Mathematics at Cambridge enjoys a reputation as a rigorous and intellectually demanding course.

The approach to Mathematics here is very different from that in schools. There is a much greater emphasis on the logical development of general theories and abstract concepts. However, it is also applied to the physical world, for example in the study of fluid mechanics and quantum mechanics, and to statistics.

In recent years, Downing undergraduates have acquitted themselves with distinction in the Mathematical Tripos. Several have gone on to undertake higher degrees, leading to research careers in industry and academic institutions.

Our graduates are much sought after by employers in a wide range of satisfying and rewarding jobs. The College is involved in an intercollegiate mathematical society which holds meetings several times each term.

The majority of those admitted to read Mathematics do so for three years, but there is also the option of studying Mathematics with Physics in the first year which enables the choice between Mathematics and Physics to be kept open.

Applicants should note that students wishing to continue to a fourth year studying Part III mathematics will normally be expected to have obtained a first in Part II or have first class potential.

The Director of Studies for Mathematics is Dr Sophia Demoulini, who specialises in Pure Mathematics.

Entry requirements and interviews

The standard conditional offer for candidates in Mathematics at Downing is A*A*A at A2 level, in scientific or mathematical subjects plus appropriate grades in Sixth Term Examination Papers (STEP). More info on STEP papers can be found on their website.

At Downing we expect all our applicants to be studying, or have studied, Mathematics and Further Mathematics at A2 level. We would also expect their third subject to be a scientific subject, with a preference for Physics. For IB applicants, our entry requirements are Higher Level Mathematics, Higher Level Physics and a third scientific subject at Higher Level.  

If more than three scientific or mathematical subjects are being taken at A2 level, the A*A*A grades will have to include Mathematics and Further Mathematics in order to satisfy the conditions of the offer. There is also a further requirement for specified grades to be achieved in STEP Mathematics papers.

At present, Mathematics applicants receive two 20-30 minute interviews on the same day, each with one or two interviewers. Before the interviews the students will be given 30 minutes to work on written questions. The questions will cover a variety of subjects at A-Level (or equivalent) Mathematics in order to give the candidates an opportunity to think about typical interview topics beforehand. Sample questions are available here.

Further advice about entry requirements and interviews for all subjects can be found in the Applying to Downing section of this site.

Introductory reading for students

The reading list on the Faculty website is given as a guide to help applicants gain a better understanding of the subject matter. They are not intended as preparatory reading and interviewers will not expect candidates necessarily to have read any of these titles.

Further details about the Mathematics course can be found at the University of Cambridge site.