School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics

BSc (Hons) Mathematics with Foundation Year

Do you have a passion to study mathematics, but lack the normal entry requirements for one of our honours degrees? Perhaps you've shown evidence of good academic potential, but don’t have sufficient qualifications or have been out of formal education for a while. This four year degree route incorporates a foundation year, which will develop your skills in applied mathematics, statistics and some computer programming.

We are fourth in the Guardian Mathematics University League Table for 2020. We are very proud that the excellent teaching and care that our mathematics students receive has been recognised in this way. Our lecturers' expertise, teaching and passion for our subject leads to our students being successful in their studies.

Pre-register for Clearing

If you are yet to make an enquiry to study with the University of Plymouth and are interested in securing a place for September 2020, you can pre-register for Clearing to receive priority treatment on results day.

Read our Clearing advice

Key features

  • We are fourth in the Guardian Mathematics University League Table for 2020 entry. This is a testament to the expertise, clarity and passion of our lecturers.
  • Gain a solid background equivalent to A level Mathematics, plus part of Further Mathematics and an introduction to computer programming. We explain how to solve problems, and also prove the mathematical results and rules that we use to give you a deeper understanding.
  • You are taught on campus by University lecturers: you are a member of our University’s mathematics community from the start.
  • An average mark of at least 50% in your foundation year entitles you to progress to the first year of any of our range of mathematics degrees. Please see below for your progression opportunities.
  • You have a great deal of available support including: a study room next to staff offices; our lecturers’ open door policy; a mathematics drop-in centre in the library; and additional peer learning sessions led by second and third year students.
  • Leading research experts teach you: 68% of our research papers were classified as ‘World Leading’ or ‘Internationally Excellent’ in the UK 2014 Research Excellence Framework.

Course details

  • Foundation year
  • During the one year foundation course, you’ll take five mathematics modules and one on computer programming. As well as fundamental methods, such as trigonometry and calculus, you will study mechanics (which will introduce you to vectors) and statistics (using professional software). The course will improve your understanding of fundamental results, mastery of methods of proof and appreciation of mathematical writing. At the end of the year, you can transfer to any of our mathematics degrees provided you obtain an average mark of 50 per cent or above.

    Core modules
    • MATH055 Mathematics I

      This module is intended to provide a solid basis in advanced mathematics. Assuming a base of GSCE mathematics, the lectures move quickly to establish a solid appreciation of algebra, trigonometry, scientific functions and calculus. Topics studied will be: scientific notation; solving linear, quadratic and simultaneous equations; trigonometry; functions and their notation, including inverse and composite functions; and calculus.

    • MATH056 Mathematics II

      This module builds on MATH055 to establish a solid basis in calculus, complex numbers, differential equations and numerical methods. Topics studied build upon those from MATH055 including the product and chain rules of differentiation and integration by parts and substitution.

    • MATH057 Data Mining and Algorithms

      This module provides the basic skills required to discover patterns in data. Students will learn how to solve problems by analysing data. The course provides essential tools, techniques and algorithms for finding and describing structural patterns. Students will learn to extract useful information from the raw data and communicate their conclusions through analysis of examples. Topics studied will be: summary statistics; random behaviour; probability distributions; inference, optimisation and modelling.

    • MATH058 Applied Mathematics

      This module provides an introduction to applied mathematics. The focus of the module is on the use of mechanics to solve basic problems of an engineering and scientific nature in the real world. Topics studied are: modelling; forces; vectors; kinematics in one and two dimensions; Newton's laws; moments and energy.

    • MATH059 Investigations in Mathematics

      Students on this module will be introduced to a range of topics relevant to degree level study in mathematics and statistics and will investigate specific mathematical topics in more depth. During the course of the module, students will gain experience in both written and oral presentation of their work.

    • SOFT051 Computer Programming

      This module introduces students to fundamental computer programming concepts, which allow information to be stored, processed and presented. It includes fundamental aspects of web-application development, persistent data storage, user-interface design, and the use of an integrated development environment. As mathematical computation is becoming increasingly sophisticated, it is important that mathematicians can effectively deal with computer programming.

Every undergraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the course aims, the course structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest course structure and may be subject to change:

BSc Mathematics With Foundation Year Programme Specification September 2019 6114

The modules shown for this course are those currently being studied by our students, or are proposed new modules. Please note that programme structures and individual modules are subject to amendment from time to time as part of the University’s curriculum enrichment programme and in line with changes in the University’s policies and requirements.

Entry requirements

UCAS tariff

32 - 48

A level: a minimum of 2 A levels. Excluding general studies.

18 Unit BTEC National Diploma/QCF Extended Diploma: PPP
12 Unit BTEC National Certificate/QCF Diploma: MP

BTEC National Diploma modules
If you hold a BTEC qualification it is vital that you provide our Admissions team with details of the exact modules you have studied as part of the BTEC. This information enables us to process your application quickly and avoid delays in the progress of your application to study with us. Please explicitly state the full list of modules within your qualification at the time of application.

Access: pass Access course (preferably from a science/technology subject) (including GCSE English and mathematics grade C/4 or above or equivalent). For candidates that do not have a science, electrical or technology background please contact: for further advice.

International Baccalaureate: 24 overall to include 1 subject from science or technology. English and mathematics must be included.

GCSE: mathematics and English at grade C/4 or above.

Mature students with appropriate work experience are encouraged to apply. An informal discussion with an academic may aid the decision process and help you better prepare for the course. Other qualifications will be considered individually.

Students may also apply directly to BSc (Hons) Mathematics or any of our other mathematics degrees listed below on this page and they will be made an alternative offer of the foundation year if appropriate. All students offered a place on the foundation year will be offered the opportunity of taking a diagnostic test to see if it is appropriate to allow them to enter the first year directly.

