Mathematics or Engineering at Uni?

Watch this thread
Retsek
Badges: 17
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#1
Report Thread starter 4 years ago
#1
I'm cross-posting this to both the maths sub-forum and engineering sub-forum.

I've suddenly become very conflicted about whether I should do maths or engineering at uni (most likely provoked in part by the amount of SpaceX content I've been consuming). Up until now I've been dead set on doing maths at Oxford and been working hard to prepare for the MAT. But in the research I've done the career options seem somewhat lacklustre compared to engineering opportunities (accountancy etc. not my cup of tea). I love pure maths and prefer it over physics but I don't really see myself pursuing a PHD or staying in the pure side of maths because doing it as a job sounds frankly quite boring. However if I were to apply for engineering at Oxford I would have to do a PAT and I am no where near as comfortable with my ability to prepare for that as I am the MAT. I am aware that you can apply for multiple different courses at uni and I probably will apply for engineering somewhere alongside maths (in case I have a last minute epiphany). And I am also aware that you can take more applied options within maths, like fluid dynamics and computer science (does that start from the ground up? I have no coding knowledge at all).

In summary, should I choose my course based on what I enjoy, or based on job prospects? And is there the option to choose maths and take lots of applied modules to swing my degree closer to the engineering side? Or will employers hire people with engineering degrees instead?
Additionally, what kind of job opportunities would a MMathPhys lead to?

Any and all help is much appreciated, as I am very much in the dark when it comes to career choices
0
reply
JickDee
Badges: 13
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#2
Report 4 years ago
#2
if you want to be an engineer, do an engineering degree.
otherwise, do maths.
0
reply
Muttley79
Badges: 20
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#3
Report 4 years ago
#3
(Original post by Retsek)
I'm cross-posting this to both the maths sub-forum and engineering sub-forum.

I've suddenly become very conflicted about whether I should do maths or engineering at uni (most likely provoked in part by the amount of SpaceX content I've been consuming). Up until now I've been dead set on doing maths at Oxford and been working hard to prepare for the MAT. But in the research I've done the career options seem somewhat lacklustre compared to engineering opportunities (accountancy etc. not my cup of tea). I love pure maths and prefer it over physics but I don't really see myself pursuing a PHD or staying in the pure side of maths because doing it as a job sounds frankly quite boring. However if I were to apply for engineering at Oxford I would have to do a PAT and I am no where near as comfortable with my ability to prepare for that as I am the MAT. I am aware that you can apply for multiple different courses at uni and I probably will apply for engineering somewhere alongside maths (in case I have a last minute epiphany). And I am also aware that you can take more applied options within maths, like fluid dynamics and computer science (does that start from the ground up? I have no coding knowledge at all).

In summary, should I choose my course based on what I enjoy, or based on job prospects? And is there the option to choose maths and take lots of applied modules to swing my degree closer to the engineering side? Or will employers hire people with engineering degrees instead?
Additionally, what kind of job opportunities would a MMathPhys lead to?

Any and all help is much appreciated, as I am very much in the dark when it comes to career choices
Do you enjoy applied maths? Would you like design?
Do look beyond Oxford though for Engineering as they don't offer a year in industry.
0
reply
Retsek
Badges: 17
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#4
Report Thread starter 4 years ago
#4
(Original post by Muttley79)
Do you enjoy applied maths? Would you like design?
Do look beyond Oxford though for Engineering as they don't offer a year in industry.
I do enjoy applied maths, not as much as pure, and I think I would like designing something with different properties in mind.

Something I have thought about career wise is if I get into Oxford and then if I do well enough I could transfer into the MMathPhys course and then go into the world of quantum computing but I'm not sure how feasible that sounds
0
reply
username3480226
Badges: 16
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#5
Report 4 years ago
#5
One think to take into consideration is the dependency on Physics in an Engineering degree. It is slightly easier to get into Engineering, but not significantly so; both are competitive courses. I also wouldn't worry too much about what the career opportunities for Maths graduates are, as they are often more open than you think, especially if you receive a good degree from a world class university. I would worry more about which you enjoy studying and think you would prefer doing.
Oh, also while it's pretty obvious Engineering is more practical than Maths, from my understanding in your later years you focus much more on practical work and project work rather than theory, whereas in Mathematics there will still be an emphasis on theory due to the nature of the subject.
1
reply
JickDee
Badges: 13
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#6
Report 4 years ago
#6
(Original post by Retsek)
I do enjoy applied maths, not as much as pure, and I think I would like designing something with different properties in mind.

