Why study mathematics at Cambridge?

Good reasons are that you enjoy mathematics, you are good at mathematics, and you are looking for a course that interprets mathematics in the broadest sense.

Detailed information about the Cambridge course is available on the admissions pages of the Faculty of Mathematics' website and in the Faculty's Guide to Admissions. In summary, the course:

  • is designed to integrate students from a wide range of backgrounds;
  • has a first-year structure where solid foundations are laid;
  • has increasing flexibility and breadth in subsequent years (especially in the fourth year), allowing students to pursue their own interests whether they be in Pure Mathematics, Applicable Mathematics, Statistics, Applied Mathematics and/or Theoretical Physics;
  • will teach you lots of new and exciting mathematics, but will also stretch you intellectually, and make you think differently (the latter, in particular, being an attribute sought by employers);
  • takes either three years (leading to a BA), or four years (leading to a BA and a MMath);
  • is an outstanding mathematics course ... but we would say that, wouldn't we!

Why choose Emmanuel?

Choice of College is somewhat subjective. Most students will be at home in most Colleges, but there are a few differences between Colleges.

At Emmanuel we aim to take 10-12 students per year (where this figure includes the 1-2 taking Mathematics with Physics in their first year). This is more than most Colleges, so there is almost always someone else in your year with similar mathematical interests (be it pure, applied, statistics, etc.); however, it is fewer than the largest Colleges, so your friendship group will include non-mathematicians.

We aim to attract mathematicians from a wide variety of backgrounds and with a wide variety of interests who, on graduation, will have benefited most from their time in Cambridge. Hence we are looking for mathematical potential, rather than necessarily the finished product (not in the least because it is most fun and challenging to teach the brightest students). To that end, Emmanuel is one of the heaviest users of the Flexible Offer (an offer that is aimed at applicants from groups that are currently under-represented at Cambridge, or those who have had to overcome significant educational disruption and/or socio-economic disadvantage). Between the 2019-20 and 2022-23 admissions rounds inclusive, 50% of all offers made to candidates eligible for home fees were Flexible Offers.

The University organizes lectures and examinations, while the Colleges arrange small-group teaching (called supervisions). For your first three years, you will on average be supervised twice a week, normally in groups of two, by mathematicians ranging from Professors to research students. Given their different backgrounds, your supervisors have varied attributes, e.g. some have more experience, while others are closer to your own age (and to whom you may find it easier to relate). However, taken as a whole, our aim is to excite you, to engage you, and to develop the full range of your mathematical abilities.

Your Directors of Studies will take a particular interest in you during your first year as you settle into College and University life. Our aim is to develop a strong ethos of mutual support within and between years. We hope that we are successful.

On balance, we prefer mathematicians not to take a gap year, but if you wish to do so, then at least part of the time should be spent on some mathematics-related activity, simply to stop you going rusty.

For those who still read books, the mathematics section in the College Library is well-endowed, and it is straightforward to order new books.

We recognize that deciding on a College is not easy. However, compared with your leading-order decision to read mathematics at Cambridge, your choice of College is a second-order effect, so do not lose too much sleep over it.

Sixth Term Examination Papers (STEP)

Like other Colleges, Emmanuel almost always includes STEP grades in conditional offers. One of the reasons we use STEP is because the questions are less standard and less structured than, for example, A-level questions; this helps us to identify ability and potential. Another is that success at STEP is a good predictor of success in the Mathematical Tripos. Details of our standard STEP offers are given below, however we emphasise that we take individual circumstances into account in determining each offer. For more information and help regarding STEP please see the Faculty of Mathematics' STEP pages, and the Faculty's free online STEP Support Programme for those preparing for STEP.

Further Mathematics

If you are taking A-levels, then both Mathematics and Further Mathematics are course requirements. If your school does not offer teaching for Further Mathematics, you may be able to get help from the Advanced Mathematics Support Programme and Integral. We have had successful applicants who started Further Mathematics at the end of year 12.

Admissions Information

Standard Offer:

Grade 1 or above in both STEP II and III plus:

  • A-level: A*A*A with A* in Mathematics and A* in Further Mathematics;
  • IB Higher Level: 776 with 7 in Mathematics (Analysis and Approaches), and 7 in Physics (if taken), 42 points overall;
  • Advanced Highers: A1A1A2 with A1 in Mathematics, and A1 in Physics (if taken);
  • other exam systems.
Flexible Offer: In the case of applicants from groups that are currently under-represented at Cambridge, or those who have had to overcome significant educational disruption and/or socio-economic disadvantage, A-level applicants may be made an offer which will be met if they achieve either A*A*A with at least grade 1 in both of STEP II and III, or A*A*A* with at least grade 1 in either STEP II or III (both papers to be taken).
Course Requirements:

STEP plus:

  • A-level Mathematics and Further Mathematics; additionally, for Mathematics with Physics applicants, one of A-level Physics, or the Mechanics options within A-level Further Mathematics;
  • IB Higher Level: Mathematics; additionally, for Mathematics with Physics applicants, Physics.
Course Outline: Further course details are available on the Faculty's website.
Applying: For information on how to apply: University application process and Emmanuel application timeline.
Admissions Assessment:

This College does not require applicants to take an assessment for this subject.


Candidates should normally expect two interviews. The interviews will take place during the period Monday 9 - Wednesday 18 December 2024. Specific subject dates will be emailed to applicants in November.

During the interviews, each of which last for approximately 30 minutes, we look to see how you approach the unknown, and how keen you are to find out more. For example: many know that to test whether a number is divisible by three, you add up the digits and check if the sum is divisible by three. Have you ever wondered why? We might ask something like this as a starter question, and then develop the idea.

The best interview preparation is to do lots of mathematics and to have a secure hold of the material you have been taught at school. Then, you need to bring to the interview an alert mind and an interest in the subject.

We aim to ask you slightly non-routine questions, and it is normal for students to get stuck and require hints (since one of the qualities we are looking for is how you use those hints). During the interview we will ask you to explain your approach to the questions (so that we can understand what you are thinking). We appreciate that this is not something that you normally do when trying to solve a problem, so our final word of advice is to practice talking about your working while you are doing some questions.

Course Enquiries: Emmanuel Admissions Office