Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

BSc Mathematics and Physics

UCAS code: GF13

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Mathematics

College: Science and Engineering

Study abroad

Introducing BSc Mathematics and Physics

This programme allows you to study these closely related subjects in equal depth.

In Years 1 and 2, you may study additional courses in other subjects. These may be in related areas such as informatics, or from the wide and varied range offered across the University, such as philosophy or languages.

Later in this programme, you can choose to:

  • specialise in particular aspects of mathematics or physics
  • examine the links between the two subjects
  • or study a broad range of topics

You will split your time evenly between the two subjects over the entire programme. You will normally be able to switch to a single honours programme in either subject during your first two years.

Second year entry

This degree programme offers the option to start your studies in Year 2 and study an accelerated degree programme. This option shortens the length of your degree by a year, meaning the BSc degree takes three years instead of four.

On this route, you will focus on mathematics from the beginning, rather than studying a broader range of subjects in Years 1 and 2.

For information about the programme structure, please see the details listed under What you will study (Year 2).

Entry requirements for this accelerated programme can be found under the Second Year Entry drop-down section.

(Revised 15 April 2024 to remove the ‘Only apply to one Mathematics programme’ section from the introduction)

This is a four-year programme.

In your first two years, you will study mathematics and physics courses, with the potential to study additional outside subjects.

At this stage, the mathematics and physics courses are compulsory. This allows you to develop as a well-rounded mathematician and physicist. It also widens your options for specialisation later on.

In the final two years of your programme, you will study mathematics and physics only. You will split your time evenly between these two subjects.

This is where you can begin to specialise more and pursue areas of interest, although there will still be some core compulsory courses.

Please note: the courses below may be subject to change.

Year 1

You will take a number of compulsory mathematics courses. These have previously included:

  • Introduction to Linear Algebra
  • Calculus and its Applications
  • Proofs and Problem Solving

These are common to all our mathematics programmes and will take up half of your timetable. They build on your knowledge of pure mathematics and introduce you to the more rigorous ways of mathematical thinking required at university level.

You will also study:

  • Physics 1A: Foundations, which covers the classical physics of kinematics, dynamics, forces, and oscillations, and touches on aspects of contemporary physics, including relativity and chaos.

  • Mathematics for Physics 2, which develops your mathematical and problem-solving skills in the context of algebra and calculus, with increasing emphasis on physical applications.

Optional courses

The remainder of your timetable will usually be made up of subjects other than mathematics.

We also offer optional mathematics courses such as:

  • Introduction to Data Science, where you will learn to collect and explore data, before using models and predictions to make rigorous conclusions.

  • Fundamentals of Algebra and Calculus, an online, introductory course that provides extra preparation in key topics from advanced high school level mathematics and supports your transition to university.

Year 2

In Year 2, you will spend roughly equal amounts of time on mathematics and physics.

You will study a number of compulsory courses that will extend your knowledge of calculus, probability and analysis and introduce you to the abstract ideas of group theory. They also cover topics in modern physics plus physics of fields and matter. Compulsory courses have previously included:

  • Fundamentals of Pure Mathematics
  • Several Variable Calculus and Differential Equations
  • Probability
  • Introductory Dynamics
  • Introductory Fields and Waves
  • Physics of Matter
  • Modern Physics

You will also take a computing or programming course.

Second year entry

For students taking the accelerated programme, you will study the compulsory Year 2 mathematics courses as well as specially designed courses that cover the compulsory material from Year 1, for example:

  • Accelerated Algebra and Calculus
  • Accelerated Proofs and Problem Solving
  • a computing course

As a result, you will study mathematics and physics from the start, rather than having a broader range of subjects available to you.

The accelerated programme is more challenging than our broad programmes as you will be learning Years 1 and 2 content alongside one another. As a result, it has different entry requirements which can be seen in the Second Year Entry section below.

