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EPSRC award offers new PhD opportunities in pure mathematics
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Students should only embark on one of our degrees because they really enjoy Mathematics and want to study it further. However, it is reassuring to know that a Mathematics degree is highly valued by prospective employers and can lead to a large variety of interesting, diverse and well-paid careers. The average starting salary of our graduates is currently £27,000.
What use is a degree in Mathematics? There
are many careers in which the mathematics studied at university
is of direct use, for example meterorolgy, finance and insurance. Employers also wish to
employ mathematics graduates because of the transferable skills
they have acquired during their degree such as logical thinking,
analytical and critical minds and problem-solving skills. These skills can be used in combinations with mathematics knowledge as in the careers above, and also for careers where knowledge of mathematics would be useful but not obligatory, for example business or market research analyst.
UCL has an excellent Careers Advisory Service and they tell us that mathematicians are in a better situation than most graduates when seeking employment. The College’s high reputation means that top employers take part in the College’s annual careers information fair, various seminars on careers opportunities and ‘milk-round’ visits.
Below are some possible careers.
Finance and Commerce
Over half of our graduates are employed in what is described as ‘financial services’ such as accountancy, banking, insurance, tax and management consultancy and actuarial work. Large firms, such as RBS and EY, visit the Department and give presentations to our students.
Computing and Information Technology
Increasing numbers of UCL Maths graduates join the information technology industry where developments such as the Internet, electronic commerce and banking, artificial intelligence, multi-media and virtual reality all need the skills which mathematicians have in abundance. Starting points are often applications programmer, systems programmer, analyst programmer, help-desk trouble-shooter, or in research and development. Some of our graduates have even established their own software companies.
Government research establishments such as the Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (DSTL), the Meteorological Office, the Southampton Oceanography Centre, the Environment Agency, the Rutherford-Appleton and Proudman Laboratories and the Atomic Energy Agency (UKAEA) Technology, as well as large organisations such as the European Space Agency, Qinetiq, the Wellcome Foundation and the Leverhulme Trust offer interesting work requiring a high level of mathematical expertise.
Some graduates are employed in large firms in the general area of ‘operations research’. Problems facing firms are modelled by mathematicians and analysed by computers. There are numerous employers of mathematics graduates in both the public and private sector, for example, London Transport, British Gas, ESSO, Thomson Travel, Google, to name but a few. (A UCL Mathematics graduate used to be the Managing Director of London Underground.) In addition mathematicians are employed in aeronautics, hydrodynamics, thermodynamics and fluid flow, for example, in British Aerospace, in oil companies (modelling oil wells) and in designing cars (suspensions).
The shortage of mathematics teachers in schools means that there is little difficulty in getting a post with the likelihood of rapid promotion. Some of our graduates are now teaching mathematics overseas in places such as Botswana and Sri Lanka, and another is now Head of Mathematics at Harrow School - the first female ‘master’ employed at the School!
In addition to jobs where a mathematical training is a pre-requisite or a direct advantage, mathematics graduates can and do take up those jobs which simply require a degree. Indeed approximately 40% of all jobs available to graduates are open to graduates of all disciplines. Being numerate can often be a great advantage when applying for these jobs especially a graduate of one of Britain’s top five universities! UCL mathematics graduates have gone on to have a varied range of careers such as a policeman, work in the travel industry, a children’s nurse, a stage manager, a pilot, the bridge correspondent for the Independent newspaper, an independent video director and so on!
As might be expected in a research oriented department, something like between 35% to 50% of our students continue in further study. It may be a PGCE teaching qualification, a specialist Masters degree, in say, Operations Research or Differential Equations or a conversion course, in say, Medical Statistics or Information Technology. The Department of Mathematics at UCL offers an MSc in Mathematical Modelling and an MSc in Financial Mathematics. Other students who have done exceptionally well may go on to do a research degree, the two-year MPhil or the three-year PhD. PhDs are expected to produce substantial and original work in a thesis after three years. Several of our own graduates are currently taking PhDs in the Department and elsewhere.