Department of Mathematics

Planning your career with a degree in maths

Find out about the things you can do to make yourself more valuable to employers. To help with this, Career Development and Employability Services (CDES) can provide information and advice on the opportunities available to you.

Mathematics Careers Cover


Actuaries use maths and statistics to make financial sense of the future. For example, if an organisation is embarking on a large project, an actuary may analyse the project, assess the financial risks involved, model the future financial outcomes and advise the organisation on the decisions to be made.

Audio software engineer and digital signal processing

Most of today's music is produced using synthesisers and digital processors to correct pitch or add effects to the sound.

Avalanche researcher and fluid dynamics

Understanding the conditions that result in avalanches, and developing ways to predict when they might occur, uses an area of maths called fluid mechanics. This is one of the most widely applied areas of mathematics, and is also used in understanding volcanic eruptions, flight, ocean currents and even the stock market.


Mathematical biology or biomathematics is an interdisciplinary field of study. It models natural and biological processes using mathematical techniques and tools. Results have been applied to areas such as cellular neurobiology, epidemic modelling, and population genetics.

Business consultancy and operational research

To be successful in business you don't only need a good product to sell, but also huge organisational talent and a knack for predicting future trends. How do you best organise your workforce to maximise productivity? What's the best design for a factory to run as efficiently as possible? Is the market ready for new ideas? You need people who can solve complex problems, assess risk, predict the behaviour of markets, and make sense of vast amounts of data.

Communication and media

Maths, like all the sciences, has become a highly specialised field. It is next to impossible for a lay person to understand all its uses and the latest advances. Science communicators, writers and journalists are here to make maths and science accessible for the general public. They work for broadsheet newspapers and popular science magazines such as the New Scientist, help to put together and host TV programmes, write popular science books and help put on science exhibitions. For a career in this area you definitely need a maths or science degree, and this is what you should concentrate on while you are at university.

Computer games designer

Creating virtual worlds and making the people that inhabit them behave as we would expect involves a lot of maths. The virtual landscapes and things within them are three-dimensional mathematical objects, and these objects behave and interact according to the equations for the rules of physics that apply within the game.

Defence and the military

The defence sector is an important employer of mathematicians: it needs people who can design, build and operate planes and ships, and work on other advanced technologies. It also needs clear-thinking and analytical strategists.


Studying economics requires you not only be able to handle data and work with figures, but also to understand the concepts underlying economic questions. You will use maths to calculate compound interest, and arithmetic series to calculate growth of investments. You will need to use calculus to optimise cost and profit calculations, and to use maths to express and analyse supply and demand problems.

Finance and banking

In modern finance maths is of paramount importance. The financial world relies heavily on accurate forecasts of the future and these are based on rigorous mathematical models. Finding the optimal way for a company or individual to organise assets requires a keen analytical mind and very good problem solving skills — something that maths graduates have in abundance.

Insurance and risk

Life is a risky business. Insurance companies and the actuarial profession make a living by protecting individuals and companies from the consequences of these risks. As an actuary you can apply your expertise to all kinds of areas, whether it's investment banking or looking after those at the lower end of the social scale.
IT and computers

Medicine and health

Medicine, the pharmaceutical industry and the health service rely heavily on maths and stats. It's vitally important that experiments are set up safely and accurately. Once an experiment has been done, the data resulting from it needs to be analysed meticulously.

Meteorologist and climate prediction

Meteorologists use mathematics to model the factors that affect the weather to make short term predictions. They also study how changes in these will impact on the climate.

Race-car designer and aerodynamics

To make a car go faster you need to improve its aerodynamics, and this requires mathematics to describe the motion of the air as the car drives through it, and how that motion affects the car's performance. This area of mathematics is also used to understand flight and can even improve sporting performance.


Maths and stats have applications in almost any field you can imagine, but before they can be applied somebody has to develop them — and the somebodies who do this are research mathematicians and statisticians.

Space and astronomy

Space science involves a whole range of activities. You can be a researcher exploring the nature of planets and stars and the shape of our universe, you can build space ships, satellites or space probes and - most glamorous of all - you can be an astronaut and venture into space yourself.