Department of Mathematical Sciences

Career prospects

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Your skills. Your experience. Your future.

A degree from our Department of Mathematical Sciences can set you up with the skills and experience to open doors to a wide range of careers.

Whether your focus is on mathematics or data, you will find that your skills are in demand in sectors across the world. From engineering to health, and finance to marketing, your degree can lead to exciting careers in fields you might not have considered.

During your time with us you will receive employability support through our Employability and Careers modules, and our university offers additional events and programmes run by our Careers teams and Student Development Department.


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What jobs will suit me?
  • Mathematics is a key route into financial institutions, such as banking, insurance and accountancy. However a degree in mathematics is in demand across many organisations, such the Office for National Statistics, MI5, and Capgemini.
  • Data science is a growing field of interest in the 21st century, and graduates can take up a range of analyst roles in organisations ranging from media companies and FinTech, to pharmaceuticals and charities.
  • Our graduates have gone to take up roles in organisations as diverse as KPMG, British Arab Commercial Bank, Hampshire County Council, and Highways England.

Career opportunities

Public sector

The UK public sector comprises a broad range of government departments and non-ministerial organisations. It includes local government (county councils and London borough councils), major public bodies like the NHS, and departments based around the country such as HMRC (based in Newcastle) and the Office for National Statistics (based in Newport, Wales).

Graduates with a mathematical degree are in high demand across the public sector. Depending on the career and the department you may find that a specific degree is needed, or that you need to complete certain modules (such as statistics) during your degree.

  • Analyst - All departments generate or collect vast amounts of data, and as an analyst you will put your data science skills to use for different projects and tasks. This includes Compliance Analyst for oversight organisations such as Ofgem, Intelligence Analyst for the Prison and Probation Service or the National Crime Agency, and Modelling and Forecast Analyst for public-facing departments such as HM Courts and Tribunals Service.
  • Statistician - The Office for National Statistics may seem like the most obvious place for statistics graduates to apply, but statisticians are in demand in multiple government bodies, from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to the Health and Safety Executive. Tasks can include assessing the quality of the data that has been generated, using statistical techniques and software to draw out evidence relating to the area of interest, and explaining the results to a range of audiences including those with minimal statistical experience.
  • Accounting, finance and auditing - Every year government departments oversee budgets worth billions of pounds and they need mathematicians to oversee spending and ensure the public gets value for money. Capital Accounting Officer roles can be found in many public sector bodies, from the Ministry of Justice to the Forestry Commission. Auditing roles such as Assurance Officers carry out reviews and oversee finances and can be found in organisations such as the Department for Education and the Ministry of Defence. There are also specialist finance agencies such as the Office for Budget Responsibility, or the Government Actuary’s Department which periodically recruits Graduate Trainee Actuaries.

For some roles you may find that you need additional qualifications in auditing or accountancy, membership of a particular professional body, or a Masters degree in a “highly numerate subject”.

Civil Service Fast Stream

The Civil Service Fast Stream is a paid professional development programme that helps graduates develop the skills needed for senior leadership roles within the Civil Service.

There are fifteen different schemes of varying durations and starting salaries, and may require you to have a specific degree in order to qualify. For example the Diplomatic and Development Scheme lasts for 2 years and requires a minimum of a 2:2 degree but doesn’t specify a subject, while both the Government Statistical Service and Government Operational Research Service require a 2.1 in a “highly numerate” subject, or a 2.2 and a postgraduate degree in a subject such as mathematics or statistics.

Applying for the Fast Stream is highly competitive but you can apply again if you are unsuccessful first time round. Starting salary can be around £24,000 a year, but on successfully completing your scheme you can be eligible for roles ranging from £40,000 to £50,000 a year.

Teaching

The UK has a shortage of qualified mathematics teachers. Students who have a poor learning experience at GCSE level are less likely to study a subject at degree level, which exacerbates this issue.

The Mathematics Teacher Training Scholarships programme is run by the Institute of Mathematics and Its Applications, with support from bodies such as the London Mathematical Society and the Royal Statistical Society. The programme aims to encourage more graduates to move into teaching by offering a government-funded bursary of £26,000 for those undertaking teacher training.

You may find that the amount of money offered and the requirements for applicants changes each year. You may need a specific degree grade (such as a 2:1) or a postgraduate degree in a highly numerate subject in order to qualify.

Private sector

Graduates in mathematics and data analytics are in high demand in the private sector. The prevalence of technology and data science in the 21st century means that companies need staff who are experienced in developing, assessing and supporting these areas.

