Please note that this subject is in the process of being reformed for first teaching in September 2017. The information below reflects what is currently known about the new course. Further details will be available in the Autumn term 2016, when the specification (syllabus) has been finalised and published.
What is the course about?
The course consists of a broad range of topics in Pure Maths, Mechanics and Statistics and gives two A Levels in Mathematics – A Level Mathematics and A Level Further Mathematics.
Pure Maths is the study of mathematical ideas and methods for their own sake and to give a ‘toolkit’ for solving mathematical problems. All Pure Maths is expressed in terms of algebra. Most of the course if Pure Maths but in addition to this you will study Statistics and Mechanics.
Statistics involves learning how to draw conclusions from data. It is very different from Statistics at GCSE and focuses on probability. Mechanics involves using Maths to describe the motion of objects and how they respond to forces acting on them – from cars in the street to satellites revolving round a planet. It includes topics such as energy and collisions.
What will I study in the first year?
In the first year you study Pure Maths with some Mechanics and some Statistics as well.
What will I study in the second year?
In the second year you study more Pure Maths modules and further topics in both Mechanics and Statistics. The course covers all the material for A Level Maths and A Level Further Maths.
How is the course assessed?
The course is assessed through examinations at the end of the second year.
Do you need Further Maths to take Maths at university?
Further Maths is needed only for Maths at a small number of the most competitive universities. It is also more or less necessary for Physics, Engineering and Computer Science (and highly desirable for Chemistry too) at a couple of the most competitive universities. However, outside of this, A Level Maths is sufficient for all Maths based courses, including Maths itself.
What does Further Maths include that is not in ordinary Maths A Level?
The additional topics in Pure Maths include
- Imaginary numbers – How negative numbers can have square roots and what the consequences are. This is the basis of chaos theory and is unexpectedly useful in electrical engineering.
- Maclaurin’s Series – The Maths behind how values of sin, cos and tan are found.
- Linear Algebra – The Maths behind how a computer can solve 102 simultaneous equations in 102 unknowns as easily as you can solve 2 equations in 2 unknowns.
- Second order differential equations – The Maths behind why bridges can wobble dangerously if people walk across them at a critical speed.
The additional topics in Mechanics include
- The Maths behind bungee jumping
- How planets go round the sun
The additional work in Statistics and Probability includes, among other things, looking at the Maths behind how casinos ensure they almost always make a profit (and gamblers almost always make a loss!).
What are the formal entry requirements for this course?
In addition to the general entry criteria that the College requires, you will need to have achieved at least grade 7 in GCSE Maths. Most Further Maths students have achieved mainly A’s and A*s across the board in their GCSEs and the approach and pace reflect this. However, if your Maths is sufficiently strong, taking two A Levels in Maths should be easier than taking two separate A Levels in two separate subjects, because the various parts of the subject reinforce each other.