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Programme Specification: Part IA Mathematics

This course is taught by the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics with input from other Physical Science Departments.

There are two versions of the course, A and B. Course A provides a thorough grounding in methods of mathematical science and contains everything prerequisite for the mathematical content of all physical-science courses in Part IB of the Natural Sciences Tripos, including specifically Mathematics, Physics and Advanced Physics.

Course B contains additional material for those students who find mathematics rewarding in its own right, and it proceeds at a significantly faster pace. Students are strongly encouraged to take Course A unless they have a thorough understanding of material in Further Mathematics A Level. As a guide, such students might be expected to have scored at least 95% in at least two (preferably three) FP modules. Both courses lead to the same examination and qualification.


  1. to provide a course on elementary mathematical techniques that are used in the physical sciences courses of the Natural Sciences Tripos;
  2. to prepare students for more advanced mathematical courses in the Natural Sciences Tripos;
  3. to develop mathematical skills and methods appropriate for students in the physical sciences. A detailed syllabus is determined by a committee which has input from the physical science subjects in the Natural Sciences Tripos.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students should:

  1. have a knowledge and understanding of a range of elementary mathematical techniques;
  2. be able to solve mathematical problems based on the course material;

Teaching and Learning Methods

These include lectures, supervisions, and occasional examples classes.


Assessment for this course is through:

  • two unseen written papers each of three hours (for aims 1-3 and learning outcomes 1-2).

Courses of Preparation

Essential: A Level Mathematics.

Recommended: A Level Further Mathematics.

Additional Information

Further information on each subject is available in the Subject summary and on the Course Websites pages.