Mathematics at Balliol College
If you are a prospective applicant joining us for one of the Open Days, do ask Dr Vicky Neale any questions you have about Maths at Balliol 11.30-12.00. You can also watch a short video that she has recorded for you, by visiting our open day page on the University website.
The Mathematical sciences form one of the largest subject groups at Balliol, and have been studied ever since the foundation of the College in 1263. Mathematical discoveries made by former students of Balliol include the famous approximation to n! found by James Stirling, the discovery of fractals by Henry J.S. Smith, and the exact solutions of Einstein’s field equations developed by Geoffrey Walker. Many Presidents of the London Mathematical Society studied at Balliol, and Professor Frances Kirwan FRS, who was a Tutor at Balliol until her appointment as Savilian Professor of Geometry in 2018, was President 2003-2005.
There is a flourishing Mathematics society (BUMS: Balliol Undergraduate Maths Society), which helps introduce new Mathematics students to the College and also organises an annual dinner with a guest mathematical speaker. There is a large community of mathematicians at Balliol, including our undergraduates, many Masters and DPhil students, the Tutors (listed below), and Research Fellows.
The first year of the Mathematics course is designed to give a good foundation in a range of topics in pure and applied Mathematics, some of which will be extensions of your work at school/college while the others will be new. There are some compulsory core courses in the second year, but students also have the opportunity to start specialising. In the third year there is a wide range of options from which to choose, and this continues in the optional fourth year, when students will also work on an individual dissertation. Some students choose to specialise in a particular branch of mathematics and its applications, others prefer to study a variety of topics. Some students choose to transfer to the fourth-year Mathematics and Physics course for a different selection of options.
Read more about the teaching at Balliol in each of the three/four years of the course here.
‘My time studying maths at Balliol has seen some of my most enjoyable and proudest moments. The tutors here are incredible at their jobs: they push you to be a much better mathematician and they have always been available to me when I’ve found some parts harder than others. We also have a real community of mathematicians, boasting our own maths society (and jumpers!), which organises social events - a recent one was a trip to the ice rink. I am so happy I applied to Balliol and I would definitely encourage any budding mathematicians to do the same.’ - Jamie Barnes (Balliol 2017)
Book loan scheme
Mathematics students at Balliol rarely need to buy any course books, thanks to the Balliol Maths Book Loan scheme. We have numerous copies of all the main course books (for all years of the course, not just the first year), so we can lend each student the books they will need, for the whole year in which they need it. In addition, the College Library has further mathematical books for students to borrow if they wish.
Our students come from a diverse range of backgrounds from across the UK and beyond (recent and current students come from all parts of the UK and as far afield as Australia, the Netherlands, Romania, South Korea and the USA), and from all sorts of schools. The Mathematics tutors welcome applications from all interested students, and would encourage any prospective applicant to contact our Admissions Office if you have a question not answered on this or the University’s website: email@example.com.
A significant number of Balliol mathematicians choose to stay for a fourth year of study in Balliol. Some choose to take the fourth year of the course (leading to an MMath), some choose to study a Masters course such as the MSc in Mathematics and Foundations of Computer Science, and some train to be a school teacher by doing a PGCE. The College also has a significant number of Mathematics graduate students at any one time, studying for an MSc or DPhil (doctorate). Other Balliol maths graduates have gone on to careers in many different fields, ranging from finance, accountancy, management and IT, through to being a barrister, a civil servant, working in publishing, and combining juggling with maths in shows for schoolchildren.
About the course
Course requirements and selection criteria
- the University’s entrance requirements
- the Mathematical Institute’s selection criteria; you may also find this guidance on interviews helpful