BA Mathematics and Philosophy

This course is in international clearing

Since the time of the ancient Greeks, Mathematicians and Philosophers have sought to find the truth behind the underlying workings and meanings of the universe.

Both disciplines have their own identities, but there is a close relationship between the two. This programme explores both areas, as well as the interesting areas of study that they share.

Studying Mathematics and Philosophy at the University of Birmingham will give you access to world-class talent in fields as diverse as group theory, fluid dynamics, philosophy of mathematics, epistemology, ethics, philosophy of religion, philosophy of mind and many others. You will enjoy a rich and engaging academic experience and students on this programme rate it extremely highly. On average, 90% of Mathematics and Philosophy students reported that they are satisfied with the quality of the course in the latest National Student Survey.

EU referendum

Answering your questions and concerns about the outcome of the EU referendum.

Lucy Gold-Lewis

Lucy Gold-Lewis

“The best thing about studying Maths and Philosophy is how well-matched they are; I've learnt how to incorporate mathematical analysis into my essays and the philosophy side of my course has helped me take a logical approach to problem-solving. My favourite thing about the philosophy department is the freedom over module choices, you can really tailor the course to suit you. I chose Birmingham because there is always so much to see and do, you won't regret your choice to come here!”

The Philosophy Department at the University of Birmingham has an outstanding international reputation for excellence in teaching and research and was ranked second in the country in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.

Similarly, our well-equipped Mathematics department boasts academics who are global experts in their fields, conducting excellent teaching and conducting ground breaking research in areas such as fluid dynamics, analysis and group theory. The Department of Mathematics was ranked sixth in the country in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.

In your Philosophy studies, you will explore the great minds of history and the present day, both learning what they thought and engaging with them critically. You will focus on the fundamentals of western philosophy, including its history and contemporary concerns, with modules covering topics such as philosophy of mathematics, moral and political philosophy, and science and nature. We also provide you with training in reasoning and logic.

Meanwhile, your Mathematics studies are carefully designed to give you access to as many topics as possible. You will develop skills such as the ability to formulate and tackle problems, to think logically, to use technical language and to express complex ideas clearly and accurately.

Why study this course

  • Excellent employability development – 93% of our Philosophy and 87% of our Mathematics graduates enter work, or full time study, within six months of graduation. Visit our Employability page for more information.
  • Taught by experts – You will study alongside some of the finest minds in Philosophy and Mathematics. We are ranked second among all Philosophy departments and sixth among all Mathematics departments in the UK in the Research Excellence Framework 2014. Both departments are large enough to offer a broad spectrum of modules, but small enough to offer a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Staff know students by name and are always happy to talk about the topics raised in lectures and seminars or provide additional support and guidance, such as feedback on essays.
  • Flexibility – The variety of modules on offer will allow you to specialise more as you progress so that you can study areas of the discipline which interest you the most.
  • Exciting study abroad opportunities – You will have the opportunity to experience student life in a new environment. Our programme allows you to spend the third year of your degree studying Philosophy and Maths at an overseas university.
  • Diverse extracurricular activities – By joining the Philosophy Society or MathSoc you can make new friends who share your passion for your subjects. You can also attend interesting and diverse extra-curricular events as both societies are highly active and organise social events, guest speakers and debates throughout the academic year.

Open day talks

Two videos on YouTube from recent open day talks relevant to this course:

Modules

The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.

In this programme, you study half of your modules (60 credits) in Mathematics and half in Philosophy (60 credits).

First year

Philosophy first year

Compulsory modules:

  • Problems of Philosophy (20 credits)
  • Reasoning (10)
  • Formal Logic (10)

You then choose 20 credits out of the optional modules below:

  • Ethics: How should we live? (10)
  • Epistemology: What and how do we know? (10)
  • Philosophical Traditions: Existentialism (10)
  • Philosophy of Religion (10)
  • Political Philosophy: Can power be legitimate? (10)
  • Moral Problems (10)
  • Ancient Philosophy (10)

Philosophy first year detailed module descriptions

Mathematics: The first two years are carefully designed to allow you as much choice as possible in your final year. In the first year, you will take three compulsory modules: 'Real Analysis and the Calculus', 'Vectors, Geometry and Linear Algebra', and 'Mechanics'.

Second year

Philosophy second year

Compulsory modules:

  • Logic: Its limits and scope (20)

You then choose 40 credits out of the optional modules below:

  • The Mind-Body Problem (20)
  • Elements of Logic and Metaphysics (20)
  • Feminist Philosophy (20)
  • Speaking of Things (20)
  • Sex, Ethics and Philosophy (20)
  • The Ethics of Killing (20)
  • The Ethics and Politics of Climate Change (20)
  • Experience and Reason: Early Modern Philosophy (20)
  • History of Analytic Philosophy (20)

Philosophy second year detailed module descriptions

Mathematics: In your second year you will take four compulsory modules: 'Multivariable and Vector Analysis', 'Linear Algebra', 'Probability and Statistics', and 'Algebra and Combinatorics 1'.

