School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics

BSc (Hons) Mathematics with Foundation Year

Do you have a passion to study mathematics, but lack the normal entry requirements for one of our honours degrees? Perhaps you've shown evidence of good academic potential, but don’t have sufficient qualifications or have been out of formal education for a while. This four year degree route incorporates a foundation year, which will develop your skills in applied mathematics, statistics and some computer programming.

We’re very proud of being top in the Guardian Mathematics University League Table for 2019 for satisfaction with the course. We are also fourth for satisfaction with mathematics teaching. This is part of a record of students regularly saying that they enjoy our degrees and teaching.

Many objects in nature, from blood vessels in your body to flowers and vegetables, take on a fractal structure. These mathematical structures are investigated in your degree.

Key features

  • Gain a solid background equivalent to A level Mathematics plus part of Further Mathematics and an introduction to computer programming.
  • You are taught on campus by University lecturers: you are a member of the University community from the start.
  • Our academics are experts and will help you hone your skills so you are able to start on the first year of one of our degree courses with confidence.
  • Our students say our teaching is outstanding: 99% agreed in the 2018 National Student Survey that our lecturers are good at explaining mathematics.*
  • A highlight of your course is an independent investigation of a mathematical topic of your choice. You will present your research to a small peer group using written and oral presentations.
  • We support you to reach your full potential: we have an open door policy to help our students and use various technologies including podcasts to help you master mathematics.
  • An average mark of at least 50% in your foundation year entitles you to progress to the first year of any of our range of mathematics degrees. Please see below for your progression opportunities.
  • Leading research experts teach you: 68% of our research papers were classified as ‘World Leading’ or ‘Internationally Excellent’ in the UK 2014 Research Excellence Framework.
  • Join our peer-assisted learning classes (PALS) every week, where second and third-year students help you to master new concepts and techniques.
  • Visit SUM:UP, a drop-in centre, providing you with support to resolve any mathematics and statistics related problems. The resources are open in the library 24/7 and it is staffed from 10am-4pm Monday to Friday during term time. 
  • You have easy access to help and feedback at the Maths Lab, located close to staff offices. With walls covered in boards for problem-solving plus a projector system for practising presentations, the Maths Lab is an ideal environment for students to support one another's learning.
  • The foundation year is an integral part of the extended degree. Completion of the foundation year will not lead to a separate award or qualification in its own right but will provide access to Year 1 of any of our mathematics degrees.

Course details

  • Foundation year
  • During the one year foundation course, you’ll take five mathematics modules and one on computer programming. As well as fundamental methods, such as trigonometry and calculus, you will study mechanics (which will introduce you to vectors) and statistics (using professional software). The course will improve your understanding of fundamental results, mastery of methods of proof and appreciation of mathematical writing. At the end of the year, you can transfer to any of our mathematics degrees provided you obtain an average mark of 50 per cent or above.

    Core modules
    • MATH050 Investigations in Mathematics

      Students in this module study a range of topics relevant to degree level study in mathematics and statistics and investigate a mathematical topic of their choice. Over the course of the module, students obtain experience in both written and oral presentation of their work. The topics studied are based upon vectors and matrices, but may vary from year to year.

    • MATH055 Mathematics I

      This module is intended to provide a solid basis in advanced mathematics. Assuming a base of GSCE mathematics, the lectures move quickly to establish a solid appreciation of algebra, trigonometry, scientific functions and calculus. Topics studied will be: scientific notation; solving linear, quadratic and simultaneous equations; trigonometry; functions and their notation, including inverse and composite functions; and calculus.

    • MATH056 Mathematics II

      This module builds on MATH055 to establish a solid basis in calculus, complex numbers, differential equations and numerical methods. Topics studied build upon those from MATH055 including the product and chain rules of differentiation and integration by parts and substitution.

    • MATH057 Data Mining and Algorithms

      This module provides the basic skills required to discover patterns in data. Students will learn how to solve problems by analysing data. The course provides essential tools, techniques and algorithms for finding and describing structural patterns. Students will learn to extract useful information from the raw data and communicate their conclusions through analysis of examples. Topics studied will be: summary statistics; random behaviour; probability distributions; inference, optimisation and modelling.

    • MATH058 Applied Mathematics

      This module provides an introduction to applied mathematics. The focus of the module is on the use of mechanics to solve basic problems of an engineering and scientific nature in the real world. Topics studied are: modelling; forces; vectors; kinematics in one and two dimensions; Newton's laws; moments and energy.

    • SOFT051 Computer Programming

      This module introduces students to fundamental computer programming concepts, which allow information to be stored, processed and presented. It includes fundamental aspects of web-application development, persistent data storage, user-interface design, and the use of an integrated development environment. As mathematical computation is becoming increasingly sophisticated, it is important that mathematicians can effectively deal with computer programming.

Every undergraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the course aims, the course structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest course structure and may be subject to change:

BSc Mathematics with Foundation Year programme specification 6114

The modules shown for this course are those currently being studied by our students, or are proposed new modules. Please note that programme structures and individual modules are subject to amendment from time to time as part of the University’s curriculum enrichment programme and in line with changes in the University’s policies and requirements.

