Cambridge Applied Mathematics

March 30, 2013

Image credit: Stephanie Flude

This course, commonly referred to as Part III, is a one-year taught Master's course in mathematics. It is an excellent preparation for mathematical research and it is also a valuable course in mathematics and in its applications for those who want further training before taking posts in industry, teaching, or research establishments.

Students admitted from outside Cambridge to Part III study towards the Master of Advanced Study (MASt). Students continuing from the Cambridge Tripos for a fourth year, study towards the Master of Mathematics (MMath). The requirements and course structure for Part III are the same for all students irrespective of whether they are studying for the MASt or MMath degree.

There are over 200 Part III (MASt and MMath) students each year; almost all are in their fourth or fifth year of university studies. There are normally about 80 courses, covering an extensive range of pure mathematics, probability, statistics and the mathematics of operational research, applied mathematics and theoretical physics. They are designed to cover those advanced parts of the subjects that are not normally covered in a first degree course, but which are an indispensable preliminary to independent study and research. Students have a wide choice of the combination of courses that they offer, though naturally they tend to select groups of cognate courses. Normally classes are provided as back-up to lecture courses.

Structure of the Course

The structure of Part III is such that students prepare between six and nine lecture courses for examination. These lecture courses may be selected from the wide range offered by both Mathematics Departments. As an alternative to one lecture course, an essay may be submitted. Examinations usually begin in late May, and are scheduled in morning and afternoon sessions, over a period of about two weeks. Two or three hours are allocated per paper, depending on the subject. Details of the courses for the current academic year are available on the Faculty of Mathematics website. Details for subsequent years are expected to be broadly similar, although not identical.

Most courses in the Part III are self-contained. Students may freely mix courses offered by the two Mathematics Departments. Courses are worth either two or three credit units depending on whether they last for 16 or 24 lectures respectively. Candidates for Part III may offer a maximum of 19 credit units for examination. In the past it has been recommended that candidates offer between 17 and 19 units. An essay (should a candidate choose to submit one) counts for 3 credit units. Part III is graded Distinction, Merit, Pass or Fail. A Merit or above is the equivalent of a First Class in other Parts of the Mathematical Tripos.

Learning Outcomes

After completing Part III, students will be expected to have:

  • Studied advanced material in the mathematical sciences to a level not normally covered in a first degree;
  • Further developed the capacity for independent study of mathematics and problem solving at a higher level;
  • Undertaken (in most cases) an extended essay normally chosen from a list covering a wide range of topics.


MASt students wishing to apply for the PhD must apply via the Graduate Admissions Office for readmission by the relevant deadline. Applicants will be considered on a case by case basis and offer of a place will usually include an academic condition on their Part III result.

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