These days, mathematics is such a vast subject that the traditional divisions into Pure Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Statistics are becoming less clearly defined. In particular, the traditional close association between Applied Mathematics and Physics is less prevalent, with applications in fields as diverse as Biology and Finance becoming common. Statistics is increasingly important in all sciences, pure and social, not only in the analysis and interpretation of data, but also in the design of studies and experiments.
One of the fascinating attractions of Mathematics is that as soon as parts of it separate (like Pure Mathematics and Statistics) so they come together again, and the study of experimental design involves Pure Mathematics at a high level. Cryptology and the study of devising codes is increasingly important in the age of technology and is a subject that uses and brings together Pure Mathematics thought, appreciation of uncertainty as in Statistics and throws up problems that call on the methods of Applied Mathematics for their solution. Who knows what the next age will bring?
With over 200 Higher Education courses to choose from in Britain, selecting the course that is right for you may be rather daunting. Courses vary from HND and ordinary degrees right through to the most recent Master of Mathematics qualification, which is the gateway to carrying out research in Mathematics. The ordinary degree is a respected qualification showing the ability to think and operate in a methodical way and offers many career opportunities. The three-year BSc or BA courses remain the most popular with the option of a broad based course of study across all of Mathematics, specialisation in just one or two areas, and also of combining Mathematics with another subject in a Joint Honours scheme. You can combine Mathematics with almost anything, including Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography, Geology, Economics, Accountancy, Social Science, Languages, History, Music, Art, etc.
There are also opportunities for further study for further study with specialist MSc course, Industrial Mathematics and Medical Statistics being two examples. Many Universities offer the possibility of taking an industrial placement year within their course, giving an opportunity to gain extended experience of mathematics in the workplace after first learning considerably about the subject.
Mathematics graduates are widely in demand in accountancy, finance, production and manufacturing industries as well management and education. A Mathematics degree can mean exemption from many professional examinations, particularly in the accounting and actuarial fields. Degrees with a significant Statistics component can set you on the path to achieving the professional status of Graduate or Chartered Statistician recognised by the Royal Statistical Society.
It is very important that you choose a place to study that is right for you. This means that you must be settled there, so that you can work to your full potential, and also that the course(s) offered match your interests. Change is inevitable as study develops, so it may be worthwhile to ensure that some amount of flexibility and choice exists. This way if your interests change, so can your areas of study. If you have the opportunity, visit the university or college before you commit yourself to study there, and in any event ask the questions that are important to you.