School of Computing, Electronics 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. A particular highlight of the degree is the choice of project modules to explore aspects of modern physics in depth.

We have strong links with CERN and the European Light Infrastructure. 95 per cent of our students felt our lecturers were good at explaining things and 100 per cent felt that the course was intellectually stimulating. Also 93 per cent agreed that 'As a result of the course, I feel confident in tackling unfamiliar problems’.

Theoretical physics uses high-level mathematics to describe nature at the smallest and largest scales. For example, a loop in a Feynman diagrams, such as on this picture of research carried out at Plymouth, corresponds to a four-dimensional integral

Key features

  • Study the foundation of modern theoretical physics in modules such as classical and quantum mechanics and electrodynamics and relativity.
  • Carry out a project in theoretical physics on topics such as quantum computers, black holes, teleportation and the quark model, supported by a leading academic.
  • Be inspired by a large group of theoretical physicists who have strong research connections across the globe including with CERN and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. Two of our lecturers are Associate CERN staff members, another leads the Lattice QCD/BSM group at CERN, and two are members of the UK’s Central Laser Facility user group.
  • Pure and applied mathematics, modules in probability and options in statistics: get to grips with the foundations of modern mathematics.
  • Benefit from outstanding teaching: in the 2016 National Student Survey 95 per cent of our final year students said that “Staff are good at explaining things” and 100 per cent felt that “The course is intellectually stimulating”.  
  • Leading research experts teach you: 68 per cent of our research papers were classified as ‘World Leading’ or ‘Internationally Excellent’ in the UK 2014 Research Excellence Framework.
  • You are equipped to succeed: you are given a tablet PC so that you can access Podcasts and eBooks which form part of the extensive suite of online support materials for your courses.
  • Become a confident, effective communicator, able to present your ideas visually, verbally and in writing. Small group tutorials help you acquire these skills. In the 2016 National Student Survey 82 per cent of our final year students said that “As a result of the course my communication skills have improved”.
  • “As a result of the course, I feel confident in tackling unfamiliar problems." 93 per cent of students agreed with this statement in the 2016 National Student Survey.
  • Our doors are open, we have a dedicated study space, the Maths Lab, clickers for immediate feedback in class, online podcasts – in short, we support you to reach your full potential.
  • Learn high-level programming skills and master industry software including Matlab and R. 
  • Increase your employability with a strongly-recommended paid industry placement between the second and final years. Typically students are paid around £17,000 and recent employers include GlaxoSmithKline, the Department of Communities and Local Government, VirginCare, Visteon and Jagex. 
  • 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.
  • Distinguish yourself professionally with a degree accredited by the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications and recognised for membership by the Institute of 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
    • BPIE113 Stage 1 Mathematics Placement Preparation

      This module is aimed at students who may be undertaking an industrial placement in the third year of their programme. It is designed to assist students in their search for a placement and in their preparation for the placement itself.

    • MATH1601 Mathematical Reasoning

      This module introduces the basic reasoning skills needed for the development and applications of modern mathematics. The importance of clear logical thinking will be explored in various mathematical topics. This will include fundamental properties of prime numbers, their random generation and use in cryptography.

    • MATH1602 Calculus and Analysis

      This module covers key topics in calculus and analysis and prepares students for the rest of their degree. It has a greater emphasis on proof and rigour than at A-level and introduces some multi-dimensional calculus together with the reasoning skills needed for the development of modern mathematics. The rigorous underpinning of analysis will be developed and applied to limits of sequences, series and functions.

    • MATH1603 Linear Algebra and Complex Numbers

      This module explores the concepts and applications of vectors, matrices and complex numbers. The deep connection between algebra and geometry will be explored. The techniques that will be presented in this module are at the foundation of many areas of mathematics, statistics, physics, and several other applications.

    • MATH1605 Probability with Applications

      An understanding of uncertainty and random phenomena is becoming increasingly important nowadays in daily life and for a variety of fields. The aim of this module in probability is to develop the concept of chance in a mathematical framework. Random variables are also introduced, with examples involving most of the common distributions and the concepts of expectation and variance of a random variable.

    • MATH1606 Numerical and Computational Methods

      This module provides an introduction to the Maple and Matlab software, computational mathematics and creating simple computer programs. Students will use Maple/Matlab interactively and also write procedures in the Maple/Matlab computer languages. The elementary numerical methods which underlie industrial and scientific applications will be studied.

