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Study abroad : Subject Guides

Should you study Mathematics abroad? A graduate reveals all

Where can a degree in Maths take you and what should you know before you study it? A Leeds graduate tells all!

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Mathematics: you either love it or hate it! If you love it, it might be a subject you want to consider studying at university, but it’s a big commitment and you probably have a lot of questions about where a degree in the subject can take you after you graduate, how difficult it will be, or even just want an insight into what to expect from your studies...


We’ve spoken to University of Leeds Mathematics graduate Nikhil Sippy about his time studying Mathematics and where it has taken him today, along with some words of advice for anybody considering studying the subject.


Why did you decide to study Mathematics at university?


I actually decided to study Chemical Engineering initially, which sounded glamourous at the time (or not), but I soon found it wasn’t really for me. I studied it for a year, and did pretty well, but I couldn’t see myself feeling fully committed to the course. Chemical Engineering obviously involves a lot of Maths; however, you don’t really get much of an understanding of why the maths you’re using works. You use formulas and mathematical theories, but you often take the maths involved as a given, and don’t really question what lies behind it. I found this frustrating, and realised it was Maths I should have been studying all along, especially as I was so good at it at school.


At that point, I also decided I wanted to transfer universities, and ended up at the University of Leeds, which had a great School of Mathematics and a city life I really liked. Despite transferring universities and courses, the School of Mathematics at Leeds were very supportive, making sure I made a smooth transition to the university and the course. It’s always a relief to know that if you feel something isn’t working out for you, there are people there who will help you find something that is, but in retrospect I’d always recommend people make sure they’re making the right decision about what they study and where before they commit to it, it can save you a lot of hassle later on.


The School of Mathematics at the University of Leeds


How did you find Mathematics once you started studying it?


Maths is challenging but rewarding: there is a lot of work to put in, and it can take quite a while for your understanding to kick in, but when it finally clicks it feels so satisfying. Some of the modules I covered included Linear and Differential Equations and Transformations, Cosmology, and Mathematical Biology. It really shows the diversity of the course, and the variety of fields you could possibly go into after you graduate.


It’s definitely quite an intense subject to study: there are a lot of contact hours, and each week there was normally coursework to complete for every module I studied. At the end of each semester, I’d usually have four or five exams. While being good at Maths obviously requires you have a natural inclination towards it, you can’t rely on that alone at university level: you need to work hard and persevere to succeed. Working with other people on your course is probably one of the most beneficial things you can do, because it’s often the case that you might understand something while another person doesn’t, and vice versa.


What advice would you give to somebody interested in studying Mathematics?


Stay on top of the workload, you won’t be able to revise two weeks before exam time and gain an understanding of what you’ve been taught over the year.  As I said, group work is a good way of ensuring you do this. If you are finding something difficult, you should go and see a lecturer – they’re normally very happy to help.


For one module, I had a lecturer I would meet every few weeks for additional support. This wasn’t even my idea, he suggested it because he could tell I was finding the content of the module quite hard to grasp. Similarly, if there are particular areas within the subject you feel less confident about, it isn’t a massive issue, by the time you reach your third year you have a lot of freedom to focus on the areas you excel at.


If you can get work experience or an internship within an area that interests it, do it. I had a summer job at MADE.com working within the finance department, from that point I realised it was an area I was interested in pursuing, and it definitely helped me with getting a job once I graduated.


Where has your degree taken you?


Once I graduated I was employed within three weeks by FinancePlus, part of the multinational marketing group WPP, I’ve now been there for a year and half and currently within the Financial Reporting department. My job involves working closely with creative agencies to assist in preparing financial statements and ensure compliance with financial audits, this requires the highest possible attention to detail, something I definitely developed studying Maths. Alongside this I am working towards my ACCA qualification, which will hopefully lead to me becoming a charted accountant. Ultimately I hope to find a career as a financial analyst, I don’t think I would have taken the same path had I continued studying Chemical Engineering!



Where can you study Mathematics?


The beauty of Mathematics is that is is a universal language: wherever you are in the world, numbers remain the same, this makes it an easy subject to adapt to when studying abroad. We've selected a few great courses around the world that you might be interested in:


  • Queen's University Belfast offers the BSc (Hons) in Mathematics with Finance, providing students with provides students "with a particular set of mathematical skills that are ideal for work in the financial services technology sector, as well as in software engineering."

  • The BA in Mathemathics at Le Moyne College in New York is designed to "offer mathematics majors a well-rounded foundation, preparing them for either a mathematically oriented career or graduate study in a mathematical field."

  • The Bachelor of Science majoring in Applied Mathematics at Griffith University, Queensland, Australia places Mathematics in a scientific context, allowing students to gain "specialized skills and practical knowledge for a professional career in the biological, clinical, chemical, physical and mathematical sciences."


You can begin your search for a Mathematics degree that works for you here.

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