About the Course
Mathematics and Philosophy is excellent educationally for those whose interests lie in this direction, and who are prepared to work hard to take advantage of the opportunities available. The Mathematics Department is one of the largest in the UK and contains within it many world-class research groups. This is reflected in the wide choice of topics available to you, especially in the fourth year. The Philosophy Faculty is the largest philosophy department in the UK, and one of the largest in the world, with more than 70 full-time members, admitting more than 500 undergraduates annually to read the various degrees involving philosophy. Many Faculty members have a worldwide reputation, and library and other facilities are acknowledged as among the best in the country. The large number of undergraduates and graduates reading philosophy with a variety of other disciplines affords the opportunity to participate in a diverse and lively philosophical community.
Mathematics and Philosophy is a 4-year course with a strong mathematical component. The syllabus has a substantial overlap with the pure mathematical part of the syllabus for Mathematics.
The ‘Studying Mathematics at Oxford’ brochure contains information about the course content on pages 17 and 18. This can be found by clicking here.
On the Philosophy side, the examination taken at the end of the first year involves a general introduction to metaphysics and the theory of knowledge, based on a selection of canonical writings, as in the case of PPE. Students then take a paper involving an introduction to the Philosophy of Mathematics, studying Frege's Foundation of Arithmetic, and learn the rudiments of Formal Logic. In the degree course the History of Philosophy is studied, and there is also a compulsory paper in Knowledge and Reality and one in the Philosophy of Mathematics. Other philosophical options are also open (see the PPE subject notes). Formal Logic (at a fairly advanced level) provides a bridge subject. No one should attempt this course without a high level of competence on the mathematical side, but many have found it intellectually very rewarding.
In your first two years, work is divided between lectures (about ten per week) and tutorials in your college (two or three per week). In your third and fourth years the same applies to philosophy subjects, but most mathematics courses are linked to intercollegiate classes rather than tutorials in your college. About a third of your week will be spent working on your own, preparing essays for philosophy tutorials, and solving problems for mathematics tutorials or classes.
To see the latest subject notes for Mathematics and Philosophy - which contain information about our tutorial fellows, the admissions process and the course itself - please consult the below link.