects for admission: Further Maths, STEP, some colleges require a science/physics

Admissions tests: STEP (forms part of offer condition)

Inclusive prayer space in department


Why did you want to study Mathematics?


I've always really enjoyed maths in school, but the bits I enjoyed most were studying patterns, and why particular methods worked. I knew these were the aspects of school mathematics that were most important at university level, so I knew that was what I wanted to study. For a while, I wasn't quite sure if I wanted to do physics, so I took the option in first year to take physics in place of 1/4 of the Maths degree, but now I am absolutely set on just maths.

How is the Mathematics course structured?


In the first year, almost everybody takes the same eight courses: Numbers and Sets, Groups (basically the study of symmetry), Differential Equations, Vectors and Matrices, Analysis (basically rigorous calculus), Vector Calculus, Probability, and Dynamics and Relativity. Maths with physics students take Physics from Natural Sciences in place of Numbers and Sets and Dynamics and Relativity. There's a small amount of choice in second year, then a huge number of options in third and fourth year, ranging from Logic to Statistics to Quantum Mechanics. Teaching is done by lectures, with supervisions on example sheets you're set (roughly one hour of supervision and one example sheet for six lectures). All assessment is by exam, except some computational project work in second and third year.

What is the faculty building like?


The CMS is a super modern building a little outside of the city centre. It even has a grass roof on the main section you can walk on. There's loads of lecture rooms, as well as a cafe area where some supervisions are held. There's also a nice library with lots of great places to work.  For first and second year, you probably wouldn't come to the CMS a lot as lectures for these years are at the New Museums Site in the town centre.

What is the workload like?


For first years, the timetable is quite rigid, with two lectures a day from 10am to 12pm Monday to Saturday (!). You'd then have roughly two supervisions a week in the afternoons and would spend the rest of your working hours reviewing lecture notes or trying example sheet questions. This would vary a bit for those studying maths with physics, as you would also have to do labs. In later years, the timetable becomes a bit more variable, but it sticks to lectures in the morning between 9am and 1pm and then supervisions in the afternoon.

What about your course would you change?


Because terms are short, we often don't have time to properly review and consolidate material in these periods. As a result, courses can often not really make sense until you start revising them in the Easter vacation. Making terms longer to allow me to have a better appreciation for the material in term time would be the one thing I would change.

Anything else?


If you get an offer to sit the STEP exams with your A Levels. These cover A Level content but the questions are much harder and will require you to think much more deeply. There's loads of resources available but it's best to start looking at them at some point in Year 12. Personally, I strongly recommend the STEP support programme as the best available resource.


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Academic Reps are the voice of students in faculties, departments and schools. Reps have the power to enact changes to education, individually based on their priorities and collectively, working with other representatives across the University. Their responsibilities include taking students’ ideas and concerns to faculty and department boards, relaying important information from those boards back to students, and organising with their peers to foster a subject community.