  • Media - Organisations such as ITV and Thomson Reuters utilise Data Analyst and Insight Analyst roles for a variety of tasks and projects. This could include using data to support sales and marketing strategies or acting as a data champion to encourage other teams to utilise data effectively.
  • Financial institutions - Many mathematics graduates take up roles in financial institutions such as banks, brokerage firms, and insurance companies. This can include working in Equities Trading for an international bank, or as an Underwriting Analyst for an insurance organisation. Larger companies have a global outlook with offices in countries across the world, making these jobs ideal for international students or those wanting to experience new countries and cultures.
  • Technology – Roles in technology companies aren’t just for computer scientists. As a graduate mathematician there are plenty of career paths in tech that you can follow. You could work in Games Development for a mobile app company, or Algorithm Development and Machine Learning for a technology consultancy organisation.

Third sector

The Third Sector covers roles in organisations that don’t sit in the public or private sectors. It includes charities, non-profit organisations, community groups, and NGOs.

  • Fundraising - Fundraising activities are essential for charities to carry out their work. Graduates in mathematical sciences are great candidates for these types of roles, which can range from Community Fundraising Managers through to Grants and Corporate Fundraising. You may also find Database and Data Insights roles within fundraising or public awareness teams, with a focus on drawing out information to support campaigns or contribute to reviews after a campaign has finished.
  • Research support - Charities that support research or have their own research teams will often need Grants Officers. These roles combine finance with project management and support the research aims of a charity. This role can include advising external researchers on how to apply for grants managed by the charity, assisting in reviewing applications for grants, maintaining financial records through grants-management software, and updating teams such as marketing and communications on findings coming out of funded research.
  • Service co-ordination and project management - Many third sector organisations provide a range of services for local communities, or they may have multiple projects that need effective management to make the most impact. These roles require people who have excellent organisational skills, strong attention to detail, and good numeracy and problem-solving skills, as well as experience in data handling or logistics.

Further education and research

Some senior roles, whether in the private or public sectors, can require a Masters degree for you to be an eligible candidate. A Masters degree can allow you to specialise in a particular area, such as operational research, or undertake broader study through a Masters in mathematics or data science. If you already know you will need a Masters degree for your chosen career then one of our integrated Masters degrees in data science or mathematics will give you a direct route in to postgraduate study.

Many Masters degrees can be taken part-time to fit around other commitments. They can be a great way to brush up your skills after a career break, or help you change career.

If you enjoy the discovery and research side of your undergraduate degree then you could look at continuing your education further with a research degree such as a PhD. Not only can a PhD be a step towards an academic career, but some senior research and development roles in private organisations also require a PhD, opening up still further possibilities.

To support graduates thinking of further study we have several integrated PhD options. An integrated PhD gives you one year studying at Masters level before moving straight into a PhD. You have a chance to build a relationship with your PhD supervisor, gain experience relevant to your field of research, and begin to develop the research skills that you will need to successfully carry out your PhD.

Skills development

Specialist skills

Your degree will teach you essential specialist skills for a range of jobs. These skills can include:

  • Programming – You will learn to programme for mathematical modelling using Matlab and R. You may be able to take this further through study of programming languages such as Java and Python, and paradigms such as software development processes, and evolutionary algorithms and genetic programming.
  • Mathematics – You will study both pure and applied mathematics, from calculus to algebra and number theory, geometry to statistics and analytical mechanics to advanced ordinary differential equations.
  • Data analysis – Your data analysis skills will range from understanding databases and information retrieval, to utilising algorithms and the benefits and limitations of artificial intelligence. 
  • Statistics – This includes an understanding of statistical terms and concepts, how to apply rules of probability, the impact of random variables, and concepts of decision theory.
  • Actuarial science – Your actuarial skills and knowledge will range from the mathematics of portfolios, to financial derivatives, survival analysis, and an understanding of contingencies.

There is always some overlap between our degrees, for example students studying data analysis will have opportunities to study areas of pure mathematics, while mathematics students will encounter aspects of statistics.

This means that you will develop a broad skillset on top of a deep understanding of your chosen specialism.

Transferable skills

Whichever career path you take, you will be expected to hold a collection of transferable “soft skills”. While these are not specialist or technical, they are still extremely important for career success.

Some of the transferable skills you will develop throughout your studies include:

  • Problem solving - You will learn to spot patterns, how to work in a systematic way to find a solution, and how to start with an answer and work backwards to develop solutions that will get you there.
  • Communication – Through written reports, presentations, and group discussions you will develop your oral and written communication skills and learn how to tailor your communications to different audiences.
  • Organisation and time management – Your studies will help you develop your organisation and time management skills. You will need to arrange your time around lectures and seminars, complete work within set deadlines, and develop schedules for exam revision.
  • Collaboration and team working – Some work may involve group work and collaborating with your peers. You will learn how to collectively manage your assigned work and how to use each person’s strengths to the group’s advantage to successfully deliver a piece of work.
  • Self-directed learning and independent work – Along with working as a team you will also be responsible for working independently. You will learn to spot the gaps in your knowledge and identify ways to resolve them and evaluate your experience.
  • Persistence and creativity – Sometimes the answer isn’t obvious and finding it takes time. The mathematical sciences teach us to persevere and come up with creative solutions to the problems we are working on.

