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 pure and applied mathematics, statistics and some computer programming.

Key features

  • 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 above 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

    • Mathematics I (MATH055)

      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.

    • Mathematics II (MATH056)

      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.

    • Data Mining and Algorithms (MATH057)

      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.

    • Applied Mathematics (MATH058)

      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.

    • Investigations in Mathematics (MATH059)

      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.

    • Computer Programming (SOFT051)

      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.

In light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the changeable nature of the situation and any updates to government guidance, we may need to make further, last minute adjustments to how we deliver our teaching and learning on some or all of our programmes, at any time during the academic year. We want to reassure you that even if we do have to adjust the way in which we teach our programmes, we will be working to maintain the quality of the student learning experience and learning outcomes at all times.
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

The UK is no longer part of the European Union. EU applicants should refer to our Brexit information to understand the implications.

New Student 2021-2022 2022-2023
Home £9,250 £9,250
International £14,200 £14,600
Part time (Home) £770 £770
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

  • 6 Our students say our teaching is outstanding: 98% agreed in the 2020 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

Emily Prestige – current student

"After an unsuccessful time with A levels, I was given the opportunity to study at the University of Plymouth with a foundation year. When I visited the University, I was greeted by the course lecturers and I immediately felt welcome. 

Within two weeks I had started the course. Completing the foundation year not only allowed me to solidify my mathematical knowledge, but also allowed me to adjust to university life.

I am now in my final year of the BSc (Hons) Mathematics and Statistics and am undertaking an MSc in Medical Statistics in September. Without the support of my lecturers, I would never have found my passion and I am so grateful for that. 

Over the years I have really appreciated the environment the lecturers created. It feels like a community that students are a part of, and, because of the small class sizes, the students can build working relationships with the faculty. In addition, lecturers have an open door policy which means that we always have the opportunity to ask questions.

My personal recommendation to students starting a degree is that, if you feel worried about the content or the change in lifestyle, then a foundation year could be perfect for you. Not only this, but the support offered through schemes like PALS could give you an extra chance to get advice from older students."

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

Paula Oben – current student

"Completing the Foundation Year really helped me build my confidence and helped me prepare for 1st year, by bridging gaps in my knowledge and strengthening previous education. We have the same lecturers that other years have, so we have a stronger knowledge of how the academic life of university works, which a lot of the students going straight to the 1st year will not have."

Find out more about Paula Oben

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

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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

Athena Swan Bronze

The School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics was awarded an Athena Swan Bronze award in October 2020 which demonstrates our ongoing commitment to advancing gender equality and success for all.

Advice on personal statements

"Your personal statement should paint a picture of why you want to study mathematics — use it to show me your enthusiasm for the subject. For example, tell me which topics have particularly excited you, and why."

"Outside interests and work experience can show more about you – 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, so do mention them, but remember to keep the focus on your studies."

Dr Nathan Broomhead, Admissions Tutor in Mathematical Sciences

Meet some of your lecturers

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