The Cambridge Mathematical Tripos is one of the most challenging and stimulating mathematics courses in the country.

Dr Stuart Martin - Fellow & Director of Studies, Senior Tutor, Admissions Tutor and Affiliated Lecturer in the Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics.

Email: Dr Stuart Martin

Currently we have 26 students, of whom 12 are undergraduates and 14 are reading for graduate qualifications.

The average number of direct applicants is about 24 per year, and the average number of places is 6 per year across both options.

The Cambridge Mathematical Tripos is one of the most challenging and stimulating mathematics courses in the country. Nevertheless, since in the whole university there are almost 250 starting the Tripos each year, not everyone on the course is a genius (although some certainly are), and if you are enjoying your A-Level (or equivalent) Mathematics courses, and are good at them, the Tripos may well be for you.

If you are admitted to read the straight mathematics course, in the first two years you will study a wide range of topics with some choice about what you study and when you study it. The third year develops a student's mathematical ability to a very high level and there is a very wide choice of topics across the spectrum of pure and applied mathematics in which to specialise. A few very strong students with a research career in mind will stay on for a fourth year after their B.A. - this is a taught Masters course called the M.Math. The M.Math. offers the same very large range of courses in pure and applied mathematics, as well as some computing, applicable statistics and mathematical physics subjects.

In the first year you may choose to do either the course in Pure and Applied Mathematics or the course in Mathematics with Physics (if you are undecided about switching to Physical Natural Sciences after one year). You should read the Cambridge Admissions Prospectus for brief details of the structure of the course, and also the departmental page for detailed course information.

Dr Stuart Martin (the Director of Studies) studied in Oxford and has research interests in algebra, logic and financial mathematics. The College boasts two College Lecturers, one for pure and one for the applied teaching. Dr Gareth Taylor (an algebraist) takes a lot of the pure supervisions and Ms Kerry Maunder supervises mostly applied courses: both are Cambridge mathematics graduates. Dr Charles Vial is a postdoctoral Fellow in pure mathematics and also teaches some pure options in the third year. The College has a number students reading for higher degrees in mathematics and for postgraduate qualifications in computing and statistics, some of whom are involved in teaching. Lectures for mathematicians are mostly held at the Centre for Mathematical Sciences, at a site in west Cambridge (about ten minutes' walk from the College).

The College Library has an excellent mathematical section, including all books on the Faculty reading lists. The special demands of the Tripos also require supportive teaching from the College. For example, in the first two terms you attend two lectures per day, and we lay on two supervisions a week, almost always in groups of one or two. At least one of these supervisions will normally be given by either of the two College Lecturers at Magdalene, and the other by external supervisors at other colleges; this ensures that you obtain the best supervision available in all subjects. In addition to this, you will have regular meetings with your Tutor (a non-mathematician) and Director of Studies, to assess your progress and to plan future work.

Please note that for applicants applying for Mathematics from autumn 2018 onwards, all Cambridge colleges, including Magdalene, will be asking for full A-levels in both Mathematics and Further Mathematics. This is important to consider if you are starting A-levels in 2017. As a result, the STEP syllabus will change and Magdalene will be asking all applicants to sit STEP II and STEP III. We will, as before, take full account of cases in which applicants have had to self-teach elements of Further Mathematics A-level, or STEP. For candidates taking the IB, we would require IB Higher Level Mathematics.

A-level Physics is also desirable, especially for those planning on studying the Mathematics with Physics option.

Having satisfied ourselves of your suitability for admission, we shall normally make offers based on A-Level grades (or equivalent) and the usual offer will be A*A*A (with A* in both Mathematics A-levels), plus one other discipline (usually Physics). It will be normal to ask you to take STEP papers II and III (two 1's is the usual offer here, but each offer is tailored to take into account a candidate's individual circumstances).

If you are doing Scottish Advanced Highers, offers will usually ask for AAA in three mathematics papers. We also have a strong tradition of admitting students from overseas, especially from South East and East Asia and will be happy to make an offer based on the International Baccalaureate (IB) or some other recognised international examination, including the Cambridge Pre-U. The IB offer is normally 42 points or higher, with 7, 7, 7 in three mathematical subjects preferably at Higher Level. If available we would also like you take Standard Level Further Mathematics. Students from countries in the EU as well as others from America, India, Pakistan and Africa are invited for interview in Cambridge or, occasionally, in their home country. Dr Martin interviews in S.E. Asia in late October and then again in Hong Kong in December each year. If a candidate is unable to attend interview, he or she will still be required to sit a written test at their school or college under examination conditions.