Third year

Philosophy final year

Compulsory modules:

  • Philosophy of Mathematics (20)

You will also be expected to undertake an independent research project. You can chose to do this in either Mathematics or Philosophy. If you do a project in Mathematics you are not obliged to do another in Philosophy.

You then choose 40 credits out of the optional modules below:

  • Philosophical Project (20)
  • Minds, Brains and Computers (20)
  • Topics in Philosophy of Religion (20)
  • Global Bioethics (20)
  • Prejudice, Race and Gender (20)
  • Being Good and Doing Right (20)
  • Nietzsche (20)
  • Philosophy of Language (20)
  • Reason and Belief: Topics in Epistemology (20)
  • What There Is: Issues in Ontology (20)
  • Science and Nature (20)
  • Philosophy of Time Travel (20)

Philosophy final year detailed module descriptions

Mathematics: As you will have gained a thorough grounding in many aspects of Mathematics during Years 1 and 2, you will be able to choose from an incredibly wide range of final year modules. Modules may include topics such as 'Research Skills in Mathematics', 'Mathematical Finance', 'Differential Equations' and 'Computability and Logic'.

Joint Honours Philosophy with a year abroad

Subject to satisfactory performance over your first two years, you may have the option of spending your third year studying at an overseas university. You will then come back to Birmingham for your fourth and final year. 

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2016/17 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £9,000
  • Overseas: £13,860

Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

For further information on tuition fees, living costs and available financial support, please see our pages on undergraduate fees and funding.

Tuition fees when studying abroad

For those spending a whole academic year abroad (where available):

  • Students who are classed as home/EU for fees purposes are required to pay 15% of their normal annual tuition fee; for 2016/17 this will be £1,350
  • Students who are classed as overseas for fee purposes are required to pay 50% of their normal annual tuition fee; for 2016/17 this will be £6,930

For those studying abroad for just one semester (where available), normal annual tuition fees apply.

Note - Study abroad opportunities vary between courses; please see the course description for details of study abroad options offered.

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required:
3
Typical offer:
AAB
Required subjects and grades:
A level Maths grade A.

Additional information:

BTEC Extended Diploma, Diploma and Subsidiary Diploma are all considered on a case by case basis.

Please be aware that you will need to meet the subject specific requirements for both subject areas within the degree programme - please check their Single Honours coursefinder entries for more information. If you need further guidance please contact us.

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements.

International students:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 6,6,5 in Higher level subjects plus 32 points overall.

We welcome applications from international students and invite you to join our vibrant community of over 4500 international students who represent 150 different countries. We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.

How to apply

Key Information Set (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.

The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.

University of Birmingham students are part of an academic elite and learn from world-leading experts. We will challenge you to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers.

You will have a diverse learning experience, including:

  • lectures
  • small group tutorials
  • independent study
  • and peer group learning, such as delivering presentations with your classmates

Support

You will have access to a comprehensive support system to help you make the transition to Higher Education.

  • Personal tutors - You will be assigned your own personal tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies. They will provide academic support and advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.
  • Welfare tutors - We have dedicated welfare tutors who provide professional support, advice and guidance to students across a range of issues. They can meet with you to discuss extensions, disabilities, reasonable adjustments, extenuating circumstances, or talk through any problems you might be experiencing, and help you access wider support on campus and beyond.
  • Academic Skills Centre - The centre aims to help you become a more effective and independent learner through a range of high-quality support services. The centre offers workshops on a range of topics, such as note-taking, reading, academic writing and presentation skills.
  • Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) - the AWAS team will provide guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level. You will receive individual support from an academic writing advisor and meet with postgraduate tutors who specialise in particular subjects. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, tutorials and email correspondence.
  • Student experience - Our Student Experience Team will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They will offer research opportunities, study skills support and help you prepare for your post-university careers. They will also organise social events, such as field trips, to help you meet fellow students from your course.

During your first year it is important that you have a smooth transition into university. You will be able to talk to your tutors about this and discuss if there are particular areas where you need support.

Teaching staff

Students at the University of Birmingham are taught by a mixture of professors, senior lecturers, lecturers and doctoral researchers, thereby receiving a rich diversity of academic knowledge and experience. Many of our teaching staff have published important works about their areas of expertise, whilst others have taught at international institutions and can offer unique perspectives of their subjects.

You can find out more about the members of staff (including their qualifications, publication history and specific areas of interest) in their academic profiles linked below.

Interactive classes are offered in modules which don't feature separate seminars. Here, lecturing time and discussion time are part of the same session and the structure of the classes can be very flexible.

Contact hours

On the Philosophy side of your degree, you can expect approximately 4 contact hours each week throughout the course of your programme. Contact hours will vary across the years of the programme depending on the optional modules you take and as independent study becomes more of a focus.

Contact hours will be a combination of lectures and seminars and the independent research that you conduct in your final year will be supported by 1 to 1 supervision meetings with a lecturer.

