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Mathematics at Corpus Fact File

Typical offer: A*A*A in A Levels (or equivalent), plus Grade 1 in STEP papers II and III

Required subjects: Mathematics, Further Mathematics

Typical number of Mathematics undergraduates admitted per year: 6-7

Submitted written work requirements: see our Written Work webpage

Admissions assessment: STEP Papers II and III as part of conditional offers (applicants may also be set a problem sheet to work through immediately prior to their interview)

Mathematics at Cambridge

The undergraduate course, called the Mathematical Tripos, is a three-year or a four-year course. It is widely considered to be a very tough course and is correspondingly rewarding. The range of subjects offered is exceptionally wide: you can learn about everything from black holes to abstruse problems in logic. If you graduate after three years, you receive the BA degree, and if you graduate after four years, you receive the BA and MMath degrees. In order to stay for the fourth year, you have to achieve a high standard in the third year.

In the first year, there are two options: (a) Pure and Applied Mathematics, and (b) Mathematics with Physics. Option (a) is designed for students intending to continue with mathematics after their first year, while option (b) is designed to lead either to Mathematics or Natural Sciences in the second year. For further details of the course structure and content see the admissions pages on the Faculty website. Those applicants interested in the MASt degree (for external people applying for Part III) should look at our postgraduate admissions page.  

Why study Mathematics at Corpus

Mathematics students at Corpus attend the same lectures as students from other colleges, which are organised centrally by the Faculty of Mathematics. Supervisions are arranged by the College, and are usually in groups of two. Most supervisions in the first two years are taught by members of the college, and in the third year Corpus joins forces with nine other Colleges so that teaching may be provided with specialists in each option. The central geographical position of Corpus ensures that Corpus students are well placed for lectures and supervisions. In addition, the College undergraduate library has multiple copies of many standard undergraduate texts, and also enables students to broaden their mathematical by reading away from the syllabus.

Our students often go on to success in mathematics research. A former Corpus student, Dr Susan Howson, was the first woman to win the prestigious Adams Prize in its 170-year history. Other highlights include the discovery of the 'Corpus Christi Prime number', shown at the bottom of this page left, by a past undergraduate Jack Hodkinson.

Many mathematicians throughout the University join the Archimedeans, a society with a programme of speaker meetings and other activities for students. Corpus mathematicians also have the benefit of the T. Batterby Mathematics Society, named after a former Corpus mathematician, and the annual T. Batterby dinner is held after the exams each year. In many cases, the College is able to offer financial support to students who need it.

You can listen to Prof. Abrahams, a Mathematics Fellow at Corpus, discussing what it is like to be director of the Isaac Newton Institute and reflecting on some of the interesting mathematical research that takes place there.

What do we look for in applicants?

Throughout the admissions process, we are looking for applicants who show the strongest aptitude for Mathematics. We aim to offer places to applicants who we think have the potential to thrive on this challenging degree course, regardless of background. Admissions decisions are made on the basis of the UCAS application, personal statement, reference, past exam achievement, predicted grades and interview performance. In the interview, we want to see how you tackle challenging mathematical problems and how you respond to hints from the interviewers.

Deferred entry, while not discouraged, is not positively encouraged -- the advantages of greater maturity and experience are often outweighed by the problems of rustiness associated with a long period away from mathematics.

Super-curricular resources
  • Mathematics applicants are encouraged to spend time practising challenging maths problems outside the school curriculum. There are lots of great online resources where you can find new maths problems, for example Underground Mathematics, NRICH, Ada Computer Science and IsaacPhysics.
  • Participating in competitions such as UKMT is a great way to work on challenging and unfamiliar maths problems.
  • The Cambridge Mathematics Faculty has a suggested reading list - maybe pick a couple of things from this to develop your knowledge of particular areas of mathematical interest.

The Corpus Christi Prime Number