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Mathematics and Philosophy

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 Mathematical Institute 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 the 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.

 

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.

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 Mathematical Sciences departmental prospectus contains information about the course content and can be found here.

On the Philosophy side, students sit two papers at the end of the first year. The first paper, Elements of Deductive Logic, covers introductory formal logic. The content of this paper includes material studied by all first-year students in joint schools involving Philosophy, but also questions of a more mathematical nature that are specifically designed for students studying Philosophy in combination with Mathematics, Computer Science, or Physics.

The second paper, Introduction to Philosophy, has two parts. The first is General Philosophy, which covers introductory topics in epistemology, metaphysics and philosophy of mind. The second half of the paper is on Frege’s Foundations of Arithmetic and covers introductory topics in the philosophy of mathematics.

After completing the Preliminary Examination, students are required to study the Philosophy of Mathematics and must either take Early Modern Philosophy, covering key thinkers such as Descartes, Locke, and Hume, or Knowledge and Reality, which covers more advanced topics in epistemology and metaphysics. Other philosophical options are also available (see the PPE).

Fellows

Professor Andrew Dancer

Professor Andrew Dancer’s research is in differential geometry, especially the study of Einstein spaces. He is responsible for the teaching of pure mathematics including algebra, analysis, geometry and topology.

Dr James Oliver

Dr James Oliver’s research is predominantly in fluid dynamics and its applications to free and moving boundary problems in industry, engineering and biology. He teaches Physical Applied Mathematics.

Professor Robin Evans

Professor Robin Evans teaches probability and statistics for the College. His research interests include statistical causality, graphical models and algebraic statistics.

Professor Jean Baccelli

Professor Jean Baccelli is a Tutorial Fellow in Philosophy. He teaches Introduction to Logic, General Philosophy, Moral Philosophy, Ethics, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Science and Social Science.

Professor Milo Phillips-Brown

Professor Milo Phillips-Brown is a Tutorial Fellow in Philosophy. He teaches General Philosophy, Moral Philosophy, Ethics, AI Ethics, Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Logic and Language, Philosophical Logic and Logic.

Lecturers

Izar Alonso Lorenzo

Izar Alonso Lorenzo teaches Pure Mathematics and her research interests are in Differential Geometry.

Miss Ellen Luckins

Miss Ellen Luckins teaches Differential Equations, Integral Transforms and Prelims Geometry.

The deadline to submit your application for undergraduate study via UCAS is 15 October each year. Please refer to the University’s webpages for detailed information on how to apply.

Places available at Jesus College

In a total College entry of about 100 undergraduates, 8 are offered places in a typical year to read Mathematics and the related Joint Schools courses.

Academic requirements

A-levels A*A*A with the A*s in Mathematics and Further Mathematics (if taken) or equivalent qualifications. For those whom Further Mathematics is not available: either A*AAa with A* in Mathematics and a in AS-level Further Mathematics or A*AA with A* in Mathematics. Further Mathematics is highly recommended.

A Philosophy A-level is not a requirement, though candidates will be expected at interview to show a strong capacity for reasoned argument and a keen interest in the subject.

For further information, including other UK qualifications and international qualifications, please click here.

Selection criteria

The specific selection criteria are given on the Mathematical Institute and the Faculty of Philosophy websites.

Admissions tests

All candidates must take the Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT) as part of their application. Separate registration for this test is required and it is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered by the deadline of 30 September 2022. We strongly recommend making the arrangements in plenty of time before the deadline. Everything you need to know, including how to register and guidance on how to prepare, can be found can be found here.

Written work

You do not need to submit any written work as part of an application for this course.

Interviews

If you are interviewed at Jesus you can expect two or three separate interviews with different Mathematics tutors. The interviews will involve some general questions, but most of the time will be spent discussing mathematical topics. There will also be an interview for Philosophy. Candidates must be of at least as high a standard in Pure Mathematics as those admitted to read single subject Mathematics. A candidate who is acceptable to read Mathematics and Philosophy would probably also be acceptable to read Mathematics.

Deferred Entry

Please refer to the Departmental website for subject-specific advice.

The Tutors have no objection in principle to offering a place to a candidate who wishes to defer entry for a year, provided this intention is made known at the outset. You must apply for deferred entry at the time of application to Oxford: you cannot change your mind after an offer has been made.

You should be aware that applicants who are offered places for deferred entry will generally be among the very strongest of the cohort for their subject, and the College limits its offers of deferred places in order not to disadvantage candidates applying in the following year. In some cases, an applicant for deferred entry may be offered a place for non-deferred entry instead.

Joint Schools

Mathematics can studied as a single discipline and is also available as a joint course as follows:

Philosophy cannot be studied as a single discipline for a degree, but it is available as a joint course as follows:

The Mathematical Institute at Oxford enjoys a high reputation, both nationally and internationally, for the excellence of its teaching and research, and is among the largest in the country. Mathematical research at Oxford covers a very wide range in both pure and applied mathematics. It attracts generous research funding and draws students and visiting faculty from all parts of the world. The following postgraduate degrees are offered:

  • DPhil or MSc by Research in Mathematics
  • MSc Mathematical and Computational Finance [Jesus College does not normally accept students for this course]
  • MSc Mathematical and Theoretical Physics
  • MSc Mathematical Modelling and Scientific Computing
  • MSc Mathematical Sciences
  • MSc Mathematics and the Foundations of Computer Science
  • EPSRC CDT Mathematics of Random Systems: Analysis, Modelling and Algorithms

Philosophy Graduate students will find themselves members of a large graduate community, together with others with shared interests who are at an equivalent stage in their intellectual development. The following degrees are offered at postgraduate level:

  • BPhil in Philosophy
  • DPhil in Philosophy
  • MSt in Ancient Philosophy
  • MSt in Philosophy of Physics
  • MSt in Practical Ethics

Recent graduates either went on to further academic study, or found employment in professions that include teaching, IT, industry, commerce and finance, both in the UK and abroad. The absence of applied mathematical content does to some extent restrict your career options, both in teaching and in industry.

Please use the links below for further information:

 

If you are contemplating a course involving Philosophy, or wondering whether such a course would suit you, you might wish to read some of the following:

  • Thomas Nagel What Does It All Mean? (Oxford)
  • Bertrand Russell The Problems of Philosophy (Oxford)
  • M Hollis Invitation to Philosophy (Blackwell)
  • Nigel Warburton Philosophy: The Basics (Routledge)
  • Julia Driver Ethics: the Fundamentals (Blackwell)
  • Simon Blackburn Think (Oxford)
  • Roger Scruton An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Philosophy (Duckworth)

If you have any questions about entrance requirements, or about applying to study at Jesus College, please contact the Admissions Officer:

Tel: 01865 279721
Email: admissions.officer@jesus.ox.ac.uk
Web: www.jesus.ox.ac.uk