Year 3

In Year 3, you will study courses in both mathematics and physics. These have been chosen to emphasise and develop the close relationship between the subjects.

Mathematics courses

You will study at least three compulsory mathematics honours courses, and also start to specialise.

The mathematics honours courses provide an excellent grounding in advanced mathematics and prepare you for the options available later on.

Each mathematics honours course contains a skills component. This enables you to develop valuable employability skills such as:

  • programming
  • group work
  • presentation skills

Physics courses

For your compulsory physics courses, you will study Electromagnetism and Relativity alongside one of:

  • Thermal Physics
  • Principles of Quantum Mechanics

Optional courses

You will spend the rest of your time studying courses of your choice. Previous mathematics optional courses have included:

  • Financial Mathematics
  • Introduction to Number Theory
  • Statistical Computing

Physics option courses currently include:

  • Thermodynamics
  • Cosmology
  • Nuclear and Particle Physics

Year 4

In Year 4, you will complete a significant research project in either mathematics or physics. This allows you to research a topic in-depth; you can do this as a group or individually.

You will also choose from a wide range of mathematics and physics courses to create a programme that suits your particular interests and career aspirations. Our course offerings are influenced by the varied research interests in each school.

As a result, we offer a large selection of mathematics courses in:

  • pure mathematics
  • applied mathematics
  • statistics
  • operational research
  • financial mathematics
  • mathematical biology
  • mathematical education.

To find out more about the School of Mathematics' broad ranging research interests, take a look at our Researchers on Record video series.

Researchers on Record | School of Mathematics (YouTube video)

Current mathematics courses include:

  • General Topology
  • Symmetry and Geometry
  • Stochastic Modelling
  • Mathematical Education
  • Entrepreneurship in the Mathematical Sciences

As in Year 3, the School of Physics and Astronomy offers a large selection of courses, of which you have free choice.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2024/25)

Our facilities

The School of Mathematics and the School of Physics and Astronomy are based in the James Clerk Maxwell Building at the King's Buildings campus. Your mathematics and physics teaching will take place at the King's Buildings campus throughout your degree.

It is worth noting that your outside subjects in Years 1 and 2 may be taught on other campuses, so you may need to travel between campuses for classes.

Physics facilities

In Years 1 to 3, you will use the undergraduate physics laboratories in the James Clerk Maxwell Building.

From Year 2, you will have access to the Computational Physics Laboratory.

Take a virtual tour of our School

You can take a closer look at the School of Mathematics and explore our facilities and campus on the University's Virtual Visit site.

Virtual visit – School of Mathematics

Study abroad

You will have opportunities to study abroad through exchange programmes. Students have recently completed placements in:

  • California
  • Sydney
  • British Columbia

Exchanges are typically taken in Year 3, before returning to Edinburgh to complete Year 4. They are available to students on both the broad programme and the accelerated programme (second year entry).

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

You will be taught through a combination of:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • practicals

In Year 1, lectures are usually interactive; lecturers use online voting systems and encourage small-group discussions to improve your understanding of core material.

Lectures in later years follow a more 'traditional' lecturing style but occasionally include the voting system.

Workshops and practicals

Lectures are supported by small-group workshops. These sessions give you the opportunity to apply the concepts you have learned in lectures and to develop your understanding. You will work with five to six other students, with a tutor on hand to support you and answer your questions.

Physics learning is supported by practicals. These use the latest teaching technology and help you to develop your problem-solving skills.

Support

You will have access to broad-ranging support from within the School of Mathematics, including:

  • drop-in Year 1 mathematics support
  • option to take part in our peer-assisted learning scheme, MathPALS
  • Mathematics Student Services team

How will I be assessed?

Mathematics courses

Mathematics courses are mostly assessed through exams.

In your first and second year, these exams are primarily 'open book' exams, where you can use your textbook and notes. This allows you to concentrate on understanding and using the ideas and concepts involved, rather than memorising procedures.

In later years, there is a mixture of open and closed-book exams, depending on the course.

