School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics

BSc (Hons) Mathematics with Theoretical Physics

Acquire a deep insight into modern theories of nature using powerful mathematical techniques. Providingyou with the necessary mathematical language to be able to describe, analyse and predict natural phenomena. Lectured by world-leading researchers in theoretical physics, who have strong links to CERN, the European Light Infrastructure, and the UK’s Central Laser Facility. Choose your project modules where you can work with our researchers to explore aspects of modern physics in depth.

Colorful illustration of quantum theory, computer generated abstract background, 3D rendering

Mathematical sciences degrees

This is one of the suite of mathematics undergraduate degrees that we offer. You can find out more about the various options at the link below.

Opportunities available...

  • A scholarship scheme is available: for more information, see the 'Fees, costs and funding' section, below.

Discover mathematics at Plymouth

Explore profound and beautiful ideas and understand how they can be applied to the key challenges facing us today and tomorrow.

Dr Ben King teaching vector calculus and the evidence for dark matter

Studying mathematics with theoretical physics
Find out in detail about the course

Watch University of Plymouth lecturer Dr Antonio Rago giving a Tedx talk
Have you ever wondered what a particle physicist means when they talk about dark matter, or dark energy?

Welcome to mathematics and statistics at University of Plymouth

Supporting you to succeed
You are supported by an open door policy, a personal tutor system, peer assisted learning and much more

Key features

  • Study the foundation of modern theoretical physics in modules such as Classical and Quantum Mechanics, and Electrodynamics and Relativity.
  • Learn from world-leading researchers in theoretical physics, who will show you how the mathematics you study underpins and connects directly to modern research topics at the frontiers of physics; your first year course in linear algebra, for example, is taught by a collaborator of a 2018 Nobel Prize winner.
  • Carry out an in-depth final year project in theoretical physics on topics such as quantum computers, black holes, teleportation or the quark model, supervised by a leading academic: our theoretical physicists have research connections across the globe, including at CERN and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. 
  • Enjoy new facilities – state of the art lecture theatres, computer laboratories, study and social spaces – in our £50 million teaching and research building. 
  • Learn high-level programming skills and master industry software including Python, R and parallel programming on a supercomputer.
  • Increase your employability with an optional, paid, industry placement between the second and final years.
  • Progress, like our previous graduates, into careers in research, work in the Met Office, GCHQ, finance, industry and medicine or postgraduate degrees in applied mathematics and theoretical physics.

Course details

  • Year 1

  • Build strong mathematical foundations to support future investigations in theoretical physics. Topics include probability and randomness, which are key ideas in quantum theories, and tools such as group theory, which are used to describe fundamental symmetries in nature. Calculus and analysis plus linear algebra, essential for studying higher dimensional theories are also introduced along with an introduction to programming.

    Core modules

    • Stage 1 Mathematics Placement Preparation (BPIE113)

      The route to graduate-level employment is found easier with experience. These sessions are designed to assist students in their search for a year-long placement and in their preparation for the placement itself. Such placements are optional but strongly recommended.

    • Calculus (MATH1702)

      Calculus underpins mathematical modelling in science, finance and industry. This module gives students the ability to calculate accurately and efficiently. Key results are proven and calculus is extended to higher dimensions through partial differentiation and multiple integration. The methods covered in this module will be used by students throughout the rest of their degree.

    • Analysis and Group Theory (MATH1704)

      In this module we explore two fundamental areas of pure mathematics. Analysis provides a rigorous foundation of calculus, while group theory introduces important algebraic structures that are used in many branches of pure mathematics and their applications. A rigorous approach will be taken in both topics, with emphasis on proof. Python will be used to illustrate and investigate cutting edge applications.

    • Mathematical Reasoning (MATH1701)

      This module will introduce the basic reasoning skills needed for the development and applications of modern mathematics. It also introduces Python as a new tool for exploring and applying mathematics to real world problems. The importance of logical thinking will be investigated in various mathematical topics. This will include fundamental properties of prime numbers, their random generation and use in cryptography.

