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. This degree will provide you with the necessary mathematical language to be able to describe, analyse and predict natural phenomena. Final year modules include classical and quantum mechanics, electrodynamics and relativity, fluid dynamics and partial differential equations.

You will be 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. As such a particular highlight of the degree is the choice of project modules in which you can work with our researchers to explore aspects of modern physics in depth.

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.

Which mathematics degree is right for me?

Opportunities available...

  • A scholarship scheme is available: for more information, see the 'Fees, costs and funding' section, below.
  • Excellence schemes: we may make you a personalised offer if you are a strong candidate – visit our webpage for details.

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

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.

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Dr Ben King teaching vector calculus and the evidence for dark matter<br></p>

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.   
  • When our new engineering and design facility is launched, students in engineering, science and the arts will have access to a range of specialist equipment and innovative laboratories.
  • 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

  • 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
    • Quantum Computing
    • Relativity and Cosmology

    Optional modules:

    • Mathematics of Planet Earth
    • Project
    • Industrial Placement
    • School Placement
    • Fluid Dynamics
    • Modelling and Numerical Simulation
    • Optimisation, Networks and Graphs

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 Hons Mathematics with Theoretical Physics Programme Specification 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.

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

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.uk for 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

New Student 2022-2023 2023-2024
Home £9,250 £9,250
International £14,600 £16,300
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.

Scholarships for outstanding School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics applicants


The School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics Scholarship Scheme recognises and rewards the achievements of high achieving entrants to our undergraduate degree programmes. Scholarships of £1,000 will be automatically awarded to the highest qualified 12 new entrants from across our four disciplines - Engineering, Computing, Mathematics and Navigation. Selection will be based upon entry qualifications and strength of application. Awards will be made during first year of study.

This scheme is open to home students only. 

There are additional subject specific prizes and awards to reward outstanding achievement in later stages of study.

Undergraduate scholarships for international students

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

Find out whether you are eligible and how you can apply

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 admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.

  • < Accredited by the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications and recognised for membership by the Institute of Physics
  • 6 In the 2022 National Student Survey, 100% of our final year students said that ‘Staff are good at explaining things’.*

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.
<p>Elizabeth Goult - BSc (Hons) Mathematics </p>

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.

<p>string theory theoretical physics&nbsp;</p>

People

  • Head of School and substantive Professor of Mathematics
  • Associate Head of School for Mathematics
    Associate Head of School - Outreach and Admissions, Admissions Tutor
  • Lecturer in Pure Mathematics
    Admissions Tutor
  • Associate Professor in Mathematics
    Associate Head of School for Mathematical Sciences, Pure Mathematician
  • Deputy Head of School
    Teaching and Learning, Statistician, Senior Fellow of the HE Academy
  • Lecturer in Statistics
    Mathematical Sciences Employability Lead
  • Lecturer in Mathematics
    Programme Manager, Applied Mathematician
  • Visiting Professor
    High Performance Computing Lead, Associate Member CERN theory group
  • Associate Professor of Statistics
    First Year Tutor, Royal Statistical Society South West Local Group Secretary
  • Associate Professor of Theoretical Physics
    Final Year Tutor, Otto Hahn Medal winner
  • Lecturer in Mathematics Education
    Mathematics Education Lead
  • Professor in Theoretical Physics
    Professor of Theoretical Physics
  • Associate Professor of Data Science and Statistics
    MSc Programme Manager, Data Analytics
  • Lecturer in Statistics
    Financial Statistics lecturer
  • Lecturer in Theoretical Physics
    Member HPQCD collaboration
  • Associate Professor in Mathematics and Statistics
    Royal Statistical Society South West Chair, Senior Fellow of the HE Academy
  • Lecturer in Mathematical Sciences
    Applied Mathematician
  • Lecturer in Applied Mathematics
    Foundation Year Programme Manager, Lead of the Plymouth GPU Research Centre
  • Associate Professor in Theoretical Physics
    Theoretical Physicist, Member User Forum of the UK Central Laser Facility
  • Lecturer in Theoretical Physics
    Associate Member CERN theory group
  • Visiting Researcher
    Emeritus Professor

New engineering and design facility

"The building will provide 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 will provide a home for the School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics and additional space for the School of Art, Design and Architecture.
<p>New Engineering and Design Facility</p>

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

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.”

Mathematics graduate Edward Evans

<p>athena swan bronze</p>

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 is updated annually in September.