    Optional modules
    • MATH1604PP Symmetry and Space

      This module will introduce the foundations of the study of symmetries - group theory, and the study of the characteristics of shapes and spaces - topology and geometry. The topics covered, and geometry in general, will be placed in the context of the wider discipline of mathematics, introducing their historical development and their relationship with (for example) art and physics.

    • MATH1607PP The Quantum Universe

      This course is for non-science specialists who have an interest in understanding our Universe. We will investigate our evolving view of the Universe from ancient times to the recent exciting discoveries such as dark matter and energy. The module will also highlight the phenomena of the Quantum World and will develop a basic understanding of quantum effects and their applications.

  • 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
    • BPIE213 Stage 2 Mathematics Placement Preparation

      This module is aimed at students who may be undertaking an industrial placement in the third year of their programme. It is designed build on the Level 1 module (BPIE111) and to assist students in their search for a placement and in their preparation for the placement itself.

    • MATH2601 Advanced Calculus

      Partial differentiation is consolidated and applied to practical problems. Multiple integration is introduced. Vector calculus is introduced and its use in integration explored.

    • MATH2603 Ordinary Differential Equations

      The module aims to provide an introduction to different types of ordinary differential equations and analytical and numerical methods to obtain their solutions. Extensive use will be made of computational mathematics packages. Applications to mechanical and chemical systems are considered as well as the chaotic behaviour seen in climate models.

    • MATH2604 Mathematical Methods and Applications

      Vector calculus is extended to higher dimensions and applied to a range of important scientific problems primarily from classical mechanics and cosmology. Differential and integral calculus is applied to the solution of differential equations and the orthogonal functions bases are constructed. The crucial mathematical concepts of integral transforms (Fourier and Laplace) and Fourier series are introduced.

    • MATH2605 Operational Research and Monte Carlo Methods

      This module gives students the opportunity to work on open-ended case studies in operational research (OR) and Monte Carlo methods, both of which are important methods in, for example, industry and finance. It allows students to work on their own and in teams to develop specific skills in OR and programming as well as refining their presentation and communication skills.

    • MATH2606 Real and Complex Analysis

      This module deepens the student's understanding of real analysis and introduces complex analysis. The important distinction between real and complex analysis is explored and the utility of the complex framework is demonstrated. The central role of power series and their convergence properties are studied in depth. Applications include the evaluation of improper integrals and the construction of harmonic functions.

    • MATH2607 Mathematical Programming

      The module will introduce some common mathematical methods used in high performance computing (HPC). The students will write and run some numerical programs on a high performance computer.

  • Year 3
  • 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
    • BPIE331 Mathematics and Statistics Placement

      A 48-week period of professional training spent as the third year of a sandwich programme undertaking an approved placement with a suitable company. This provides an opportunity for the student to gain experience of how mathematics and statistics are used in a working environment, to consolidate the first two stages of study and to prepare for the final stage and employment after graduation.

  • Final year
  • Explore a selection of modules that cover a diverse range of topics from classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, electrodynamics and special relativity that all use the core mathematical language of partial differential equations. Conduct a final year theoretical physics project with a supervisor from our theoretical physics research group, which in past years have included general relativity and black holes, the gravitational super highway, quantum algorithms, quantum field theory and the quark model. 

    Core modules
    • MATH3605 Partial Differential Equations

      This module introduces Partial Differential Equations using real-life problems. It provides a variety of analytic and numerical methods for their solution. It includes a wide range of applications including heat diffusion and the Tsunami wave.

    • MATH3606 Classical and Quantum Mechanics

      This module introduces advanced classical mechanics and the key ideas of quantum mechanics to students with a mathematics background. An overarching theme will be the key role of symmetry, both for classical motion and quantum behaviour.

    • MATH3611 Electrodynamics and Relativity

      This module introduces Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism and Einstein's theory of special relativity. It includes a wide range of applications of electromagnetism, the Lorentz transformations and some of the apparent paradoxes of relativity together with their resolution. It will also explain why E = mc^2.

    Optional modules
    • MATH3603 Professional Experience in Mathematics Education

      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 two semesters.

    • MATH3609 Optimisation, Networks and Graphs

      This module introduces the mathematics of continuous and discrete optimisation. It provides the theoretical background and practical algorithmic techniques required to model and solve a diverse range of problems.