    • Linear Algebra (MATH1703)

      Vectors and matrices are fundamental in mathematics, and central to its applications in statistics, physics, data science, and engineering. This module develops practical skills in handling vectors and matrices, explores the mathematical structure of linear spaces, and elucidates their deep connections with analytic geometry.

    • Probability (MATH1705)

      An understanding of uncertainty and random phenomena is becoming increasingly important in daily life and in the modern workplace. The aim of this module is to develop the concept of chance in a mathematical framework. Random variables are introduced, with examples involving some common distributions, and the concepts of expectation, variance and correlation are investigated using mathematical tools.

    • Numerical Methods (MATH1706)

      In mathematics, solving most real world problems requires the use of computers. This module introduces computational mathematics and algorithms . Students will use mathematical software interactively and write programs in Python. The numerical methods which underlie industrial, scientific and financial applications will be studied.

  • Year 2

  • Review the evidence for the existence of dark matter and describe Newtonian cosmology using vector calculus. Acquire the mathematical language of quantum mechanics by learning about real and complex analysis. A case studies module introduces the powerful Monte Carlo technique which lies at the heart of statistical mechanics and is used to extract precision results from the Standard Model of particle physics.
    Core modules:
    • Advanced Calculus
    • Statistical Inference and Regression
    • Algebra and Transforms
    • Differential Equations
    • Operational Research
    • Complex Analysis and Vector Calculus
    • Stage 2 mathematics placement
      preparation

    Core modules

    • Stage 2 Mathematics Placement Preparation (BPIE213)

      These sessions are designed to help students obtain a year-long placement in the third year of their programme. Students are assisted both in their search for a placement and in their preparation for the placement itself.

    • Advanced Calculus (MATH2701)

      In this module the geometrical and dynamical concepts needed to describe higher-dimensional objects are introduced. This includes vector calculus techniques and new forms of integration, such as line integration. Students also explore the relationships between integration and differentiation in higher dimensions. We apply advanced calculus to problems from areas such as mechanics and electromagnetism.

    • Statistical Inference and Regression (MATH2702)

      This module provides a mathematical treatment of statistical methods for learning from the data abounding in the modern world. Confidence intervals and hypothesis testing are studied. Methods of estimation are explored, focusing on the maximum likelihood method. The module demonstrates the underlying theory of the general linear model. Applications are implemented using the professional statistical software, R.

    • Algebra and Transforms (MATH2703)

      This module introduces mathematical structures called rings and fields, which capture properties of objects such as integers, real numbers or polynomials. These structures are used to explore error-correcting codes for data transmission. Calculus is used to introduce Laplace and Fourier transforms, and Fourier series. They are applied to solve differential equations and uncover identities involving irrational numbers.

    • Differential Equations (MATH2704)

      Differential equations are used to describe changes in nature. This module introduces methods to find exact solutions to ordinary differential equations, and numerical solutions to ordinary and partial differential equations. Extensive use will be made of computational tools. The behaviour of higher dimensional systems will be analysed using the theory of continuous dynamical systems.

    • Operational Research (MATH2705)

      This module gives students the opportunity to work on open-ended case studies in Operational Research (OR) and Monte Carlo methods, both of which play an important role in many areas of industry and finance. Students work both on their own and in teams to develop expertise in Operational Research and programming. They will refine their presentation and communication skills, so enhancing their employability.

    • Complex Analysis and Vector Calculus (MATH2706)

      This module explores fundamental relationships between dimensionality and integration. Vector integration theorems for circulation, vorticity and divergence are introduced and vector calculus is applied to real-world examples, such as classical mechanics and orbital dynamics. The mathematics of complex numbers and functions are studied, revealing deep results with applications throughout mathematics.

  • Optional placement year

  • An optional, but highly recommended placement provides you with valuable paid professional experience to help make your CV stand out. Typically students are paid around £17,000 and employers have included the Fujitsu, GlaxoSmithKline, Liberty Living, Vauxhall Motors, VirginCare, Visteon and Jagex Games Studio.