If you want to defer entry for a year, we may exceptionally agree to this provided you have sensible and relevant plans for your year off. Advice in detail about what you should read before coming up is sent out well in advance. In this case, unless you were pursuing an academic course involving mathematics, it would be normal to invite you to take STEP in the summer before you would be due to come to Cambridge. We should point out however that mathematics students almost always come to Cambridge directly from school, and this is certainly the route strongly preferred. Male candidates required to undertake National Service for their country are advised to apply in the middle of their Service as we will not make offers deferred more than one year.

Mature students are admitted from time to time. If you wish to be considered as a mature applicant for Mathematics you should be engaged on or have recently completed a course such as A-Level, O.U. or an Access course. If you are in any doubt about your preparation for a university course, or your choice of college, you are advised to contact us to discuss your individual circumstances before making your application.

We encourage applicants from all types of school. Although the information about offers given above indicates a typical requirement, each candidate is looked at in the light of his or her individual circumstances.

Students obtaining Firsts in any part of the Tripos are admitted as Scholars of the College and are awarded a prize. Those who become Wranglers (obtaining Firsts in Part II) are given prizes named after certain benefactors.

At the interview stage we are looking for people with a real interest in, and enthusiasm for, mathematics. In consequence, our selection procedure, and any subsequent offer, will always vary to suit the individual needs of every applicant.

Cambridge interviews in mathematics usually take place in mid-December. Of course if I fall ill or you fall ill, or if there are problems with rooms, flu pandemics or inclement weather, we might have to change dates. We interview most home/EU candidates, and the time we interview you depends on administrative convenience and nothing else. We also interview most overseas candidates who are available in the UK during the interview period and certain South East and East Asian candidates at other times of the year in the region (see below).

Candidates being assessed at Magdalene take a written test of ninety minutes' duration, and then have two thirty-minute interviews. The test, taken by all candidates, is designed to check that you have the basic skills in algebraic manipulation, logical thought and basic calculus. It allows lots of choice of questions and requires no special preparation.

The two interviews will each last for about half-an-hour and will normally be conducted by the Director of Studies (a pure mathematician) alone and two other (applied and applicable) mathematicians. One of the interviews may contain some discussion of your attempts on the written test, and also some other simple problems designed to see how you deal with a piece of mathematics you may not have directly encountered at school.

Since the object of the technical interviews is to see how you think and not to see what you know, you should not expect to find the answers to all our questions at once. We want to see how, with a little help from us, you can find your way from being a little out of your depth towards dry land and understanding. At no stage will you be asked 'trick' questions or persistent questions on material you are unfamiliar with - we are trying to find out the breadth of your knowledge and interest in the subject.

In the (short) non-technical component of one interview you may be asked questions about general topics, sometimes by a non-mathematical Fellow. He or she will check that there are no problems with your application. If you think that there might be problems please write to us as soon as possible in advance.

We realise that all this may appear rather formidable, but I hope you will see our procedures as a genuine attempt to look at you carefully as an individual rather than an UCAS number. All of those who will interview you remember (sometimes only too well) what it is like to be interviewed.

If you are unable to attend interviews in Cambridge, then it may be possible to interview you in certain countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong or China. Click here for the University prospectus for details of the global interview programs. If you cannot attend interview anywhere you will normally be sent the College test and invited to take the test under examination conditions at your school.

Mathematics graduates from the College go into many areas of work. Until very recently, the salaries offered in the financial and banking world ensure many try for investment banking, accountancy and actuarial work. Others go for technical jobs in mathematics or computing, or "general graduate" jobs such as advertising, management consultancy and the Civil Service. Demand for Cambridge mathematics graduates is high and no one in the last few years has been unable to secure rewarding employment.

Others stay on for further study. For those of you excelling in the third year, there will be an option to spend a fourth year in Cambridge studying advanced mathematics. This is known as the M.Math. There are well over a hundred options to choose from, encompassing a whole range of subjects in pure and applied mathematics. An outstanding performance in the M.Math. would gain you admission to the Cambridge PhD program, as well as provide you with a firm basis for research degrees in other comparable universities.

In addition, the Cambridge-sponsored Millennium Mathematics Project runs an excellent website featuring a free online maths magazine including articles of mathematical interest from cosmology to chaos theory. The Mathematics Faculty website also contains a lot of useful information.

SM, July 2015

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