Mathematics is the science of patterns: numerical patterns, patterns of shape, patterns of motion, patterns of behaviour, and so on. Since patterns are found in all areas of life, so is mathematics. Maths specialisations can be broadly categorised into:
Mathematics underpins all corners of science and technology. Mathematical skills are flexible and can be applied to almost any industry. With the evolution of computing, many areas have been opened up to mathematical advances, such as finance, biology, weather simulation, medical diagnosis and image processing. These developments have created many new kinds of job opportunities. Mathematical skill has kept pace with the advances in hardware and software, so mathematics graduates are highly sought after to give companies a competitive advantage.
Mathematicians are trained to think logically and to approach problems in analytical and creative ways. Studying mathematics and statistics prepares you for a wide variety of careers because it provides you with the problem-solving, computing and communication skills that employers want. You'll be sought after in areas as diverse as banking and finance, environmental modelling, computing, information technology, government, education or research.
We're ranked 48th in the world for mathematics.* Our School of Mathematics and Statistics is a leading centre for mathematical research at both the national and international level. As the largest School of Mathematics and Statistics in Australia, we have expertise across wide areas of applied mathematics, pure mathematics and statistics, including financial mathematics, biomathematics and environmental statistics.
Our specialised mathematics degree will allow you to major in pure mathematics, applied mathematics or advanced statistics:
You can also study mathematics as a major in the following undergraduate degrees:
Compared to maths in high school, university mathematics is more directed towards definite problems, both real-world and abstract ones. It also uses computers with the latest mathematical software to extend the range of solvable problems well beyond what is possible with calculators or pencil and paper.
Choosing your mathematics major
Students at UNSW can take courses in applied mathematics, pure mathematics and statistics. If you're not sure which one you'd prefer, don't worry - the first year requirements for all three are the same. In your first year you'll study core mathematical topics such as calculus, linear algebra and discrete mathematics. You may choose your elective courses from several other schools so that you can follow or cultivate other interests. You can easily change your study plan or major at the end of your first year, by which time you should be in a better position make an informed choice.
If you're interested in honing your logical and analytical skills while learning about the latest developments in new mathematics, pure mathematics is the right choice for you. You'll have the opportunity to sharpen your mathematical skills in a particular area, with specialist courses in:
We also offer a program which allows prospective high school teachers to gain the background necessary to teach mathematics to HSC Extension 2 level.
If you're interested in using mathematics to understand real world phenomena, then applied mathematics is the right choice for you. You'll have the opportunity to sharpen your mathematical skills in a particular area such as:
These areas are all concerned with the construction, analysis and interpretation of mathematical models that describe the ocean, the atmosphere, the futures market, cell growth, DNA replication or how to maximise returns.
Gain research experience and enhance your career prospects with an honours degree. These programs are designed to connect your undergraduate study with supervised independent research. An honours degree also provides a pathway into further study, such as a Masters by Research or PhD. You can take honours as a standalone degree or as part of an embedded honours program.
Embedded honours programs
Standalone honours program
You can study mathematics in the following postgraduate coursework programs:
*QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023