Mathematics, or maths, is a subject that has an image problem. Mathematics is a truly marvellous and fascinating subject. But a third-level education really shows Mathematics remarkable usefulness and beauty. Maths brings computers to life. It can calculate the statistical probability of anyone ever defeating Kilkenny in the hurling. What’s more, maths play a vital role in disciplines such as Astrophysics. Indeed, Theoretical Mathematics has often been compared with poetry and painting due to its aesthetic value and its reliance on creative inspiration. Still sound dull?

Mathematics at third-level is extremely demanding. Therefore, you need to have both a real interest and capability in the area.


Mathematics (or Mathematical Science) degrees introduce students to core topics such as:

  • Analysis
  • Geometry
  • Algebra
  • Computing
  • Statistics

Pure maths examining theories such as Quantum Mechanics and solving mathematical problems for their own sake. Applied maths solves real world problems in technology, economics, and so forth. As the degree progresses, you should become adept at solving ever more complex problems. You should also be able to generate and critically analyse your own mathematical hypotheses.

The business world relies strongly upon those with mathematical ability. If this appeals to you, consider doing a degree in Financial Mathematics, Actuarial Mathematics or Mathematics with Economics.

Mathematics is also widely applied in the financial world in the solving of problems such as pricing financial products, and the modelling and analysis of financial markets.

In economics, statistical analysis is used in economic forecasting. Econometrics is the testing and analysis of economic principles and theories using statistical methods.

In financial, economic and actuarial mathematics in particular, you will learn how probability theory and modelling can work out probable outcomes. In economics for instance, it might be the probable outcome of an economic policy.

The Work

Mathematics graduates have the ability to solve difficult problems, analyse information and think logically.

Depending on your interests and the subject you choose during your degree, you could end up working in a wide variety of fields. These include finance, accountancy, computing, industry, investment, meteorology, IT, engineering, software design, economics, healthcare, energy, education, research, the government or the environmental sector, to name but a few.

Therefore, there are lots of potential career options to consider. We are going to concentrate on the mathematician and the statistician.

Mathematicians can be divided into two groups – Theoretical and Applied. Theoretical mathematicians advance of mathematical knowledge, develop new principles and recognise previously unknown relationships between existing mathematic principles. Many theoretical mathematicians work as university lecturers and divide their time between teaching and conducting research.

Applied mathematicians use theories and techniques such as computational methods, to formulate and solve practical problems. These could be problems in business, government, and engineering or in the physical, life, and social sciences. For example, they could analyse the most efficient way to schedule airline routes between cities, or examine the safety and side effects of new drugs across a section of the population.

Statisticians collect, analyse and interpret quantitative information, for business, scientific or governmental use. This information could include birth and death rates, unemployment figures, the current prison population or the number of people on hospital waiting lists. Statisticians need to be able to explain their methods and results clearly, and also give advice based on what they have discovered.

Did you know?

The billionth digit of Pi is 9. Sure, everyone knows that!

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