Something I have thought about career wise is if I get into Oxford and then if I do well enough I could transfer into the MMathPhys course and then go into the world of quantum computing but I'm not sure how feasible that sounds
Have you thought about computer science? Perhaps Maths and Computer Science?
1
reply
Retsek
Badges: 17
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#7
Report Thread starter 4 years ago
#7
(Original post by JickDee)
Have you thought about computer science? Perhaps Maths and Computer Science?
Would love to do computer science and in my original post asked about the computer science modules that unis run and whether they start from grass routes because I currently don't know any coding at all and I suspect you need to have a computer science A-level to do a joint degree in it, if I'm wrong about this I would love to hear more as computer science is extremely interesting to me
0
reply
Muttley79
Badges: 20
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#8
Report 4 years ago
#8
(Original post by Retsek)
I do enjoy applied maths, not as much as pure, and I think I would like designing something with different properties in mind.

Something I have thought about career wise is if I get into Oxford and then if I do well enough I could transfer into the MMathPhys course and then go into the world of quantum computing but I'm not sure how feasible that sounds
Thereis some pure in Engineering but it is more about apploed. There is a lot of software in design and topics like fluid dynamics tend to be focused on computer similation rather than crunching formulae.

I would find out more about what Engineers do and look more at careers in maths.

Don't get obsessed with Oxford - my best students don't go there for Engineering [nor Cambridge either btw]
0
reply
Retsek
Badges: 17
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#9
Report Thread starter 4 years ago
#9
(Original post by Muttley79)
Thereis some pure in Engineering but it is more about apploed. There is a lot of software in design and topics like fluid dynamics tend to be focused on computer similation rather than crunching formulae.

I would find out more about what Engineers do and look more at careers in maths.

Don't get obsessed with Oxford - my best students don't go there for Engineering [nor Cambridge either btw]
Yes the PAT is scaring me a little bit anyways, I think thanks to you guys' responses my concern is less now about an engineering degree and more about what I can do with an applied maths degree (or in my reply to JickDee possibly a mathematics and computer science degree). Thanks for the help
0
reply
JickDee
Badges: 13
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#10
Report 4 years ago
#10
(Original post by Retsek)
Would love to do computer science and in my original post asked about the computer science modules that unis run and whether they start from grass routes because I currently don't know any coding at all and I suspect you need to have a computer science A-level to do a joint degree in it, if I'm wrong about this I would love to hear more as computer science is extremely interesting to me
You definitely do not need any coding experience or a Computer Science A-Level to do Computer Science (and Maths) at university. They care more about your mathematical ability. In fact, Oxford ask for the MAT for CS and Maths & CS. Definitely look into it.

"You don’t need to have studied Computing at school to have a realistic chance of success in applying to Oxford. Though these subjects are relevant, the way Computer Science is studied at University level is quite different from the way it is studied at school.
Also relevant are the A-level Maths modules in Discrete Maths and Decision Maths; but, the way we study these topics at University level goes far beyond what you will have done at school, so it's no particular advantage to have studied these modules. On the other hand, if the sort of questions raised by these topics excite your interest, then perhaps Computer Science is the subject for you.
ICT isn’t particularly relevant to us, so won’t be considered a particularly positive point on your application, but it isn’t “blacklisted” - Oxford

http://www.cs.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/why_oxford/standard_conditional_offers.html


It would be beneficial if you tried out coding (look up websites such as codecademy) but only because it would help you see if the degree would be right for you.
http://www.cs.ox.ac.uk/admissions/un...d_reading.html
Here is some stuff that Oxford recommend you do to get some exposure to Computer Science before applying.
0
reply
Retsek
Badges: 17
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#11
Report Thread starter 4 years ago
#11
[QUOTE=JickDee;75447502]You definitely do not need any coding experience or a Computer Science A-Level to do Computer Science (and Maths) at university. They care more about your mathematical ability. In fact, Oxford ask for the MAT for CS and Maths
0
reply
RichE
Badges: 15
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#12
Report 4 years ago
#12
(Original post by Retsek)
I do enjoy applied maths, not as much as pure, and I think I would like designing something with different properties in mind.

