• Question: Is mathematics a vital part in psychics, chemistry, biology or psychology because many universities say that it is useful to have either as an A-level?

    Asked by kamile to Meeks, Pete, Stephen, Steve, Tom on 21 Jun 2010 in Categories: .
    • Photo: Marieke Navin

      Marieke Navin answered on 21 Jun 2010:

      Hi Kamile, the thing with maths is that it is everywhere. Maths literally governs how rollercoasters go round, chairs swivel and how people act in crowds. It is the language of the universe. Everything else is applied maths – all of physics, chemistry and biology etc.

      The reason it’s good to have as an A level is that it shows you are numerate and can solve problems, so it looks good and will stand you in good stead for whatever you do.

    • Photo: Tom Hartley

      Tom Hartley answered on 21 Jun 2010:

      Yes. Maths is very useful in all these subjects. I would think its probably essential in Physics, although some courses will give additional training in the key skills. In psychology we use a lot of fairly advanced statistics, and A-level maths can probably help with this.

      As well as being very useful in itself Maths provides tools for flexible, creative, problem solving. I didn’t do very well in my Maths A-Level, but I wish I had worked harder as I now use maths nearly every day and if I were better it would save me a lot of time, maybe I could even solve completely new problems with a little more maths.

    • Photo: Pete Edwards

      Pete Edwards answered on 21 Jun 2010:

      Hi kamile
      Maths is the language that physicists use to describe their ideas and theories and so as far as most universities are concerned you cannot study physics unless you have studied maths to a good level. This isn’t too bad – honest! When you’re using maths for practical things it somehow seems to make more sense.

    • Photo: Stephen Curry

      Stephen Curry answered on 21 Jun 2010:

      Hi Kamile

      I think that it is I think that anyone wanting to do science in the 21st Century would be advised to study maths at A level (although not all science degree programs make this a condition of entry).

      I think it’s unfortunate that some students go off maths for whatever reason and then find it difficult. It would be interesting to investigate the reasons for that.

      But to do any kind of science these days it is very useful to be able to work with numbers, algebra and statistics. This is especially true of physics (which might almost be called ‘natural mathematics)’. But it’s also true of chemistry and biology.

      In the case of psychology I’m not so sure – but I think an appreciation of stats and sources of error (in experimental measurement) is always important.