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Studying a Masters Degree In Mathematics

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Modern mathematics is an essential tool for problem solving in the fields of technology, engineering and science, but its use in decision-making is not limited to these areas.

A postgraduate course in maths – or a related postgrad program such as an MSc in Mathematical Data Science – is an excellent way for engineers or scientists who have an interest in the topic to further their career, but it is also the obvious choice for mathematicians.

What’s it like to study a Masters in Mathematics?

Whether you choose to attend a university in the UK or mainland Europe, the institution is likely to have the same aim – to educate the future generation of mathematicians. As a student you’ll find a masters degree in Mathematics teaches you to think critically about complicated ideas, to analyse the materials in front of you and to communicate your findings in a way that’s accessible to laypeople. Naturally, you’ll come to the program with a highly advanced mathematical skills set, but once you've graduated there will be a marked difference in your level of comprehension.

Why study a Masters in Maths?

A masters in Mathematics will train a student to use ways of applying their knowledge of the subject to real-world situations. You’ll be taught a variety of methods, with a focus on solving problems. These will often include the ways in which maths is relevant to a variety of disciplines and its use in finding solutions for industry. Most programs seek to give the topic an interdisciplinary edge, using themes from contemporary scientific computing, life sciences and engineering. Due to the vocational nature of this training, the majority of students will be encouraged to take up work experience placements in an industry of their choosing.

Students will learn how mathematical modelling helps a variety of professionals, from map designers to retailers, with understanding their data. They’ll look at the ways in which scientific computation is bridging the gap between maths, computing and engineering, and also consider its various uses. This academic study – combined with an applied approach – is designed to encourage an awareness of the ways in which modern mathematics is used in the world.

You can also choose to mix your masters in maths with another related specialism, such as statistics, computation, or transportation systems. This will broaden your education and enable you enjoy more choice when it comes to seeking employment.

Entry requirements 

Most universities in the UK and Europe require students to have achieved a 2.1, or upper second class honours degree – or the international equivalent – in either mathematics, or a closely linked subject. However, the qualifications needed, both in the UK and in Europe may vary, so always check with the institution you are applying to. Students who do not speak English as their first language may also have to show proof of their proficiency, in the form of a TOEFL, or the Test of English as a Foreign Language or an IELTS, the International English Language Testing System.

Mathematics Study modules

Along with the possibility of a professional placement, students will cover a number of study units. These could include modules on advanced numerical computation, case studies in industrial mathematics, algebraic number theory, linear analysis, combinatorial group theory and many others.

How to choose your university

When you’re unsure about which university will best suit your learning style and provide the kind of education you need, try looking through their printed course literature, or online prospectus for clarification. You could also contact the members of staff who run the course you’re interested in, visit on open days to speak to current students, or ask the university's admissions tutor for advice. Not all masters degrees in Mathematics are delivered in the same way, so being a little proactive in the short term will ensure the program you enrol on is right for you.

Student case study

Steve Murphy is taking an MSc Scientific Computation with Industrial Mathematics at Nottingham University, he says: "My favourite thing about this course is the relevance that it has to both real-world problems and also cutting edge research. I feel that after graduation I will have a host of sought after skills, gained on this course, that should set me above the rest in a competitive job market.”

Career opportunities 

The experience and training you receive from taking a higher maths degree can provide a head start when you enter into the labour market. Many employers are keen to have a mathematician on their team, and not just those whose business deals directly with the subject. You have been taught problem-solving skills along with extremely focused methods of analysis, giving you the ability to take on a range of challenging situations. Specifically, many students with a masters in maths find themselves at an advantage when seeking a role in finance, economics, computer sciences, and education.

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