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. 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. 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.

The Plymouth Mathematics Scholarship

Up to £1,000

Students are automatically paid £500 for an A in Mathematics A level and/or a further sum of £500 for an A in Further Mathematics. This is awarded to home/EU applicants who put us as their firm choice before the 1 August 2020. The scholarship is paid during the first semester of the first year.

There are additional prizes and awards to reward high achievement in later years of the degree.

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?

Theoretical physics uses high-level mathematics to describe nature at the smallest and largest scales.

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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.
  • Study the foundation of modern theoretical physics in modules such as Classical and Quantum Mechanics, and Electrodynamics and Relativity.
  • Carry out an in-depth final year project in theoretical physics on topics such as quantum computers, black holes, teleportation or the quark model. You will be supervised by a leading academic: our theoretical physicists have research connections across the globe, including CERN and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. Linear algebra is taught by a collaborator of a 2018 physics Nobel Prize winner.
  • Learn high-level programming skills and master industry software including Python, R and parallel programming on a supercomputer.
  • Increase your employability with an optional but strongly-recommended 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
    • BPIE113 Stage 1 Mathematics Placement Preparation

      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.

    • MATH1601 Mathematical Reasoning

      This module introduces the basic reasoning skills needed to develop and apply mathematical ideas. Clear logical thinking is central to the understanding of mathematics. The module explores fundamental properties of prime numbers, their random generation and use in modern 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 an emphasis on proof and rigour and introduces some multi-dimensional calculus together with the reasoning skills needed for the development of modern mathematics. Analysis is the rigorous underpinning of calculus and these key ideas are 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 is explored. The techniques that are 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.

    • MATH1610 Numerical and Computational Methods

      This module provides an introduction to appropriate mathematical software, computational mathematics and creating simple computer programs. Students will use mathematical software interactively and also write programs in an appropriate computer language. The elementary numerical methods which underlie industrial and scientific applications will be studied.

    • MATH1611 Geometry and Group Theory

      This module will introduce the foundations of group theory, elementary geometric topology, and Euclidean geometry.

  • 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

      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.

    • MATH2601 Advanced Calculus

      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 relations between integration and differentiation in higher dimensional hyperspaces. This knowledge is applied to various real world problems.

    • MATH2603 Ordinary Differential Equations

      The module aims to provide an introduction to different types of ordinary differential equations and the analytical and numerical methods needed to obtain their solutions. Extensive use is 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. The skills in computational simulation developed in this module have many applications.

    • 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 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
    • 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

      All of physics and a large part of applied mathematics is based on classical mechanics and its extension to quantum theory. This module introduces key ideas of these topics to students with a mathematics background. An overarching theme is 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 also explains 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.

    • MATH3614 Medical Statistics

      The content includes the design and analysis of clinical trials, including crossover and sequential designs and an introduction to meta-analysis. Epidemiology is studied, including case-control and cohort studies. Survival analysis is covered in detail. Computer packages are used throughout.

    • MATH3616 Professional Experience in Industry

      This module provides an opportunity for students to gain experience in applying mathematics in a commercial setting by undertaking a summer placement. Students develop their skills in written and verbal communication, listening, problem solving, time management, teamwork and leadership. Recent summer placement providers include Babcock International, BMW Group, Chess Dynamics Ltd and South West Water.

    • 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

      Students who have identified a topic of particular interest have the opportunity to study it in a final year project. Students work individually and independently, with help and advice from a supervisor, on the chosen topic. The project is assessed through presentations and the preparation of a dissertation. This is a major piece of work and the project counts as two modules

    • MATH3629 Fluid Dynamics

      Fluid flow problems are at the heart of systems ranging from weather forecasting and climate models to hydroelectricity generation and aerodynamics. They are all formulated mathematically as systems of partial differential equations. These are then solved and the results interpreted for a mixture of theoretical and practical examples of both inviscid and viscous fluid flows. Applications studied 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:

BSc Mathematics with Theoretical Physics Programme Specification September 2019 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.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.

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

English language requirements

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 2019 2020
Home/EU £9,250 To be confirmed
International £13,400 To be confirmed
Part time (Home/EU) To be confirmed To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of 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.

The Plymouth Mathematics Scholarship

Up to £1,000. 

Students are automatically paid £500 for an A in Mathematics A level and/or a further sum of £500 for an A in Further Mathematics. This is awarded to home/EU applicants who put us as their firm choice before the 1 August 2020. The scholarship is paid during the first semester of the first year.

There are additional prizes and awards to reward high achievement in later years of the degree.

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 international-admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.

  • @ 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.
  • < Accredited by the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications and recognised for membership by the Institute of Physics
  • 6 Benefit from outstanding teaching: in the 2018 National Student Survey 99% of our final year students said that 'Staff are good at explaining mathematics’.* This is part of a proud track record of success in the National Student Survey (NSS).

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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.

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

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.

People

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