Most mathematics courses have regular assessments throughout the year, both written and online, so you can get feedback on your progress. These typically count for a small part of your course grade.

Later in the degree, there are some courses available which are entirely assessed by coursework, usually in the form of reports, posters, projects or presentations.

Physics and computing courses

Physics practical and computing courses have laboratory write-ups and checkpoint assessments.

As a mathematics graduate, you will have a wide range of careers open to you.

Studying a joint honours degree enables you to develop a wider range of transferable skills, and opens up more varied employment opportunities.

You will develop skills that are highly sought-after by employers:

  • logical and analytic abilities
  • programming
  • data analysis
  • presentation skills
  • practical problem-solving

Our graduates

Many recent graduates have been employed by large firms in the financial sector. Others have gone into fields including:

  • software engineering
  • logistics
  • education
  • the civil service

Further study is also a popular option. You can progress from this programme into masters or PhD level study in mathematics or physics; or apply your training to postgraduate study in another subject.

We regularly invite alumni back to share their experiences and showcase the range of careers available to you.

Enhance your CV

Both Schools offer many opportunities to develop your skills and enhance your CV. For example:

  • Share your love of your subject by working with the wider community as a member of an Outreach Team.
  • Join a team of Student Ambassadors and enthuse prospective students.
  • Become a Peer Learning mentor and support Year 1 students.
  • Apply for a project scholarship and work with a lecturer during the summer.

Employability support

You will also be able to access the School’s weekly employability events including:

  • presentations from industry employers
  • alumni careers showcases
  • useful workshops to help you prepare for applying to internships, jobs and further study

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAAA (achievement by end of S5 preferred). BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: A*AA - A*AB in one set of exams.
  • IB: 38 points with 766 at HL - 34 points with 765 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: AABB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: A*AB.
  • IB: 32 points with 765 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: Mathematics at A and Physics at B. Higher Applications of Mathematics is not accepted in place of Higher Mathematics. Advanced Higher Mathematics is recommended. Your Mathematics qualifications must have been achieved no more than two academic years prior to entry. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: Mathematics at A* and Physics at B. Your Mathematics qualifications must have been achieved no more than two academic years prior to entry. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: Mathematics (Analysis and approaches only) at 7 and Physics at 5. Your Mathematics qualifications must have been achieved no more than two academic years prior to entry. SL: English at 5.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

For direct entry to second year the standard requirements must be exceeded, including the following:

  • SQA Advanced Highers: AAA to include Mathematics and Physics. Your Mathematics qualifications must have been achieved no more than two academic years prior to entry.
  • A Levels: A*AA in one set of exams to include Mathematics at A*, Further Mathematics, and Physics. Your Mathematics qualifications must have been achieved no more than two academic years prior to entry.
  • IB: 38 points with 766 at HL to include Mathematics (Analysis and approaches only) at 7 and Physics at 6. Your Mathematics qualifications must have been achieved no more than two academic years prior to entry*. (Revised 02/04/2024 to remove recommendation for Further Mathematics.)
Other entry pathways

Entry to many degrees in Science & Engineering is possible via other qualifications (eg HNC/D, Access, SWAP).

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

SQA, GCSE and IB

For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

Selection

We normally make offers to the highest qualified applicants. If competition for places is high this may mean that offers will only be made to applicants who are predicted, or who have achieved, above the single set of grades or the upper grade level in a range. Any conditional offer made may require you to achieve grades above the upper grade level. Therefore, achieving the top of our standard entry requirements does not guarantee a place on the relevant degree.

Please apply for only one degree in the School of Mathematics as we are only able to consider one application to this subject area. You will have the opportunity to switch between programmes in later years provided the required courses have been passed.

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for BSc Mathematics and Physics

Additional costs

You should expect to buy the necessary textbooks for some components of your programme.

Funding

For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding

More information

How to apply

School: Mathematics

College: Science and Engineering