    Core modules

    • Mathematics and Statistics Placement (BPIE331)

      A 48-week period of professional training is spent as the third year of a sandwich programme while undertaking an approved placement with a suitable company. This provides an opportunity for the student to gain experience of how mathematics is used in a working environment, to consolidate their previous study and to prepare for the final year and employment after graduation. Recent placement providers include GSK, the Office for National Statistics, NATS (air traffic control) and VW Group.

  • Final year

  • In your final year the focus is on modern physics and you have a choice of modules. Topics include classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, electrodynamics and special relativity. The mathematical language of the core partial differential equations module is essential. You can conduct a final year theoretical physics project with a supervisor from our theoretical physics research group. Projects have included general relativity and black holes, the gravitational super highway, quantum algorithms, quantum field theory and the quark model. 

    Core modules

    • Partial Differential Equations (MATH3701)

      This module deepens students’ understanding of partial differential equations and applies them to real world problems. It provides a variety of analytic and numerical methods for their solution. It includes a wide range of applications such as transport, heat diffusion, wave propagation and nonlinear phenomena.

    • Quantum Computing (MATH3705)

      Quantum mechanics describes physical systems at the atomic and molecular scale. This allows properties of matter and its interactions with light to be modelled, and these models underpin the rapid development of quantum technologies. This module introduces the principles of quantum mechanics and applies them to quantum computing. Students will study quantum algorithms and techniques to program quantum computers.

    • Relativity and Cosmology (MATH3707)

      This module introduces the basic concepts of special and general relativity, such as the Lorentz transformations, time dilation, and the curvature of space-time. These ideas help students to understand the basic concepts of modern cosmology, including the standard model of the expanding universe (FLRW model) and its extensions using dark matter and dark energy.

    Optional modules

    • Fluid Dynamics (MATH3704)

      In this module, students will learn how to use mathematics to model a variety of fluid flows. Fluid flow problems are described mathematically as ordinary or partial differential equations. These equations are then solved and the results interpreted for a mixture of theoretical and practical examples of both inviscid and viscous fluid flows. Applications from environmental and industrial modelling will be studied.

    • Industrial Placement (MATH3706)

      This module provides an opportunity for final year students to gain experience of applying mathematics in a professional environment. Students can carry out a placement in a wide variety of areas, including data science, finance, management, research, and software development. As part of this, they develop a range of skills that considerably increase future employment opportunities.

    • Modelling and Numerical Simulation (MATH3708)

      Simulations and modelling are crucial tools that support industrial research and innovation. Students will learn to analyse mathematical models and develop programs to solve them. They will investigate algorithms and discuss their performance. Students will code and run numerical programs on a high performance computer. These forward-looking skills are highly sought after by many employers.

    • Optimisation, Networks and Graphs (MATH3709)

      Optimisation and graph theory are related branches of mathematics with applications in areas as diverse as computer science and logistics. Graphs are used to capture relationships between objects, while optimisation studies algorithms that search for optimal solutions. This module provides both the theory and modern algorithms, including those used in artificial intelligence, required to solve a broad range of problems.

    • Mathematics of Planet Earth (MATH3712)

      Students work in small groups to research problems directly related to sustainability and the protection of the environment, so addressing some of the most serious problems faced by humanity. This can involve the solution of mathematical, statistical, computational, industrial or economic problems, or challenges in renewable energy engineering. Students present their conclusions orally and in a professional report.

    • Project (MATH3713)

      In this module, students perform individual independent research into a topic in Mathematical Sciences, or Mathematics Education. Students choose a subject to explore in depth, which they are particularly interested in, and receive regular advice and feedback from an expert supervisor. The outputs of the project are a dissertation and a presentation. This module is an ideal preparation for progressing to further study.

    • School Placement (MATH3714)

      This module provides an opportunity for final year students to gain experience in teaching and to develop their key educational skills by working in a school environment for one morning a week over both semesters. Students typically progress from assisting in the classroom to teaching a starter activity over the academic year.