Assessment methods

Assessments - you will be assessed in a variety of ways to help you transition to a new style of learning. At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed. Assessments methods will vary with each module and could include:

  • coursework, such as essays
  • group and individual presentations
  • and formal exams

Feedback - you will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so you can learn from each assignment. You will also be given feedback on any exams that you take. If you should fail an exam, we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is provided to help you prepare for future exams.

Each module is assessed independently by exams, essays or other forms of written assignment. Some modules are completely assessed by coursework. Most first-year modules are assessed by both an essay written during the year and an exam at the end of the year, with each given equal weight. The assessment for second- and third-year modules also varies. Many modules are assessed by two essays, while some are assessed by an essay and an exam.

Philosophy and Maths graduates have a range of knowledge and skills that are highly prized by graduate employers, such as:

  • Understanding complex information
  • Writing clearly and effectively
  • Building a case to critically assess a particular point of view
  • Respecting the views of others even if they disagree with you
  • Analytic thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Report writing
  • Generally thinking for yourself
  • Critical thinking skills, alongside the ability to research, analyse and interpret the information that you have gathered
  • Handling complex information, including complex statistics
  • The ability to form concise and articulate arguments
  • Managing your time effectively and prioritising your workload

93% of our Philosophy and 87% of our Mathematics graduates enter work, or full time study, within six months of graduation according to the latest Unistats figures.

Our graduates go on to pursue highly successful careers in professions such as Law, Journalism, Teaching, Management consultancy, Local and Central government, Publishing and Marketing. They have even gone on to be comedians, MPs, writers, Chief Rabbi and Blue Peter presenters. Example employers include:

  • AstraZeneca
  • Central London Youth Development
  • Step on Stage Academy
  • Thames Valley Police
  • Town Hall & Symphony Hall Birmingham
  • CMT Learning
  • Brightedge
  • Barclays Aero Engine Controls
  • BAE Systems Detica
  • Ernst and Young
  • KPMG
  • Lloyds Banking Group
  • N Power
  • PWC
  • Qinetiq
  • Santander
  • Towers Watson

Some graduates choose to progress to further study, not just in Maths or Philosophy but in Politics, International Development, Sociology and other areas. Examples of further studies programmes include:

  • MA Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Science
  • MA Global Ethics
  • MA Philosophy
  • MA International Security & Development
  • PGCE/PGDipEd (QTS) Secondary Education
  • Graduate Diploma in Law
  • Chartered Financial Analyst
  • Cima - Management Accounting
  • MA International Liaison and Communication
  • MRes Statistics and Operational Research
  • MSc Actuarial Science
  • MSc Medical Statistics
  • PGCE Secondary Mathematics
  • PGDipEd Secondary Education Mathematics
  • PhD Applied Mathematics
  • PhD Pure Mathematics

Developing your career

Employers target University of Birmingham students for their diverse skill-set and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of our wide range of opportunities you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

  • Careers events - we hold events covering careers in teaching, event management, marketing and working with charities to help you meet potential employers and learn more about these sectors.
  • Global Challenge - you can apply to work overseas on an expenses-paid placement during your summer vacation through our Global Challenge initiative.
  • Work experience bursary - we encourage you to apply your skills in the workplace by undertaking internships in the summer. Our work experience bursaries allow you to apply for funding to support you during unpaid internships.
  • Cultural Internships - our innovative Cultural Internships offer graduates the opportunity for a six month paid internship at a leading cultural institution in the West Midlands. These internships will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market. Our current partners include Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham REP, Birmingham Royal Ballet, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust, Library of Birmingham.

There are also internships available at our own cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you will need to think about engaging in some extra-curricular activities to broaden your skills and network of contacts.

  • Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme - our College of Arts and Law Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme enables interested students to work on a current academic research project being run by one of our academic researchers. Undergraduate research scholars gain work experience over the summer after their first or second year and have the chance to develop skills in both collaborative and independent research.
  • Personal Skills Award - our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.
  • Guild of Students - there is a vast number of student groups and volunteering opportunities offered by the Guild of Students, which cover a wide variety of interests.

Birmingham has transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Clubs and societies

The Guild has over 200 Societies, community volunteering groups and associations for you to join; they cover every topic and activity that you can think of - there really is something for everyone.

Student Experience Officers

Our Student Experience Officers will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They will offer research opportunities, study skills support and help you prepare for your post-university careers. They will also organise social events, such as field trips, to help you meet fellow students from your course.

Accommodation

Coming to Birmingham might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and culture, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work.

Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.

International students

The University of Birmingham has been welcoming international students onto our campus since 1900.

We have one of the largest and most vibrant international student communities in the UK, with 5,000 international students from more than 150 different countries and 31% of our academic staff from overseas.

If you would like further information about entry requirements, how to apply and funding options, then you can visit our international students webpage. You may also wish to take a virtual tour of our campus and watch the video below to hear our international students say their favourite thing about the University of Birmingham.