Mathematics and Philosophy | University of Oxford
Mathematics and Philosophy
The Penrose Paving, designed by Sir Roger Penrose, Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics.
(Credit: Mathematical Institute)

Mathematics and Philosophy

mortar boardUCAS codeGV15calendarDuration

3 years (BA)
4 years (MMathPhil)

pencilEntrance requirements

A*A*A with the A*s in Maths and Further Maths if taken

HeadSubject requirements  Maths
  Further Maths
tickAdmissions test(s)ox.ac.uk/matcrossWritten workNone
bar chartAdmissions statistics*

Interviewed: 44%
Successful: 14%
Intake: 17
*3-year average 2016-18

phoneContact

+44 (0) 1865 615205
Email Maths
+44 (0) 1865 276926
Email Philosophy

Subject requirements:       Essential       Recommended       Helpful – may be useful on course

This course brings together two of the most fundamental and widely-applicable intellectual skills. Mathematical knowledge and the ability to use it is the most important means of tackling quantifiable problems, while philosophical training enhances the ability to analyse issues, question received assumptions and clearly articulate understanding. The combination provides a powerful background from which to proceed to graduate study in either mathematics or philosophy or to pursue a diverse range of careers.

Historically, there have been strong links between mathematics and philosophy; logic, an important branch of both subjects, provides a natural bridge between the two, as does the philosophy of mathematics. The degree is founded on the belief that the parallel study of these related disciplines can significantly enhance your understanding of each.



The Philosophy Faculty is the largest in the UK, and one of the largest in the world, with more than 70 full-time members and admitting around 450 undergraduates annually to read the various degrees involving Philosophy. Many faculty members have a worldwide reputation, and the faculty has the highest research ratings of any philosophy department in the UK. The Philosophy Library is among the best in the country. The large number of undergraduates and graduates reading Philosophy with a variety of other disciplines affords the opportunity to participate in a diverse and lively philosophical community.

In turn the Mathematics Department, housed in the Andrew Wiles Building, is also one of the largest and best in the UK and contains within it many world-class research groups. This is reflected in the wide choice of mathematics topics available to you, especially in the fourth year.

 students at a lecture“I came to Oxford because I wanted to study at one of the best universities in the country. I enjoy the reading in preparation for essays and also the tutorials, especially the philosophical discussions; it’s really interesting to try and make your point clearer and to discover sides of the argument you’d never thought about. Organising your time is very important. If you enjoyed maths and further maths at A-level and you find questions in philosophy interesting then this is definitely the course for you.”
THOMAS

A typical week

  • Years 1 and 2: up to ten lectures a week, two–three tutorials a week
  • Years 3 and 4: up to eight lectures a week. Equivalent of eight units taken each year. Weekly tutorials per philosophy subject. Fortnightly classes per mathematics unit. 

Tutorials are usually 2-4 students and a tutor. Class sizes may vary depending on the options you choose. There would usually be around 8-12 students though classes for some of the more popular papers may be larger. Most tutorials, classes, and lectures are delivered by staff who are tutors in their subject. Many are world-leading experts with years of experience in teaching and research. Some teaching may also be delivered by postgraduate students who are usually studying at doctorate level.

To find out more about how our teaching year is structured, visit our Academic Year page.

Course structure

There are two Mathematics and Philosophy degrees, the three-year BA and the four-year MMathPhil. Decisions regarding continuation to the fourth year do not have to be made until the third year.

The mathematics units in this joint course are all from the single-subject Mathematics course. Accordingly the standard in mathematics for admission to the joint course is the same as for admission to the single-subject Mathematics course. The compulsory core mathematics for the joint course consists mainly of the pure (as opposed to applied) mathematics from the compulsory core for the single-subject Mathematics course. The philosophy units for the Mathematics and Philosophy course are mostly shared with the other joint courses with Philosophy.

In the first year all parts of the course are compulsory. In the second and third years some subjects are compulsory, consisting of core mathematics and philosophy and bridge papers on philosophy of mathematics and on foundations (logic and set theory), but you also choose options. In the fourth year there are no compulsory subjects, and you can do all mathematics, all philosophy, or a combination of the two.

YEAR 1

COURSES

  • Mathematics
    • Algebra
    • Analysis
    • Calculus and probability
  • Philosophy
    • Elements of deductive logic
    • General philosophy
    • Frege, Foundations of Arithmetic

ASSESSMENT

First University examinations: five compulsory written papers

YEARS 2 AND 3

COURSES

  • Mathematics
    • Core pure mathematics (Algebra, Metric spaces, Complex analysis)
    • Foundations (Set theory, Logic)
    • Intermediate mathematics options
  • Philosophy
    • Knowledge and reality or Early Modern philosophy
    • Philosophy of mathematics
    • Further philosophy papers

ASSESSMENT

Final University examinations, Part A (Year 2): two written papers on pure mathematics core and two written papers on mathematics options

Final University examinations, Part B (Year 3): four 90-minute exams in Mathematics and three three-hour papers in Philosophy and either two further 90-minute Mathematics exams or one further three-hour Philosophy paper (or the equivalent)

YEAR 4

COURSES

  • Mathematics
    Advanced options including:
    • Axiomatic set theory
    • Elliptic curves
    • Gödel’s incompleteness theorems
    • Infinite groups
    • Model theory
    • Stochastic differential equations
    • Optional mathematics dissertation
  • Philosophy
    • Advanced options in Philosophy
    • Optional Philosophy thesis

The options listed above are illustrative and may change. A full list of current options is available on the Mathematics website and the Philosophy website.

ASSESSMENT

Final University Examinations, Part C: Philosophy subjects include a 5000-word essay. Students study
three Philosophy subjects or eight Mathematics units, or a mixture of the two disciplines. A 2:1 is
currently required to progress to Part C.