Something I have thought about career wise is if I get into Oxford and then if I do well enough I could transfer into the MMathPhys course and then go into the world of quantum computing but I'm not sure how feasible that sounds
It sounds like you enjoy maths, and pure moreso, and there is a great deal to be said for doing something at university that you enjoy. It sounds to me like you would enjoy a maths degree more so than an engineering degree.

I teach maths students and don't recall one becoming an accountant. Certainly there have been others who have gone on to be actuaries or bankers etc., but then when I've heard back from them their jobs have been much more varied than I might have imagined (e.g. modelling and forecasting long term energy usage, which sounds a worthwhile occupataion).

Others have gone into industry - I met one alum and she was working in the nuclear energy industry and very much seemed to be enjoying her job. So you might think about what internships you might look for during the long vacations, or skills around your degree you might pick-up to make yourself of interest to certain companies.

The bits of maths that would probably be most useful employment-wise are statistics and computing relating options.

Re the MMathPhys, I would not encourage you to have your eyes set on it solely for employment reasons, as a lot of it is on the seriously pure/theoretical end of physics - e.g. string theory.
0
reply
Muttley79
Badges: 20
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#13
Report 4 years ago
#13
(Original post by Retsek)
Would love to do computer science and in my original post asked about the computer science modules that unis run and whether they start from grass routes because I currently don't know any coding at all and I suspect you need to have a computer science A-level to do a joint degree in it, if I'm wrong about this I would love to hear more as computer science is extremely interesting to me
Many unis don't require CS A level as not all schools offer it. I would try to learn Python or something similar so you can shown you have an interest.
0
reply
artful_lounger
Badges: 21
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#14
Report 4 years ago
#14
For Quantum Computing your best bet is Physics, or a very Physics oriented Maths course (such as at either Oxford or Cambridge). The "computing" part isn't very related to most typical CS topics and is covered adequately in relevant Maths options at both unis (and some others).

However QC is very much a research area now - you don't work in a "quantum computing industry", because there isn't one (at least, not yet). You would work in a research lab which will usually be at a university. After you have your PhD and have done a postdoc etc establishing yourself, you could end up at e.g. the IBM research lab or NASA's QC lab, but that's probably less common on the whole. This isn't, incidentally, much different to the route to pursuing Pure Maths in academia.

In general people stay in academia because they like doing whatever it is they do - be it pure maths, theoretical physics, whatever. It's not because it's "a job" - it's getting paid to actually do something they enjoy. There are inevitably going to be "boring" (or alternately, stressful) elements to any job - in academia this is usually considered to be applying for funding, and teaching (especially undergrads). Equally it's impossible to really say whether you'll find doing maths (as opposed to using maths, which is what you do in A-level - and Engineering) until you've actually experienced it - which as above, you won't have at A-level (maybe a tiny bit in FM, but not even that really). If you're happy to sit and solve equations (of various kinds) all day, then Engineering is a fine choice - if you actually want to do more than just use the maths, and fundamentally understand it, then Maths is the clear choice (or perhaps, one of a handful of Physics or CS courses with a good deal of pure-er maths/theoretical options).

