Mathematics and Computer Science | University of Oxford
Mathematics and Computer Science
The entrance to the Mathematical Institute.
(Credit: Mathematical Institute)

Mathematics and Computer Science

This joint degree offers the opportunity to combine an appreciation of mathematical reasoning with an understanding of computing. Mathematics is a fundamental intellectual tool in computing, but computing is increasingly used as a key component in mathematical problem-solving.

 

The course concentrates on areas where mathematics and computing are most relevant to each other, emphasising the bridges between theory and practice. It offers opportunities for potential computer scientists both to develop a deeper understanding of the mathematical foundations of their subject, and to acquire a familiarity with the mathematics of application areas where computers can solve otherwise intractable problems. It also gives mathematicians access to both a practical understanding of the use of computers and a deeper understanding of the limits on the use of computers in their own subject.

The first year and part of the second year of the course are spent acquiring a firm grounding in the core topics from both subjects; students are then free to choose options from a wide range of Mathematics and Computer Science subjects. In the second year students take part in an industry-sponsored group design practical.

MCS Careers

This course gives training in logical thought and expression, and is a good preparation for many careers. About 20% of Mathematics and Computer Science graduates tend to go on to further study. Recent graduates secured positions as software and hardware professionals in research, finance and investment analysis, and include a product controller for an international bank, an actuarial consultant and an accountant.

Related courses

Students interested in this course might also like to consider other Mathematics courses, Computer Science or Computer Science and Philosophy.

The course

Mathematics and Computer Science can be studied for three years, leading to the award of a BA degree, or for four years, leading to the award of Master of Mathematics and Computer Science. The fourth year of the Mathematics and Computer Science degree provides the opportunity to study advanced topics and undertake a more in-depth research project. Everyone applies for the four-year course and chooses their exit point during the third year.

A typical weekly timetable

The typical week for a student in Mathematics and Computer Science is similar to that for Computer Science or Mathematics.

1st year

Courses

Core Mathematics (50%)
  • Analysis
  • Continuous maths
  • Groups and group actions
  • Introduction to complex numbers
  • Introduction to University maths
  • Linear algebra
  • Probability
Core Computer Science (50%)
  • Design and analysis of algorithms
  • Functional programming
  • Imperative programming

Assessment

Five written papers, plus practicals

2nd year

Courses

Computer Science (50%)
  • Concurrent programming
  • Logic and proof
  • Models of computation
  • Object-oriented programming
  • Intelligent systems
Core Mathematics (30%)
  • Linear algebra
  • Complex analysis
  • Metric spaces
Options in Mathematics (20%)

Assessment

Eight written papers plus practicals (including a group design practical)

3rd year

Courses

Mathematics

Options including:

  • Number theory
  • Communication theory

Computer Science

Options including:

  • Computer security
  • Computational learning theory
  • Computational complexity
  • Lambda calculus and types

Assessment

Eight written papers, plus practicals

4th year

Research

Mathematics

Advanced options including:

  • Model theory
  • Category theory
  • Lie groups
  • Probabilistic combinatorics

Computer Science

Advanced options including:

  • Computer animation
  • Machine learning
  • Computational linguistics
  • Automata, logic and games
  • Quantum computer science
  • Concurrent algorithms and data structures
  • Advanced security
The courses listed above are illustrative and may change. A full list of current options is available on the Mathematics and Computer Science websites.

Assessment

Approximately five written papers or take-home exams plus practicals, and either a Mathematics dissertation or a Computer Science project

Lists of options offered in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th years are illustrative only, and may change from time to time. Further information about all of our courses: www.cs.ox.ac.uk/ugadmissions

The content and format of this course may change in some circumstances. Read further information about potential course changes.

  • A-levels: A*AA. If Further Mathematics is taken, then including A*A between Mathematics and Further Mathematics; otherwise including A* in Mathematics
  • Advanced Highers: AA/AAB
  • IB: 39 (including core points) with 766 at HL
  • Or any other equivalent (see details of international qualifications)

Candidates are expected to have Mathematics to A-level (A or A* grade), Advanced Higher (A grade), Higher Level in the IB (score 7) or another equivalent. Further Mathematics is highly recommended. A science is also recommended.

All candidates must also take the Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT) as part of their application. Please see how to apply for further details. 

Oxford University is committed to recruiting the best and brightest students from all backgrounds. We offer a generous package of financial support to Home/EU students from lower-income households. (UK nationals living in the UK are usually Home students.)

Fees

These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2017.

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU£9,250£0£9,250
Islands
(Channel Islands
& Isle of Man)
£9,250£0£9,250
Overseas£23,190£7,350£30,540

For more information please refer to our tuition fees page. Fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details on the impact of the result of the UK referendum on its membership of the European Union.

Living costs

Living costs at Oxford might be less than you’d expect, as our world-class resources and college provision can help keep costs down.

Living costs for the academic year starting in 2017 are estimated to be between £1,002 and £1,471 for each month you are in Oxford. Our academic year is made up of three eight-week terms, so you would not usually need to be in Oxford for much more than six months of the year but may wish to budget over a nine-month period to ensure you also have sufficient funds during the holidays to meet essential costs. For further details please visit our living costs webpage.

Financial support

Home/EU

A full loan is available from the UK government to cover tuition fees for Home (UK) students undertaking their first undergraduate degree*, so you don’t need to pay your tuition fees up front.