    • MATH3612 Dynamical Systems

      This module presents an introduction to the basic concepts and techniques needed to analyse nonlinear dynamical systems modelled by differential equations and difference equations. Both regular and chaotic dynamics will be explored.

    • MATH3616 Professional Experience in Industry

      This module provides an opportunity for final year students to gain experience in applying mathematics in a professional environment and to develop relevant key competencies by working in a commercial environment for one day a week.

    • MATH3626 Theoretical Physics in Context

      In this module students will perform structured investigations on a variety of advanced topics in theoretical physics. Written and oral presentations of the work will be made.

    • MATH3628 Project

      In this module students will work individually and independently, with help and advice from a supervisor, on a topic chosen by the student. This could range from a topic preparing for a particular career or a subject which the student is particularly interested in exploring in depth. Written and oral presentations of the work will be made.

    • MATH3629 Fluid Dynamics

      Fluid flow problems are formulated mathematically as systems of partial differential equations. These will then be solved and the results interpreted for a mixture of theoretical and practical examples of both inviscid and viscous fluid flows. Applications studied will include: aeronautics, ocean waves and a variety of industrial topics.

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:

BScMathematicswithTheoreticalPhysics ProgrammeSpecification September2017 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

120 - 128

A level
A typical offer is 120 points to include minimum of 2 A levels, including grade B in A level Mathematics or B in Further Mathematics or A level Mathematics and Statistics or Math (Pure and Applied) excluding general studies. Mathematics (mechanics) accepted as mathematics.

BTEC
18 Unit BTEC National Diploma/QCF Extended Diploma: DDM to include a distinction in a mathematics subject: 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. English must be included.

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.

For a full list of all acceptable qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

English language requirements

Fees, costs and funding

New Student 2017 2018
Home/EU £9,250 To be confirmed
International £12,250 To be confirmed
Part time (Home/EU) Check with School To be confirmed
Part time (International) Check with School To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of credits. Fees are correct at the time of publication and may be subject to change.
Scholarships and Awards
For 2017 entry, we have the following scholarship:
  • Mathematics Scholarship of up to £1,000: students are automatically paid £500 for an A in Mathematics A level and/or £500 for an A in Further Mathematics A level. This is awarded to anybody who puts us as their firm choice before the 1st of August 2017. The scholarship is paid in the first semester of the first year.
  • There are additional prizes and awards to reward high marks in later years.

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 international-admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.



Studying Mathematics with Theoretical Physics

This degree will equip you with high level mathematical skills and a sound understanding of how to apply them to study natural phenomena in a choice of topics from pure mathematics, applied mathematics and theoretical physics.

You will use mathematics to solve a wide range of problems and have the opportunity to master standard software used in industry.

Find out more about studying Mathematics with Theoretical Physics

Mathematics Scholarships: up to £1000

Choose to study mathematics with Plymouth University and you may be eligible to receive a scholarship of up to £1000.

Make Plymouth University your firm choice before the 1st of August 2017 and you will automatically be paid £500 for an A in Mathematics A level and/or £500 for an A in Further Mathematics A level. You will receive the scholarship during the first semester of the first year.

Additional prizes and awards will be available in later years to reward high marks.

Why it’s a great time to study with us

Watch Plymouth University lecturer Dr Antonio Rago giving a Tedx talk

Technology supported learning

From podcasts, online videos, eBooks and electronic copies of lecture notes, to in-class voting and online feedback, you’ll have access to all the resources you need with your own tablet PC. You can also use this to create podcasts in assessments.

Access to University online systems such as module sites, the eLibrary and email at your fingertips.

Meet some of your lecturers

  • Associate Head of School
    Head of Mathematics and Statistics
  • Associate Head of School - School Outreach & Admissions
    Research in quantum field theory
  • Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer) in Theoretical Physics
    Research in laser-particle physics, User Forum member, UK Central Laser Facility
  • Lecturer in Theoretical Physics
    Research in laser-plasma physics, User Forum member, UK Central Laser Facility
  • Lecturer in Statistics
    Research in statistical methodology, member Cochrane Statistical Methods Group
  • Lecturer in Theorectical Physics
  • Associate Professor (Reader)
    Research in particle physics beyond Standard Model, assoc. member CERN theory gp
  • Lecturer in Theoretical Physics