Entry requirements

UCAS tariff

32 - 48

A level: a minimum of 2 A levels. Excluding general studies.

18 Unit BTEC National Diploma/QCF Extended Diploma: PPP
12 Unit BTEC National Certificate/QCF Diploma: MP

BTEC National Diploma modules
If you hold a BTEC qualification it is vital that you provide our Admissions team with details of the exact modules you have studied as part of the BTEC. This information enables us to process your application quickly and avoid delays in the progress of your application to study with us. Please explicitly state the full list of modules within your qualification at the time of application.

Access: pass Access course (preferably from a science/technology subject) (including GCSE English and mathematics grade C/4 or above or equivalent). For candidates that do not have a science, electrical or technology background please contact: for further advice.

International Baccalaureate: 24 overall to include 1 subject from science or technology. English and mathematics must be included.

GCSE: mathematics and English at grade C/4 or above.

Mature students with appropriate work experience are encouraged to apply. An informal discussion with an academic may aid the decision process and help you better prepare for the course. Other qualifications will be considered individually.

Students may also apply directly to BSc (Hons) Mathematics or any of our other mathematics degrees listed below on this page and they will be made an alternative offer of the foundation year if appropriate. All students offered a place on the foundation year will be offered the opportunity of taking a diagnostic test to see if it is appropriate to allow them to enter the first year directly.

For a full list of all acceptable qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

New Student 2018 2019
Home/EU £9,250 £9,250
International £13,000 £13,400
Part time (Home/EU) To be confirmed To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances.

How to apply

All applications for undergraduate courses are made through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). 

UCAS will ask for the information contained in the box at the top of this course page including the UCAS course code and the institution code. 

To apply for this course and for more information about submitting an application including application deadline dates, please visit the UCAS website.

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email

Your foundation year

As part of a four-year degree, our foundation year in mathematics will enable you to gain a solid background equivalent to A level Mathematics plus part of Further Mathematics and an introduction to computer programming. 

You will be taught on campus by university lecturers and so you will be a member of the University community right from the start. My colleagues are experts who will help you hone your skills so you are able to start on the first year of one of our degree courses with confidence. 

The foundation year places an emphasis on developing understanding and logical thought - we explain not only how a mathematical technique works but also why it is true. All this helps our students reach their full potential.

Dr Matthew Craven

Programme Manager for the mathematics foundation year

Studying mathematics with foundation year

We’re very proud of being top in the Guardian Mathematics University League Table for 2019 for satisfaction with the course. We are also fourth for satisfaction with mathematics teaching. This is part of a record of students regularly saying that they enjoy our degrees and teaching.

Find out more about the support available to you

Opportunity to enter the first year immediately

By the end of induction week, all students accepted on to the foundation year will have had the opportunity to sit a diagnostic test. Students who meet the required standard will be allowed to immediately start their studies in the first year rather than the foundation year.

Sean McFadden - current student

The lecturers at the University have a passion for the subject matter. During my time at University of Plymouth I have discovered a real love of mathematics and developed a desire to learn.
Find out more about Sean McFadden

Sharon Alfred - graduate profile

I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do for a career when I started my studies but as the years went along I was able to discern my strengths and weaknesses. These helped me in making my decision to go on to study a masters degree.
Find out more about Sharon Alfred

For anyone considering a Foundation year, my advice would be absolutely do it. I cannot recommend it enough. No matter how you have arrived at this point, whether you’ve been out of education for a while or, like I had, have just finished/ are finishing A-levels, completing a foundation year will only benefit you.

For me, like many others, the year gave a clear insight into what is expected of you as a student at university. The year begins with bringing everyone up-to-speed with their basic mathematical knowledge and proceeds to introduce, for many, new material. I found that this set me up perfectly for the first-year modules and gave me a firm basis to progress confidently into my first year of the Mathematics degree.

Mathematics at university is quite different to maths at school. It doesn’t only consist of solving problems with a pen and paper, we also use computer programs to find solutions and visualise our problems. Along with others, I had never encountered a mathematical computer program and the concept of programming was difficult to grasp. However, the foundation year gives students an opportunity to see and use these programs, which I feel gave me an advantage and ‘head-start’ when we later met programming again after I had progressed into the Mathematics degree.

This is just one of many examples of how the foundation year helped me and could help you too.

Jess Card, BSc (Hons) Mathematics

Studying mathematics at Plymouth

Professor David McMullan, Associate Head of School, and final year student Dan Hodges discuss what it’s like to study here, and show you some of our facilities.

Work placements

A ‘placement year’ is an excellent way to gain a competitive edge. It will set you up for when the graduate schemes launch and help you make better career decisions.

Elizabeth Goult gained important skills and career-defining experiences working for Plymouth Marine Laboratory as a student programmer.

Read more about Elizabeth's journey, and how you can launch your own career

Meet some of your lecturers

* These are the latest results from the National Student Survey. Please note that the data published on Unistats is updated annually in September.