Mathematics and Joint Schools
BA/MMath Mathematics (and joint schools degrees)
Penrose tiling outside the bar at Wadham College
Average intake at Wadham: 10 (including joint schools)
The College's mathematical community is very lively and is one of the largest in the University. Maths can be combined with Computer Science, Statistics and Philosophy at Wadham.
We will encourage you to ask questions and find solutions for yourself. We will begin by teaching you careful definitions so that you can construct theorems and proofs. Above all, mathematics is a logical subject, and you will need to think mathematically, arguing clearly and concisely as you solve problems. For some of you, this way of thinking or solving problems will be your goal. Others will want to see what else can be discovered. Either way, it is a subject to be enjoyed.
Maths at Wadham College
The Oxford mathematics courses combine university lectures with college tutorials and classes run by the department (the Mathematical Institute).
Tutorials are used particularly in the early years of the course and allow for individual support from experienced mathematicians. Tutors not only help their pupils to make the transition from school mathematics to the deeper exploration of ideas that they meet at degree level, but also provide guidance on the different pathways through the three- and four-year courses at Oxford and on wider matters. In the third (and fourth) year, teaching is centred on the Mathematical Institute, where lectures are given on a huge range of specialist topics in diverse areas of pure and applied mathematics.
Wadham has had numerous students who went on to successful careers in mathematics, such as Sam Howison (formerly chairman of the Mathematical Institute) and Marcus Du Sautoy (the Simonyi Professors for the Public Understanding of Science since 2008, when Richard Dawkins retired from the position). Andrew Hodges, a former tutorial fellow, who taught at Wadham between 1986-2016, authored the best-selling "Alan Turing: The Enigma" and "One to Nine".
Wadham Mathematicians of note
Wadham College has a strong tradition in mathematics. The Royal Society had its genesis in meetings held in Wadham and was instrumental in establishing England's mathematical reputation during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. One of the key protagonists of the time was Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723), a leading mathematician who is also well known today for his architectural work (More).
The mathematical tradition of Wadham was further strengthened by the association with the Rouse Ball Professorship of Mathematics, established in 1929. This has brought to Wadham a very distinguished list of mathematicians: E. A. Milne (1929-1950); C. A. Coulson (1952-1972); Roger Penrose (1973-1999, currently Emeritus fellow at Wadham); and Philip Candelas (1999-current), a renowned theoretical physicist, notable for his contributions in the field of quantum field theory (QFT) especially the renormalisation of QFT near black holes. He has also made influential contributions both in string theory and in mirror symmetry.
Roger Penrose, the former Rouse Ball Professor, is known for his influential work in mathematical physics, in particular for his contributions to general relativity and cosmology. He has received a number of prizes and awards, most recently the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics, but before this was possibly most well known for his 1988 Wolf Prize for physics, which he shared with Stephen Hawking for their contribution to our understanding of the universe.
A Student's Perspective
Ben, 4th Year Mathematician
'Here at Wadham, taking maths is more about understanding than it is about learning formulae, which makes a big (and welcome) change from school. The first year introduces you to a different way of thinking about maths, starting from first principles and building up a complete picture of everything that you would already take for granted, all upon a solid foundation. The tutors here at Wadham push you to explore new challenging aspects of the work that you're doing, but always make sure that your core understanding is there and that you are enjoying the rich and varied maths on offer. They can always show you how everything fits together, even if to do that they just point you in the right direction and help you find and understand what is there yourself - they don't just tell you the answer, they develop you as mathematicians in doing so.
In the second year the course opens up, giving you the option to begin to specialise or stay broad, with topics ranging from the real-world applications of fluid mechanics to the abstract field of graph theory. By the time you reach the third year, every option is chosen by you, and there are a lot of options (around 40 individual courses), so you have the freedom to focus in on those bits of maths that you love. If you stay on for the final year of the MMATH courses, the spectrum of courses opens up to include over 50 subjects, bringing you up to the forefront of mathematical research and modern techniques. All of this goes on in the friendly tight-knit group of maths students at Wadham, where you'll form a strong bond with fellow students from across the years, meaning that you can always get advice on any aspect of your college life or work from people who've done it before. You'll also be part of the wider Wadham community, which provides a great social environment as well as one that fosters academic achievement, and is always friendly and supportive and bustling with variety of opportunity. Whatever you're looking for, be it the heights of academia or a thriving college community, a degree at Wadham certainly won't disappoint.'