Incidentally you can go into engineering with a Maths degree, it's just "harder" and requires you jump through a few extra hoops. Depending on the route you go, this may not even be relevant - a Maths background would be perfectly good (if not in some cases better than engineering such as for systems or CFD stuff arguably) background for some IDC PhD and EngD programmes where you're like to get employed as an engineer by the sponsoring company (or a similar one in a similar role) at the end anyway.
0
reply
Bahl12
Badges: 7
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#15
Report 4 years ago
#15
For engineering, look to Imperial over/as well as oxford, Imeprial's maths courses are great too
0
reply
BTAnonymous
Badges: 22
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#16
Report 4 years ago
#16
The thing a lot of people neglect is what you specifically want to do after graduating. Everyone says 'yeah, mathematics and engineering graduates have huge prospects so don't worry about getting a job' which of course they are the most employable graduates, but too many people graduate and then have no idea what the hell they want to do, including natural sciences and engineering graduates from Russell group universities.

If needed, take extra time to decide on your degree and what you want to do with that degree, or even consider degree apprenticeships in engineering. I urge you to go take up work experience in the engineering industry, go to taster events to experience what engineering is really like because you can do all the research you want but it doesn't assure you that you will enjoy a career in engineering.

On a side note, if you want a career with SpaceX, then unfortunately the only way you can persue that is through US citizenship.. Elon Musk said himself that the US government classes rocket development as weapons and arms thus restricts recruitment to the US.
0
reply
Retsek
Badges: 17
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#17
Report Thread starter 4 years ago
#17
(Original post by RichE)
It sounds like you enjoy maths, and pure moreso, and there is a great deal to be said for doing something at university that you enjoy. It sounds to me like you would enjoy a maths degree more so than an engineering degree.

I teach maths students and don't recall one becoming an accountant. Certainly there have been others who have gone on to be actuaries or bankers etc., but then when I've heard back from them their jobs have been much more varied than I might have imagined (e.g. modelling and forecasting long term energy usage, which sounds a worthwhile occupataion).

Others have gone into industry - I met one alum and she was working in the nuclear energy industry and very much seemed to be enjoying her job. So you might think about what internships you might look for during the long vacations, or skills around your degree you might pick-up to make yourself of interest to certain companies.

The bits of maths that would probably be most useful employment-wise are statistics and computing relating options.

Re the MMathPhys, I would not encourage you to have your eyes set on it solely for employment reasons, as a lot of it is on the seriously pure/theoretical end of physics - e.g. string theory.
Thanks for taking the time to reply, I feel like this is becoming a conflict between what I would like to study and what I would like to do as a job :/ I would love to study things like string theory and the theoretical end of physics like you said but I struggle a little bit to see what kind of jobs that they could lead into that aren't research based (And I don't think I would like to work in that area). Whereas like you said again statistics leads to a wide variety of jobs, yet I think it's the most boring part of maths :/ Computer Science is something I hadn't looked into much because I assumed you needed a computing a level, now I know you don't I'm going to look into it, it might strike the perfect balance.
0
reply
rezzie87
Badges: 7
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#18
Report 4 years ago
#18
(Original post by Retsek)
Would love to do computer science and in my original post asked about the computer science modules that unis run and whether they start from grass routes because I currently don't know any coding at all and I suspect you need to have a computer science A-level to do a joint degree in it, if I'm wrong about this I would love to hear more as computer science is extremely interesting to me
You don't need to do Computer Science at A-level. Some unis might include it in their offers as an optional subject, but Maths will be way more valued and is usually the required subject.

The unis assume zero programming knowledge, so I hope that helps. However, because CompSci is such a practical subject, I would suggest you try some free programming courses to see if you enjoy it. Try Codecademy or FreeCodeCamp, although bear in mind that HTML and CSS are quite easy - try some high-level languages like Python, Java or C++ to get a more realistic taste of what programming is. Stanford University posted brilliant lectures on YouTube as well.

I would also recommend to check out reading lists from different unis and see if you enjoy it. Computer Science has more theory than programming in it, so it's important you understand what the content is like.

Tagging Princepieman, he's probably the best person to ask.
1
reply
username853993
Badges: 21
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#19
Report 4 years ago
#19
(Original post by Retsek)
I'm cross-posting this to both the maths sub-forum and engineering sub-forum.

