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Studying What is the reality of studying maths in the UK?

  1. Jan 6, 2010 #1
    Hi,

    I was wondering if someone could share their experiences of doing an undergrad degree in maths in the UK, and particularly the way the subjects are introduced at the start. (Directions to more info would also be appreciated :))

    I am originally from Germany (but have lived in the UK for few years, and don't' really want to move back!) so I also have the option of doing a degree there.

    I was told that a strong background in secondary school mathematics isn't a necessary prerequisite for taking degree level courses in maths in Germany, as long as one is willing to work hard, because the course is designed to introduce most subjects from scratch. (I am thinking of taking maths as a second subject).

    However, I would also like to know what could I expect from studying maths in the UK?

    Do they presume a strong background in secondary school mathematics or do they also introduce everything from scratch and offer a solid foundation?

    Do the contents of courses vary greatly from institution to institution?

    When I compared the course contents from a German uni and a British one, the German one seemed to offer a better course structure, taking you step by step through the different areas, whilst the British seemed to branch out early into either applied or pure maths.

    Also, is it really realistic for someone with secondary education gaps in maths to even think about taking it on degree level in the UK?


    Thank you
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 6, 2010 #2
    I don't know much about math in the UK, but I have taken several math courses at a German university. If you have any questions, let me know!

    I am not sure what you mean when you say that German universities start math from scratch. While the material starts from scratch, professors (at least at my old university) were assuming that students already had the intuition and computational experience from their high school courses. Professors will not waste time showing you the computations again. The math classes I took were 90% proofs and only 10% example computations.

    German universities usually start a math major with real analysis and (abstract) linear algebra. Linear algebra would have been a nightmare had I never worked with vectors before. I needed the intuition to understand the abstract definitions and theorems. First-semester real analysis just proves all the neat little things you have been using in your high school calculus course all along. Could you write the proofs without a calculus background? Sure, but you would have no idea about the significance of the theorems.

    It is worth pointing out that calculus and linear algebra/vector geometry are required for the Abitur in Germany, so professors can and will assume that students have seen them before.
     
  4. Jan 7, 2010 #3
    At top unis (and most respected institutions) in the UK they require A or A* in Maths and Further Maths A-levels. In some cases they even require the STEP paper which is very difficult.
    This is certainly not an easy requirement and similar to getting a 6-7 in IB Math HL (allthough that course is more rigorous).

    Have a look at some of the websites, as in what courses are being taught. I'd suspect the course structure will be very different between unis (UK and German) while the general material somewhat similar. German universites are of great quality as are UK ones. The choice should come down to where you want to live as long as that location has a decent university.
     
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