Capstone project

In the final year of your undergraduate degree you will complete a Capstone project in which you will apply your mathematical skills and knowledge to solve a problem or issue identified by your supervisor.

Your Capstone project will showcase the skills you have developed throughout your undergraduate studies. You will write up your project in a final report and deliver an oral presentation, evidencing your communication skills and ability to tailor your work to different audiences.

Our graduates

The journeys they’ve taken, the opportunities they’ve experienced, the contacts they’ve made, and the variety of careers paths that have been embarked upon. Our graduates have shared their stories with us, and now we get to share them with you.

Support and opportunities

Specialist employability module

A core component of all our degrees is our Mathematics Careers and Employability module.

This module guides our students through the process of employment. They work with their personal tutors to consider their potential career paths, understand the skills they are developing through their degree, and identify any extracurricular activities or work placements they need that will give them the experience needed to help them find employment in their chosen field.

By the end of their final year, students have a personal portfolio that they can use to fill out job applications and refer to in job interviews. They will know how to find the job vacancies suitable for them, how to plan their career and work out their next steps, and how to tailor their CV to different roles.

We know that for many students, particularly those who are first in the family, working out how a degree can help you in employment can be difficult. This module helps students gain a greater awareness of the skills they are developing through their degree and demystifies the process of job hunting for highly skilled and specialised roles.

Placement year

Many of our undergraduate degrees can include a placement year option.

After successfully completing your second year you will spend a year working in a relevant organisation before returning to study your final year at our university. Students will identify and apply for the placements that are suitable for them, with support from our department and the university’s careers team.

A placement year is a great opportunity for students to test out their chosen career and gain significant work experience that looks great on their CV. Some of our students have successfully gained fulltime employment with their placement organisation after graduation while others have used the skills and professional network developed to find similar roles in other companies.

Essex Interns

For those who don’t want to undertake a year-long break from their degree the university can help you find shorter periods of work experience.

The Essex Interns team works with companies who do not have their own established intern schemes, such as small businesses and local charities, to widen the pool of available opportunities for Essex students.

These internships are paid at least the National Minimum Wage and can range from part-time roles during term time to full-time opportunities during holidays and after graduation.

Frontrunners

Departments in the University, including professional services teams such as those in Communications and External Relations, advertise Frontrunner roles throughout the year. These roles are paid employment opportunities during term-time where you will be working on a specific project or task.

Any of these opportunities will give you experience in a professional work environment and help you put your new skills to practice. You’ll get feedback and guidance on your work and may be able to evidence your projects during job interviews.

Study abroad

Many of our undergraduate degrees can include a year abroad with a partner institution. As with our placement year option, after successfully finishing your second year you will spend the following academic year abroad at your chosen institution, before returning to Essex for your final year.

We have partnerships with institutions across the globe, from Australia and China to Canada and Uruguay, and in European countries such as Spain, France, and Switzerland. Many of our partners offer modules taught in English so you still have options if you aren’t fluent in a second language.

A year abroad can help you gain a global outlook, improve your professional network, and give you opportunities to study your subject under the guidance of other academic experts. It can also give you alternative experiences that you can refer to in job interviews, highlighting your ability to adapt to new situations and circumstances.

If you don’t want to spend a whole year abroad then we also offer summer abroad schemes such as joining in with an overseas summer school, or volunteering or undertaking an internship abroad with a charity or non-profit organisation.

Support for entrepreneurs

Rather than pursue a traditional career path, some graduates look to start their own business.

At the university support for entrepreneurial students is led by the Essex Startups team. You can take part in events such as 1:1 advice sessions to help you discuss your idea and work out how to structure your business, workshops and webinars on aspects such as marketing and finding funding, and bootcamps that give you space and support to create your business plan.

Our Colchester Campus is also home to the Start-up Hub and the Innovation Centre, where you can receive business mentoring and support, access office space, and join in networking and other events held on-site.

Skills development events

If you want to brush up on a few skills or learn something completely new then you can take part in a range of events and workshops run by university teams such as Library Services, the Student Development Department, or Careers Services.

These events take place throughout the academic year and can include technical and soft skills, such as using certain aspects of Microsoft Excel, creating your CV, and referencing and plagiarism. Special events are also held for Masters and research degree students, but all are open to students regardless of degree or department.

Careers adviser looking at paper work
Your future matters, your career matters

You don't need to have your future all planned out. We offer a range of opportunities to build your CV, and gain valuable experience and expertise, including guidance on creating a start-up or becoming an entrepreneur, to ensure your career is on the right track for when you graduate.

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