The Student Room Group

Maths or Chemistry Degree?

Hi. I'm currently stuck deciding whether to study Chemistry or Maths at uni. I've applied for maths because I like it and I can do it. I have offers from good unis but now I'm having cold feet.
Thing is, I prefer chemistry, but I'm not a big fan of lab work (I don't hate it, just prefer theoretical chem) and I feel as though maths will give me better job opportunities in the future (I don't know what career I want). I don't know if I should try to change my course either now or in Clearing, if I get the grades. I just enjoy chemistry quite a bit more.
Anyone who has done/is doing a maths or chemistry degree, what would you say?
Or does anyone have any general advice?
Thank you!
Reply 1
I take chemistry and maths at A-level but I have chosen a maths degree. I don't really like chemistry and it is by far my least favourite a-level (out of bio, chem, maths). I simply wouldn't enjoy or be able to put up with the lab work and producing lab reports for another 3-4 years. I assume lab work would be a massive part of any chemistry-related degree.

One thing I've noticed applying to maths courses is that most mathematical jobs and industries only require a degree with a mathematical focus or at least a focus of mathematical modules (so this could be anything from economics to engineering to chemistry). If you enjoy chemistry and maths, but you don't have a specific field you want to go into and feel you would be happy and successful in either degree, I'd probably pick chemistry as I believe it would give you an opportunity in more fields.

No matter what you choose chemistry and maths degrees will look great on any CV and will give you a good future career. Also, there are many people out here that know more than me so I'd definitely do some more research yourself and maybe look at the requirements for a few careers you could see yourself in after you graduate. 🙂
Reply 2
Original post by Jieay20
I take chemistry and maths at A-level but I have chosen a maths degree. I don't really like chemistry and it is by far my least favourite a-level (out of bio, chem, maths). I simply wouldn't enjoy or be able to put up with the lab work and producing lab reports for another 3-4 years. I assume lab work would be a massive part of any chemistry-related degree.

One thing I've noticed applying to maths courses is that most mathematical jobs and industries only require a degree with a mathematical focus or at least a focus of mathematical modules (so this could be anything from economics to engineering to chemistry). If you enjoy chemistry and maths, but you don't have a specific field you want to go into and feel you would be happy and successful in either degree, I'd probably pick chemistry as I believe it would give you an opportunity in more fields.

No matter what you choose chemistry and maths degrees will look great on any CV and will give you a good future career. Also, there are many people out here that know more than me so I'd definitely do some more research yourself and maybe look at the requirements for a few careers you could see yourself in after you graduate. 🙂

Thank you so much, this is really helpful! That's a good idea about the career requirements.
Good luck with your maths degree 🙂
Reply 3
Reply 4

Good idea, they look really interesting. Thanks!
Original post by Car44
Hi. I'm currently stuck deciding whether to study Chemistry or Maths at uni. I've applied for maths because I like it and I can do it. I have offers from good unis but now I'm having cold feet.
Thing is, I prefer chemistry, but I'm not a big fan of lab work (I don't hate it, just prefer theoretical chem) and I feel as though maths will give me better job opportunities in the future (I don't know what career I want). I don't know if I should try to change my course either now or in Clearing, if I get the grades. I just enjoy chemistry quite a bit more.
Anyone who has done/is doing a maths or chemistry degree, what would you say?
Or does anyone have any general advice?
Thank you!

Hey!

I’m Oliver and am currently a fourth year in natural sciences studying synthetic chemistry and biochemistry pathways. I was in a similar position at A-level where I was torn between subjects and found natural sciences to be a great option to keep all of my interests going so I thought I’d share a bit about my degree in case it's of interest :smile:

Natural sciences is definitely one of the most flexible degrees out there allowing you to study across two or three different departments. At Lancaster there are so many different pathways to choose from across all branches of chemistry, physics, maths, biology, geography and psychology, just to name a few. Each university will do pathways slightly differently and a have a varied range of possible combinations so definitely check that out on the relevant websites. The full list of pathways and entry requirements for Lancaster can be found here: https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/natural-sciences/

There is also the option to alter you pathway choices as you progress through your degree. For me this was extremely valuable as I was able to drop my physical chemistry pathway after first year to allow for a greater focus on biochemistry.

One of the best things about natural sciences is the vast range of experiences you get and people you meet. Since you study alongside the single honours students across multiple departments, you get to see so many more faces and there is never a lonely lecture. It’s also great to see how all the different sciences interlink and you can often apply something you learnt in one subject to one of your other pathways which is fascinating!

