What’s it like studying Mathematical Sciences?

Nathan Higgins

Why did I choose Maths?

If you are the type of person that enjoys solving difficult problems and rigorously proving results, a maths degree is for you. From learning initial definitions at the beginning of the course (which are the foundations of maths), you build on these concepts to develop your knowledge so you can tackle increasingly challenging questions.

What is great about studying maths at Durham is that you are really well supported throughout your degree. In your first year, you of course have your lectures that teach you the core parts of each module, which come along with lecture notes and recordings of lectures if you ever miss a lecture or want to clarify something you don’t understand. On top of this, you have assignments, both formative (purely just for practice) and summative (count towards your overall module mark) which make sure you are on top of the material.

What makes Durham really special is the tutorials. This is where you go to attempt practice questions prepared by your lecturer in groups of around 4 with a tutor there if you need help or guidance. Tutorials are so useful in making sure you truly understand what you have learnt that week.


In the first year, the course is laid out so that you get the chance to experience all the different aspects of maths. There is no choice of modules in the first year but they range from pure maths topics like calculus to the more applied side like the programming and statistics modules. It is designed this way so that you get the chance to see what you love, what you have a passion for, and what you want to tailor your degree to whilst you are at Durham.

Whether you’re stuck making the decision to go down the applied side of maths or the pure, the first year modules will help you in that decision. Even if you can’t make up your mind by the end of the first year, you get to choose what you study in future years so you can still mix and match modules to tailor your interests!

In future years, the choice of modules gets broader and broader, with modules in your third/fourth years being increasingly specialised and possibly delving into current research being taken in your chosen area of study.

Maths enhances your social life…

Whilst obviously your maths degree is important, your social life at university is also of great importance, so why not incorporate maths into that as well!

The Mathematical Society at Durham is run by students for students and organises a whole host of events to allow mathematicians to have fun and meet like-minded people. Events range from bar crawls to balls hosted in beautiful venues. There really is something for everyone! An example of an event this year was the Halloween quiz where my friends and I dressed up as Vector from Despicable Me – I hope you get the joke if you’re considering doing a maths degree!

…and provides eureka moments!

If you want to pursue a rewarding but challenging degree, I would highly recommend studying maths. I guarantee you will get stuck on problems in the first few weeks of term, but I also guarantee you will get that amazing feeling, that eureka moment once you break through and solve these tough problems.

Discover More

Our Department of Mathematical Sciences combines world-leading research with a dedication to the learning experience of our students. Ranked 7th in the UK in The Complete University Guide 2022, we offer a unique blend of high-quality teaching and research across a wide range of disciplines and provide practical experience to support future careers and employment prospects. 

Feeling inspired? Visit our Mathematical Sciences webpages to learn more about our postgraduate and undergraduate programmes. 

Create your own personalised prospectus here

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Useful links

BSc Mathematics – https://www.durham.ac.uk/study/courses/g100/

MMath Mathematics – https://www.durham.ac.uk/study/courses/g103/

BSc Mathematics and Statistics – https://www.durham.ac.uk/study/courses/g111/

MMath Mathematics and Statistics – https://www.durham.ac.uk/study/courses/g114/

BSc Natural Sciences – https://www.durham.ac.uk/study/courses/cfg0/

MSci Natural Sciences – https://www.durham.ac.uk/study/courses/fgc0/

Mathematical Society – https://www.durhamsu.com/groups/mathematical-society-8ee1

Nathan Higgins

My name is Nathan. I am a first year BSc Mathematical Sciences student at John Snow College. I really enjoy my course and find it incredibly interesting. Outside of my studies, I love to play lots of sports including football, squash and kayaking!

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