Tuition fee support arrangements for EU students commencing their studies in 2017 have not yet been confirmed by the UK government. Information will be updated on this page as soon as it is announced.

In 2017 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to those on a family income of £42,875 or less, with additional opportunities available to those from households with incomes of £16,000 or less. This support is available in addition to the government living costs support.  See further details.

Islands
(Channel Islands and Isle of Man)

Islands students are entitled to different support to that of students from the rest of the UK.

Please refer the links below for information on the support to you available from your funding agency:

States of Jersey
States of Guernsey
Isle of Man

Overseas

Please refer to the "Other Scholarships" section of our Oxford support page.

*If you have studied at undergraduate level before and completed your course, you will be classed as an Equivalent or Lower Qualification student (ELQ) and won’t be eligible to receive government or Oxford funding

Fees, Funding and Scholarship search

Additional Fees and Charges Information for Mathematics and Computer Science

There are no compulsory costs for this course beyond the fees shown above and your living costs.

All candidates must follow the application procedure as shown in applying to Oxford. The information below gives specific details for students applying for this course.

Written work

You do not need to submit any written work when you apply for this course.

Written test

All candidates must take the Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT), normally at their own school or college on 2 November 2016. Candidates must make sure they are available to take the test at this time. Separate registration for this test is required and the final deadline for entries is 15 October 2016. It is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered for this test. See www.matoxford.org.uk for further details.

What are tutors looking for?

The most important qualities we are looking for are strong mathematical ability, the ability to think and work independently, the capacity to absorb and use new ideas, and a great deal of enthusiasm. We use this set of criteria and the result of the Admissions Test to decide whom to shortlist for interview.

At the interview we will explore how you tackle unfamiliar problems and new ideas. We are more interested in how you approach problem-solving than whether you can get straight to a solution.

We do not require any previous formal qualification in computing, but we do expect you to demonstrate a real interest in the subject.

Selection criteria

Candidates may wish to refer to the selection criteria for Mathematics.

Suggested reading

For information for prospective applicants to the Mathematics and Computer Science degree please see the information for Mathematics and for Computer Science.

Apply

Karyn Cooke, 1st year

Watch a series of short videos of students talking about some aspect of their time at Oxford.

Jessica, 2nd year

'For me the best bit of the course is the practical element, such as imperative programming. I like to see new techniques for algorithms and structures because I find it exciting to see how they could be used in the real world. I find the tutorial system very helpful – I think it is the best thing about Oxford. The people here are very competent and the facilities are well suited to the course.

My advice to prospective students would be: if you like both Mathematics and Computer Science and think you’ll enjoy the course, give it a shot and apply.'

Contextual information

The Key Information Sets provide a lot of numbers about the Oxford experience – but there is so much about what you get here that numbers can’t convey. It’s not just the quantity of the Oxford education that you need to consider, there is also the quality – let us tell you more.

Oxford’s tutorial system

Regular tutorials, which are the responsibility of the colleges, are the focal point of teaching and learning at Oxford. The tutorial system is one of the most distinctive features of an Oxford education: it ensures that students work closely with tutors throughout their undergraduate careers, and offers a learning experience which is second to none.

A typical tutorial is a one-hour meeting between a tutor and one, two, or three students to discuss reading and written work that the students have prepared in advance. It gives students the chance to interact directly with tutors, to engage with them in debate, to exchange ideas and argue, to ask questions, and of course to learn through the discussion of the prepared work. Many tutors are world-leaders in their fields of research, and Oxford undergraduates frequently learn of new discoveries before they are published.

Each student also receives teaching in a variety of other ways, depending on the course. This will include lectures and classes, and may include laboratory work and fieldwork. But the tutorial is the place where all the elements of the course come together and make sense. Meeting regularly with the same tutor – often weekly throughout the term – ensures a high level of individual attention and enables the process of learning and teaching to take place in the context of a student’s individual needs.

The tutorial system also offers the sustained commitment of one or more senior academics – as college tutors – to each student’s progress. It helps students to grow in confidence, to develop their skills in analysis and persuasive argument, and to flourish as independent learners and thinkers.

More information about tutorials

The benefits of the college system

  • Every Oxford student is a member of a college. The college system is at the heart of the Oxford experience, giving students the benefits of belonging to both a large and internationally renowned university and a much smaller, interdisciplinary, college community.
  • Each college brings together academics, undergraduate and postgraduate students, and college staff. The college gives its members the chance to be part of a close and friendly community made up of both leading academics and students from different subjects, year groups, cultures and countries. The relatively small size of each college means that it is easy to make friends and contribute to college life. There is a sense of belonging, which can be harder to achieve in a larger setting, and a supportive environment for study and all sorts of other activities.
  • Colleges organise tutorial teaching for their undergraduates, and one or more college tutors will oversee and guide each student’s progress throughout his or her career at Oxford. The college system fosters a sense of community between tutors and students, and among students themselves, allowing for close and supportive personal attention to each student’s academic development.

It is the norm that undergraduates live in college accommodation in their first year, and in many cases they will continue to be accommodated by their college for the majority or the entire duration of their course. Colleges invest heavily in providing an extensive range of services for their students, and as well as accommodation colleges provide food, library and IT resources, sports facilities and clubs, drama and music, social spaces and societies, access to travel or project grants, and extensive welfare support. For students the college often becomes the hub of their social, sporting and cultural life.

More about Oxford’s unique college system and how to choose a college