Hope that is helpful and best of luck with your decision 😊Feel free to ask me any other questions if you have any

Oliver (Student Ambassador)
Original post by Car44
Hi. I'm currently stuck deciding whether to study Chemistry or Maths at uni. I've applied for maths because I like it and I can do it. I have offers from good unis but now I'm having cold feet.
Thing is, I prefer chemistry, but I'm not a big fan of lab work (I don't hate it, just prefer theoretical chem) and I feel as though maths will give me better job opportunities in the future (I don't know what career I want). I don't know if I should try to change my course either now or in Clearing, if I get the grades. I just enjoy chemistry quite a bit more.
Anyone who has done/is doing a maths or chemistry degree, what would you say?
Or does anyone have any general advice?
Thank you!


Worth bearing in mind (most of) the maths in a maths degree is very different to A-level Maths. Liking and doing well in A-level Maths does not necessarily mean you will enjoy the maths of a maths degree!

Maths does not have "better" job opportunities than chemistry. They're largely the same aside from a couple of specialist lab based chemistry roles on the chemistry side, or some very quantitative roles in e.g. data science on the maths side (although you could also just do a masters after the chemistry degree and do that, or even potentially through your optional modules develop enough of a quantitative background to be able to apply to those roles).

There is quite a lot of labwork involved in a chemistry degree however. However I don't think it necessarily makes up a large proportion of the formative assessment at all unis, but you do still need to do it. @CheeseIsVeg might be able to give you more insight into the scope of labwork in a chemistry degree :smile:
Original post by artful_lounger
Worth bearing in mind (most of) the maths in a maths degree is very different to A-level Maths. Liking and doing well in A-level Maths does not necessarily mean you will enjoy the maths of a maths degree!

Maths does not have "better" job opportunities than chemistry. They're largely the same aside from a couple of specialist lab based chemistry roles on the chemistry side, or some very quantitative roles in e.g. data science on the maths side (although you could also just do a masters after the chemistry degree and do that, or even potentially through your optional modules develop enough of a quantitative background to be able to apply to those roles).

There is quite a lot of labwork involved in a chemistry degree however. However I don't think it necessarily makes up a large proportion of the formative assessment at all unis, but you do still need to do it. @CheeseIsVeg might be able to give you more insight into the scope of labwork in a chemistry degree :smile:

Thanks for tagging me :hugs:
Original post by Car44
Hi. I'm currently stuck deciding whether to study Chemistry or Maths at uni. I've applied for maths because I like it and I can do it. I have offers from good unis but now I'm having cold feet.
Thing is, I prefer chemistry, but I'm not a big fan of lab work (I don't hate it, just prefer theoretical chem) and I feel as though maths will give me better job opportunities in the future (I don't know what career I want). I don't know if I should try to change my course either now or in Clearing, if I get the grades. I just enjoy chemistry quite a bit more.
Anyone who has done/is doing a maths or chemistry degree, what would you say?
Or does anyone have any general advice?
Thank you!


Hello there @Car44 :hi:
I recently graduated from uni doing a master's in chemistry and I had a few friends who ended up doing the MChem with Mathematics. Could be a cool option for you or even similar courses. You do your main chemistry but all your optional modules are in maths. Each Uni probably does it differently but at Southampton, the maths modules are so varied and you can basically pick anything. I would definitely check out some of these things as it could be really up your street.

If you chose just chemistry, even within the subject there are many options to go deeper into the theoretical/mathematical side. I actually really enjoyed doing this in my 4th year but this was available from 1st year. E.g. you can take mathematical models in chemistry and it is actually really useful for later modules on the course. You may also find the physical chemistry/inorganic chemistry concepts much more rewarding if you have a background/fondness for maths since there are some interesting mathematical concepts raised e.g.: group theory, trigonometry, complex numbers, calculus.

As artful_lounger mentioned, I would say you can achieve pretty much all the careers associated with maths with a chemistry degree. You can even specialise in other types of chemistry such as computational/data science which again has more of a maths side to things. You learn many transferable skills in chemistry such as practical work, team-working, risk assessing, writing reports and presenting. Check out the things you can do with chemistry because there are so many different fields out there. I know friends who went into teaching, medicine, finance, synthetic chemistry, marketing, pharmacy and even environmental consultancy. There are so many options!

I am in touch with current undergraduates on the course and I think that now the course has python coding incorporated into one of the undergraduate teaching labs so that could also be of interest and also a great way to specialise later on if you enjoy it.