We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated Brexit webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

New Student 2020 2021
Home/EU £9,250 To be confirmed
International £13,800 To be confirmed
Part time (Home/EU) £770 To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances. For more information about fees and funding please visit

Additional costs

This course is delivered by the Faculty of Science and Engineering and more details of any additional costs associated with the faculty's courses are listed on the following page: Additional fieldwork and equipment costs.

How to apply

All applications for undergraduate courses are made through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). 

UCAS will ask for the information contained in the box at the top of this course page including the UCAS course code and the institution code. 

To apply for this course and for more information about submitting an application including application deadline dates, please visit the UCAS website.

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email

  • @ We are fourth in the Guardian Mathematics University League Table for 2020 entry. This is a testament to the expertise, clarity and passion of our lecturers.
  • 6 Our students say our teaching is outstanding: 99% agreed in the 2018 National Student Survey that our lecturers are good at explaining mathematics

Your foundation year 

As part of a four-year degree, our foundation year in mathematics will enable you to gain a solid background equivalent to A level Mathematics plus part of Further Mathematics and an introduction to computer programming.

You will be taught on campus by university lecturers and so you will be a member of the University community right from the start. My colleagues are experts who will help you hone your skills so you are able to start on the first year of one of our degree courses with confidence.

The foundation year places an emphasis on developing understanding and logical thought - we explain not only how a mathematical technique works but also why it is true. All this helps our students reach their full potential. There are many great courses you can progress to from the foundation year. 

Dr Matthew Craven

Programme Manager for the mathematics foundation year

Opportunity to enter the first year immediately

By the end of induction week, all students accepted on to the foundation year will have had the opportunity to sit a diagnostic test. Students who meet the required standard will be allowed to immediately start their studies in the first year rather than the foundation year.

Our students say:

"Credit where credit is due, the online transition has been handled well by our Lecturers"

"I think the biggest achievement of lecturers during this time is not only showing that they care about your learning but also about your mental health."

"The Lecturers all did their best in the transition to online learning and having these lectures all recorded and available whenever is really beneficial"

"Lecturers offered their availability via email as usual with fast response times as well as support through Zoom or Skype"

"Our lecturer also asked us constantly how we all were and always cared to listen to our responses. He went above and beyond making sure that we were doing okay during the pandemic, not only with university work and exams, but with out own mental health and outside lives."

Sean McFadden – current student

The lecturers at the University have a passion for the subject matter. During my time at University of Plymouth I have discovered a real love of mathematics and developed a desire to learn.
Find out more about Sean McFadden

Sharon Alfred – graduate profile

I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do for a career when I started my studies but as the years went along I was able to discern my strengths and weaknesses. These helped me in making my decision to go on to study a masters degree.
Find out more about Sharon Alfred

Alexandra Tuijl – current student

Through completing this extra year I also feel that I’ve gained certain skills when it comes to the way we are expected to present our work, which other students going straight into first year will not have.

Find out more about Alexandra Tuijl

For anyone considering a foundation year, my advice would be absolutely do it. I cannot recommend it enough. No matter how you have arrived at this point, whether you’ve been out of education for a while or, like I had, have just finished/are finishing A levels, completing a foundation year will only benefit you.

For me, like many others, the year gave a clear insight into what is expected of you as a student at university. The year begins with bringing everyone up-to-speed with their basic mathematical knowledge and proceeds to introduce, for many, new material. I found that this set me up perfectly for the first-year modules and gave me a firm basis to progress confidently into my first year of the mathematics degree.

Mathematics at university is quite different to maths at school. It doesn’t only consist of solving problems with a pen and paper, we also use computer programs to find solutions and visualise our problems. Along with others, I had never encountered a mathematical computer program and the concept of programming was difficult to grasp. However, the foundation year gives students an opportunity to see and use these programs, which I feel gave me an advantage and ‘head-start’ when we later met programming again after I had progressed into the mathematics degree.

This is just one of many examples of how the foundation year helped me and could help you too.

Jess Card, BSc (Hons) Mathematics

Join in our conversation on Twitter:

Supporting blended teaching in 2020/21

Teaching will be a mix of online and in-person sessions. Our Mathematics students will be given a Wacom tablet and pen to share and discuss calculations with others in the online sessions. You can write on the tablet as you would on a piece of paper, and share a digital version, in real-time, with your lecturers or classmates on a virtual whiteboard.

Mathematical modelling of disease spread

In this video Dr Anton Ilderton explains how mathematics, via ordinary differential equations, can model epidemics. 

This video explains the origin and significance of the widely discussed quantity, R0.

Work placements

  • ? A placement year will give you the opportunity to experience working life, and can lead to a job offer upon graduation

Work placements

A ‘placement year’ is an excellent way to gain a competitive edge. It will set you up for when the graduate schemes launch and help you make better career decisions.

Elizabeth Goult gained important skills and career-defining experiences working for Plymouth Marine Laboratory as a student programmer.

Further information about mathematics student placements

Dr Martin Lavelle’s personal statement advice

“When I read your personal statement, the first thing I look for is enthusiasm about the subject. Your statement should paint a picture of why you want to study your degree. If you know what you want to do after the course, that is great but it is not essential.

“Your outside interests and work experience can show more about you – which topics have already engaged you and which books have you read? Have you been a trusted person at work? Have you volunteered to help others learn at school? Have you trained people in a sport? Any of these things makes you a stronger applicant.”

Meet some of your lecturers

* These are the latest results from the National Student Survey. Please note that the data published on Unistats is updated annually in September.