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

Academic requirements 

A-levels:A*A*A with the A*s in Mathematics and Further Mathematics (if taken). For those whom Further Mathematics is not available: either A*AAa with A* in Mathematics and a in AS-level Further Mathematics or A*AA with A* in Mathematics.
Advanced Highers:                    AA/AAB
IB: 39 (including core points) with 766 at HL (the 7 must be in Higher Level Mathematics)
Or any other equivalent (see other UK qualifications, and international qualifications

Wherever possible, your grades are considered in the context in which they have been achieved.  (See further information on how we use contextual data.) 

Subject requirements

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

If, and only if, you have chosen to take any science A-levels, we expect you to take and pass the practical component in addition to meeting any overall grade requirement.

If English is not your first language you may also need to meet our English language requirements.

Applying

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.

Admissions test

Test: MAT
Test date:30 October 2019            
Registration deadline:                   6pm 15 October 2019                                                                                                      

All candidates must take the Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT) as part of their application. Separate registration for each test is required and it is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered for these tests. We strongly recommend making the arrangements in plenty of time before the deadline.

Everything you need to know, including guidance on how to prepare, can be found on the MAT page

Written work

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

What are tutors looking for?

During the interview for philosophy you will be given the opportunity to show a critical and analytical approach to abstract questions and the ability to defend a viewpoint by reasoned argument. In mathematics you may find yourself asked to look at problems of a type that you have never seen before. Don’t worry, we will help you! We want to see if you can respond to suggestions as to how to tackle new things, rather than find out simply what you have been taught. 

For more detail on the selection criteria for this course, please see the Mathematics and Philosophy websites.

Careers

Graduates secure positions in diverse areas such as software development, teaching, research, the public sector, including the Civil and Diplomatic Services and journalism, both in the UK and abroad. Around 30% of graduates go on to further academic study.

Katherine currently works for the Bodleian Libraries. She found that the logical problem-solving skills and attention to detail she gained from studying mathematics came in useful when tackling new technical challenges in her work and whilst she completed a second graduate degree. The experience of studying both subjects so intensely, and having to pick up and apply new knowledge quickly, gave her the confidence to work with new subject areas, including legal and medical research libraries.

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.)

Latest information for UK and EU undergraduates who will begin their course in 2020 can be found here. Further information for EU students starting in 2020 is available here.

The fees and funding information below relates to those who will start at Oxford in 2020.

Fees

These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2020.

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU£9,250
Islands
(Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
£9,250
Overseas£28,330

For more information please refer to our course 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 of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave 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 2020 are estimated to be between £1,135 and £1,650 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 tuition fee loan is available from the UK government to cover course fees in full for Home (UK)/EU students undertaking their first undergraduate degree*, so you don’t need to pay your course fees up front.

In 2020 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to UK and EU students with a family income of around £42,875 or less, with additional opportunities available to UK students from households with incomes of £27,500 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 Bursaries and Scholarships 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 Philosophy

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

Contextual information

The Key Information Sets provides applicants with statistics about undergraduate life at Oxford. But there is so much more to an Oxford degree that the numbers can’t convey.

The Oxford tutorial

College tutorials are central to teaching at Oxford. Typically, they take place in your college and are led by your academic tutor(s) who teach as well as do their own research. Students will also receive teaching in a variety of other ways, depending on the course. This will include lectures and classes, and may include laboratory work and fieldwork. However, tutorials offer a level of personalised attention from academic experts unavailable at most universities.

During tutorials (normally lasting an hour), college subject tutors will give you and one or two tutorial partners feedback on prepared work and cover a topic in depth. The other student(s) in your college tutorials will be from your year group, doing the same course as you and will normally be at your college. Such regular and rigorous academic discussion develops and facilitates learning in a way that isn’t possible through lectures alone. Tutorials also allow for close progress monitoring so tutors can quickly provide additional support if necessary.

Read more about tutorials and an Oxford education

College life

Our colleges are at the heart of Oxford’s reputation as one of the best universities in the world.

  • At Oxford, everyone is a member of a college as well as their subject department(s) and the University. Students therefore have both the benefits of belonging to a large, renowned institution and to a small and friendly academic community. Each college or hall is made up of academic and support staff, and students. Colleges provide a safe, supportive environment leaving you free to focus on your studies, enjoy time with friends and make the most of the huge variety of opportunities.
  • Each college has a unique character, but generally their facilities are similar. Each one, large or small, will have the following essential facilities:
    • Porters’ lodge (a staffed entrance and reception)
    • Dining hall
    • Lending library (often open 24/7 in term time)
    • Student accommodation
    • Tutors’ teaching rooms
    • Chapel and/or music rooms
    • Laundry
    • Green spaces
    • Common room (known as the JCR).
  • All first year students are offered college accommodation either on the main site of their college or in a nearby college annexe. This means that your neighbours will also be ‘freshers’ and new to life at Oxford. This accommodation is guaranteed, so you don’t need to worry about finding somewhere to live after accepting a place here, all of this is organised for you before you arrive.
  • All colleges offer at least one further year of accommodation and some offer it for the entire duration of your degree. You may choose to take up the option to live in your college for the whole of your time at Oxford, or you might decide to arrange your own accommodation after your first year – perhaps because you want to live with friends from other colleges.
  • While college academic tutors primarily support your academic development, you can also ask their advice on other things. Lots of other college staff including welfare officers help students settle in and are available to offer guidance on practical or health matters. Current students also actively support students in earlier years, sometimes as part of a college ‘family’ or as peer supporters trained by the University’s Counselling Service.

More about Oxford colleges and how you choose