I definitely didn't like maths as much as you clearly do, however I found chemistry labs to be much more enjoyable at University. I also found my love of the maths in chemistry building up and so I took advanced quantum mechanics in my final year as I enjoyed it so much. Check out the descriptions of the modules on the courses you are looking at because it may sway you.
I actually recently answered a query about labs at Uni here so feel free to read about it.

If there's anything to take from this post (should you read it), please do not do a 3 year course you may not enjoy. It will be so difficult to enjoy uni life/do well in exams if you are not engaged in the subject/not enjoying the course. Feel free to investigate more with open days/visit days or just get in touch with the department/academics or current students. Ask any questions, nothing too small is unimportant (well maybe the colour of the carpet in your halls of residence) and make sure you make the decision that is best for you.
(edited 2 months ago)
Reply 8
Original post by Car44
Hi. I'm currently stuck deciding whether to study Chemistry or Maths at uni. I've applied for maths because I like it and I can do it. I have offers from good unis but now I'm having cold feet.
Thing is, I prefer chemistry, but I'm not a big fan of lab work (I don't hate it, just prefer theoretical chem) and I feel as though maths will give me better job opportunities in the future (I don't know what career I want). I don't know if I should try to change my course either now or in Clearing, if I get the grades. I just enjoy chemistry quite a bit more.
Anyone who has done/is doing a maths or chemistry degree, what would you say?
Or does anyone have any general advice?
Thank you!

As a second-year student who's seen a few things like the bottom of a coffee cup at 3 AM :smile:, I totally get the struggle of choosing between Maths and Chemistry. It's like being asked to pick between pizza and burgers both are great, but you know deep down you have a favorite.
Maths is cool because, let's face it, there's something satisfying about solving a problem that looked like an alien language at first. But then, there's Chemistry, where you get to wear those stylish lab coats and pretend you're brewing potions (or is it just me who does that?).
Now, for the lab work part I feel you. The only thing I liked about my Chemistry lab was... leaving it. But hey, theoretical chem is like the plot of a good book, full of twists and turns but without the smell of unknown chemicals. And let's not forget, in Maths, there's no risk of spilling something and turning into a superhero (or is that a downside?).
Remember, uni is about finding out what you love (and how many instant noodles one can consume without turning into one). Whatever you choose, make sure it's something that gets you excited like how I feel when I see a "class canceled" email.
Reply 9
Original post by CheeseIsVeg
Thanks for tagging me :hugs:


Hello there @Car44 :hi:
I recently graduated from uni doing a master's in chemistry and I had a few friends who ended up doing the MChem with Mathematics. Could be a cool option for you or even similar courses. You do your main chemistry but all your optional modules are in maths. Each Uni probably does it differently but at Southampton, the maths modules are so varied and you can basically pick anything. I would definitely check out some of these things as it could be really up your street.

If you chose just chemistry, even within the subject there are many options to go deeper into the theoretical/mathematical side. I actually really enjoyed doing this in my 4th year but this was available from 1st year. E.g. you can take mathematical models in chemistry and it is actually really useful for later modules on the course. You may also find the physical chemistry/inorganic chemistry concepts much more rewarding if you have a background/fondness for maths since there are some interesting mathematical concepts raised e.g.: group theory, trigonometry, complex numbers, calculus.

As artful_lounger mentioned, I would say you can achieve pretty much all the careers associated with maths with a chemistry degree. You can even specialise in other types of chemistry such as computational/data science which again has more of a maths side to things. You learn many transferable skills in chemistry such as practical work, team-working, risk assessing, writing reports and presenting. Check out the things you can do with chemistry because there are so many different fields out there. I know friends who went into teaching, medicine, finance, synthetic chemistry, marketing, pharmacy and even environmental consultancy. There are so many options!

I am in touch with current undergraduates on the course and I think that now the course has python coding incorporated into one of the undergraduate teaching labs so that could also be of interest and also a great way to specialise later on if you enjoy it.

I definitely didn't like maths as much as you clearly do, however I found chemistry labs to be much more enjoyable at University. I also found my love of the maths in chemistry building up and so I took advanced quantum mechanics in my final year as I enjoyed it so much. Check out the descriptions of the modules on the courses you are looking at because it may sway you.
I actually recently answered a query about labs at Uni here so feel free to read about it.

If there's anything to take from this post (should you read it), please do not do a 3 year course you may not enjoy. It will be so difficult to enjoy uni life/do well in exams if you are not engaged in the subject/not enjoying the course. Feel free to investigate more with open days/visit days or just get in touch with the department/academics or current students. Ask any questions, nothing too small is unimportant (well maybe the colour of the carpet in your halls of residence) and make sure you make the decision that is best for you.

Hi, this is incredibly helpful, thanks so much!

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