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Module Options

Any module that does not appear in your option lists on the online module registration system for the year you are currently in is an unusual option. Guidance on whether such an option would be allowed can be found on the Unusual Options page.

Choosing Options There are two points to bear in mind. First, you should choose modules you are really interested in; finding optional modules you are well motivated to work on is an excellent path to success at university. Second, you have to figure out how to divide your time and, later in the year, count CATS and think about exam strategy. Do not take extra optional modules if you are unable to devote the necessary time to them. Following a university lecture course is really not like following a soap opera on TV. It requires from the student a substantial input of effort and thought for each lecture, in addition to revision work in the vacation and before the exams.

Before reaching a final decision on which modules to take, you should consult your personal tutor.

Look ahead! A module you want to take next year may have a prerequisite module, which you therefore should take this year. There is often no rigid requirement that you have taken the earlier module for exam (although if you don't know the material or the points of view of the earlier module, you may have some reading up or some figuring out to do later) but note that some departments will require you to have taken the prerequisites for examination such as WBS and Economics.

For instance, MA3D1 Fluid Dynamics requires MA250 Introduction to PDEs. A second year Computer Science option may need knowledge of MA117 Programming for Scientists or CS118 Programming for Computer Scientists.

To find what you need to know in advance for a given module, look it up in the module section for its year: prerequisites are stated there. (Some also indicate which more advanced topics the module leads on to.)

For students on a joint degree, or hoping to change to one, the stated prerequisites are usually compulsory.

Pure or Applied? Rather than deciding straight away that you don't like pure maths or applied maths, wait until you've taken some of your core modules. You'll probably find that neither is quite what you expect it to be, and this will inform your choices for year 2.

Two strings to your bow By choosing options systematically from a second subject, you can develop a sideline, say, in Statistics, Business Studies, Economics, Computing, or Engineering. By doing this, you can come very close to following a joint degree, and, indeed, keep that option open. The following First Year modules are those recommended by the departments concerned.

Statistics: we have a dedicated page to outline progression through Statistics modules to keep your options as wide as possible,

Computer Science: MA117 Programming for Scientists.

Economics: EC106 Introduction to Quantitative Economics.

Industrial and Business Studies: IB104 Mathematical Programming I.

Philosophy: PH144 Mind and Reality, PH146 Reason, Argument and Analysis.

Physics: PX155 Classical Mechanics and Special Relativity, PX157 Electricity and Magnetism, PX156 Quantum Phenomena.

Second Years: improving on a disappointing first year. Care in choosing modules may help to turn a third class first year performance into a second class degree result. (Of course, allocating more time to your studies and thinking how to make that time more productive will help even more!). Consider restricting your Maths to the Core modules (65 CATS) and taking more outside options. Modules from Social Studies and Humanities usually produce marks that cluster more in the second class, so you are more likely to get a respectable (but not outstanding) mark from such options. Business Studies, Education, Law and Politics offer usual options in the second year without prerequisites.

The Language Centre ( offers a wide range of modules at various levels in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Portuguese and Spanish.

To help you achieve your language learning goals, to acquire a new language or improve your language skills, several choices are available:

a. Modules for credit on the Academic Programme 

These can be taken as part of your undergraduate degree course. There are a range of levels available, as well as accelerated options for those who want to develop their language skills at a faster pace. More information is available from: 

Note that you may only take one language module (as an Unusual Option, but you do not need to fill in an Unusual Option form) for credit in each year.  

Plan ahead! Note that 3rd and 4th year students may not take beginners level (level 1) language modules. 

b. Modules not for credit on the Academic Programme 

The same modules as those available for credit are also available to take in addition to degree studies. A fee applies to these modules. More information is available from: 

c. Courses not for credit on the Lifelong Language Learning (LLL) Programme 

A programme of language courses available to students, staff and members of the wider community from beginner to more advanced levels. More information is available from:


Enrolment takes place online for all programmes, from mid-September. Anyone intending to take a language at the Language Centre must ensure that they:

    • Follow the pre-enrolment procedure as detailed on the Language Centre website.
    • Abide by their department’s rules/guidelines if enrolling on an academic module for credit.

Academic modules: Please consult Language Centre - Academic Enrolment ( for further information on the enrolment process. The Language Centre can also be contacted by email at for more information on these modules.

Lifelong Language Learning courses: Please consult Language Centre - Enrolment for Lifelong Language Learning (LLL) Courses ( The Language Centre can also be contacted by email at for more information on these courses.

To change course, or to take options? A small number of students take advantage of the Mathematics Department's flexible options policy by remaining on the mathematics degree course, while taking up to 50% of their course credit from another department. If you wish to do this as an alternative to transferring to another department or changing to a joint degree, it's fine by us. The only essential point is that in order to remain on the maths degree, you must satisfy our requirements (notably in the 3rd year of the BSc. taking at least 57 CATS credits from List A, including at least 45 CATS of modules with codes beginning MA3 or ST318). If you transfer to another department or a joint degree, you will of course have a different set of requirements, possibly more substantial and less flexible.

Where am I going? Which modules lead to which?

At every stage it is important to look ahead. Otherwise you might one term run out of modules you want to take, or find that you have not taken modules one year that are prerequisites for modules you want to take in a later year.

Most modules and descriptions list some prerequisite courses. These are advice rather than compulsion unless explicitly stated, but the advice should be taken seriously. If you know which modules you want to take in future, you should also ask advice from your tutor about the optional modules to select now.

Within the Mathematics Department you can usually still take a module even if you have not done all the previous modules you are supposed to need. In that case you might find it very difficult, but if you are resourceful and determined there is usually a way round (ask the lecturer for advice). If you are taking modules in other Departments and particularly if you are on a joint degree, it may sometimes be compulsory to have taken prerequisite modules; you should read other Department's course descriptions very carefully.

It is possible to take second year optional maths modules in the third year. You may wish to consider delaying optional modules in this way if you are finding the mathematics very challenging, or if you are just too busy with other choices.

NOTE: fourth year MMath students will only be able to take second year modules as unusual options, and will need to provide a compelling reason for doing so. Module choices should take this into account.

Options and careers It's a good idea to consider your future career when you choose options or think about transferring to a joint degree.