Maths tutorial at Balliol (photo: Stuart Bebb)
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Mathematics and Computer Science

Mathematics and Computer Science at Balliol College

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. You can read about mathematical discoveries made by former students and about the Maths teaching at Balliol here.

With three Fellows, undergraduate study in Computer Science is well supported here too. All first-year and second-year core computing courses are taught in College, as are most other subjects in the first two years of this Joint School.

The College Library is richly stocked with study resources in Mathematics and Computing subjects. In addition, 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. 

Computing teaching and computing students are well integrated into the broader Mathematics community within Balliol. There is a flourishing Mathematics society (BUMS: Balliol Undergraduate Maths Society), which helps introduce new Mathematics students to the College and organises an annual dinner with a guest speaker.

Number of places at Balliol: Altogether around 6 students are typically admitted each year in Mathematics & Computer Science, Computer Science, and Computer Science & Philosophy.

Student experience

When I was applying, I was worried that I might feel a little bit out of place in both departments. At Balliol, this is certainly not the case. Everyone is very friendly and welcoming. What’s more, most of the in-college social events for the departments are run jointly for mathematicians and computer scientists anyway. The tutors at Balliol are incredibly helpful — the subjects are both challenging, but the tutors do an excellent job of highlighting important material and explaining it a way that makes it easier to understand. In my opinion, the subject choice gives you the best of both worlds. On the maths side, you get to do all of the pure maths modules and only miss out on the applied maths modules. On the computing side, you do the theoretical and programming modules and don’t do the more practical modules. In later years, you get more choice in the modules you do, so when you find out which you’re more interested in, you can choose to focus on it.’ — Matthew Hillman (Balliol 2016)


About the course

Mathematics and Computer Science is a three-year course with an optional fourth year (for those who meet the progression threshold) in which the two components are highly complementary. Students will gain a deeper understanding of theoretical basis of computation through their study of mathematics as well as a context for the practical application of this theory. The Computer Science course involves practical coding but initially focuses on deep theoretical structures underpinning computation. In the fourth year students will undertake research projects with a wide choice of options within Mathematics, Computer Science and related disciplines.

For more information, please see the Department of Computer Science website, the Mathematical Institute website, and the University’s course pages.

Course requirements and selection criteria

Please see:

How to apply to read Mathematics and Computer Science at Balliol College