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 Theoretical Physics Programme Specification September 2024 5359

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

112 - 128

A level
112-128 points, to include a minimum of 2 A levels, including B in Mathematics or Further Mathematics. (Pure Maths, Pure and Applied Maths, Maths and Statistics, Maths and Mechanics are also accepted as they are considered the same as the Maths A level). Excluding General Studies.
We do not run an unconditional offer scheme but may make personalised, lower offers to selected candidates.
BTEC
18 Unit BTEC National Diploma/QCF Extended Diploma: DDM to include a distinction in a mathematics unit: individual interview/diagnostic test will be required.
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 to HE Diploma (e.g mathematics, science, combined) with at least 33 credits at merit and/or distinction and to include at least 12 credits in mathematics units with merit. Individual interview/diagnostic test will be required please contact admissions@plymouth.ac.ukfor further information.
International Baccalaureate
30 overall to include 5 at Higher Level mathematics. 
Other qualifications are also welcome and will be considered individually, as will be individuals returning to education, email maths@plymouth.ac.uk.
Students may also apply for the BSc (Hons) Mathematics with Foundation Year. Successful completion of the foundation year guarantees automatic progression to the first year of any of our mathematics courses.
We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary. 

Fees, costs and funding

Student 2023-2024 2024-2025
Home £9,250 £9,250
International £16,300 £18,100
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. More information about fees and funding.

Undergraduate scholarships for international students

To reward outstanding achievement the University of Plymouth offers scholarship schemes to help towards funding your studies.

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.

Tuition fees for optional placement years

The fee for all undergraduate students completing any part of their placement year in the UK in 2023/2024 is £1,850.
The fee for all undergraduate students completing their whole placement year outside the UK in 2023/2024 is £1,385.
Learn more about placement year tuition fees

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 admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.

Virtual subject webinar

Tuesday 23 April, 16:00-17:00
Find out more about this programme by attending our virtual subject webinar. The virtual webinar will give you an overview of the programme and the opportunity to ask our academics any questions you may have. 

Work placements

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.
Elizabeth Goult - BSc (Hons) Mathematics
James Mitrussis sat at a desk with laptop

Research 

The Theoretical Physics group comprises eight permanent members of staff, as well as four postdocs and a number of research students. Research interests in the group include lattice QCD, laser-matter interactions, QFT in external fields, physics beyond the Standard Model, and infra-red effects in gauge theories. The Doctoral Programme in Theoretical Physics is STFC credited, giving further PhD students.
The group currently holds research grants from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Leverhulme Trust and the Royal Society. Together these grants are worth around a million pounds, and fund the group's research into a wide range of topics in fundamental physics. The group also holds time on UK supercomputers in Leicester, Cambridge and Edinburgh accounting for 22.7 million core hours of supercomputer time.
string theory theoretical physics 

People

Meet our school technical staff 

Our technical staff are integral to the delivery of all our programmes and bring a diverse range of expertise and skills to support students in laboratories and workshops.

Babbage Building: where engineering meets design

"The building provides a state-of-the-art setting to inspire the engineers and designers of tomorrow, making it the ultimate place to bring together students, academics and industry in an environment that not only benefits them but also society as a whole." – Professor Deborah Greaves OBE
Situated on the western edge of our city centre campus, the landmark new facility is home to the School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics and offers additional space for the School of Art, Design and Architecture.
New Engineering and Design Facility

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."
Equations in the mathematics laboratory

What it is like to carry out a project on our mathematics degrees

Your final year project is an opportunity to explore an area of mathematics in depth. In this video our graduate Edward Evans talks about his final year project on Fermat’s Last Theorem.
“It was difficult concepts to get my head around, but closer and closer to the end everything came together and I understood everything more. By the hand in date I had this document that I could be really proud of.”
athena swan bronze

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.

Studying mathematics at Plymouth

Professor David McMullan and a final year student discuss what it’s like to study here, and show you some of our facilities.
*These are the latest results from the National Student Survey. Please note that the data published on Discover Uni updated annually in September.