I've suddenly become very conflicted about whether I should do maths or engineering at uni (most likely provoked in part by the amount of SpaceX content I've been consuming). Up until now I've been dead set on doing maths at Oxford and been working hard to prepare for the MAT. But in the research I've done the career options seem somewhat lacklustre compared to engineering opportunities (accountancy etc. not my cup of tea). I love pure maths and prefer it over physics but I don't really see myself pursuing a PHD or staying in the pure side of maths because doing it as a job sounds frankly quite boring. However if I were to apply for engineering at Oxford I would have to do a PAT and I am no where near as comfortable with my ability to prepare for that as I am the MAT. I am aware that you can apply for multiple different courses at uni and I probably will apply for engineering somewhere alongside maths (in case I have a last minute epiphany). And I am also aware that you can take more applied options within maths, like fluid dynamics and computer science (does that start from the ground up? I have no coding knowledge at all).

In summary, should I choose my course based on what I enjoy, or based on job prospects? And is there the option to choose maths and take lots of applied modules to swing my degree closer to the engineering side? Or will employers hire people with engineering degrees instead?
Additionally, what kind of job opportunities would a MMathPhys lead to?

Any and all help is much appreciated, as I am very much in the dark when it comes to career choices
1. If you want to be an engineer do engineering if not then dont
2. MMathphys is unlikely to lead to any other jobs that maths leads too
3. A maths degree leads mostly to finance, teaching, software development (you will need to code outside of uni modules too though) and research (hard to get into)
4. Dont do a maths degree hoping to go into engineering, the modules you take in maths (even the applied ones) are very different from the relevant engineering modules (even the same topic is approached in completely different ways in the 2 subjects), you just dont really have the right skill set as someone that has done maths to be an engineer
1
reply
Retsek
Badges: 17
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#20
Report Thread starter 4 years ago
#20
(Original post by artful_lounger)
For Quantum Computing your best bet is Physics, or a very Physics oriented Maths course (such as at either Oxford or Cambridge). The "computing" part isn't very related to most typical CS topics and is covered adequately in relevant Maths options at both unis (and some others).

However QC is very much a research area now - you don't work in a "quantum computing industry", because there isn't one (at least, not yet). You would work in a research lab which will usually be at a university. After you have your PhD and have done a postdoc etc establishing yourself, you could end up at e.g. the IBM research lab or NASA's QC lab, but that's probably less common on the whole. This isn't, incidentally, much different to the route to pursuing Pure Maths in academia.

In general people stay in academia because they like doing whatever it is they do - be it pure maths, theoretical physics, whatever. It's not because it's "a job" - it's getting paid to actually do something they enjoy. There are inevitably going to be "boring" (or alternately, stressful) elements to any job - in academia this is usually considered to be applying for funding, and teaching (especially undergrads). Equally it's impossible to really say whether you'll find doing maths (as opposed to using maths, which is what you do in A-level - and Engineering) until you've actually experienced it - which as above, you won't have at A-level (maybe a tiny bit in FM, but not even that really). If you're happy to sit and solve equations (of various kinds) all day, then Engineering is a fine choice - if you actually want to do more than just use the maths, and fundamentally understand it, then Maths is the clear choice (or perhaps, one of a handful of Physics or CS courses with a good deal of pure-er maths/theoretical options).

Incidentally you can go into engineering with a Maths degree, it's just "harder" and requires you jump through a few extra hoops. Depending on the route you go, this may not even be relevant - a Maths background would be perfectly good (if not in some cases better than engineering such as for systems or CFD stuff arguably) background for some IDC PhD and EngD programmes where you're like to get employed as an engineer by the sponsoring company (or a similar one in a similar role) at the end anyway.
Yes I was thinking about the gamble on whether QC will still be 100% research based when I'm in my final years of uni (2021ish) or if it would be transitioning into more of an industry I might be on the forefront of that.
0
reply
X

Quick Reply

Attached files
Write a reply...
Reply
new posts
Back
to top
Latest
My Feed

See more of what you like on
The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

Personalise

How did your AQA Combined Science - Biology Paper 1 go?

Loved the paper - Feeling positive (39)
33.91%
The paper was reasonable (46)
40%
Not feeling great about that exam... (19)
16.52%
It was TERRIBLE (11)
9.57%

Watched Threads

View All