Heriot-Watt University

Graduate Diploma in the Mathematical Sciences

Some applicants for the MSc's in Actuarial Science/Financial Mathematics/Applied Mathematical Sciences do not have a honours degree in the mathematical sciences or in a related subject with a substantial mathematical or statistical content. However they may have have shown ability in Mathematics at a pre-honours level. In the past we have not usually been able to offer places on the MSc to such applicants.

Some of these students now have the opportunity to improve their mathematical knowledge by taking the Graduate Diploma in the Mathematical Sciences. Note that not all applicants may be at a high enough level to gain entry through this route - in all instances students who are interested in progressing to one of the MSc courses should apply directly to the appropriate MSc course, and state their interest in completing the Graduate Diploma first if required. Other students may wish to take the Graduate Diploma to update their mathematical/statistical qualifications for other purposes. Such students should apply directly for the Graduate Diploma.

In summary, the Graduate Diploma is a preparatory year which serves several aims:

  • It will enable students who wish to upgrade their mathematical/statistical skills for interest and/or to improve their employment prospects to undertake a supervised study year engaging with undergraduate modules at a high level
  • However the Diploma is not a ``conversion'' course and is not suitable for students with little or no previous experience of mathematics at university level.

    The Course

    The Diploma will normally run for 9 months from the middle of September to the end of May.

    Students will be based at Heriot-Watt University and will take 8 modules (one module: approximately 3 lectures per week plus one tutorial for around 12 weeks) offered at undergraduate level. All the 8 modules must be at Level 9 or 10; these are the more advanced modules taken by undergraduates in their 3rd or 4th year.

    Students will take a range of undergraduate level subjects in mathematics, statistics and probability. The Course Director will advise students who are admitted onto the course on the choice and level of modules, which will be chosen so as to be appropriate for entry onto the appropriate MSc course. The following is a list of possible modules for Semester 1: (take 4 from this list)

    For semester 2 students should normally choose four from the following

    The particular choice will depend on the student's background and on what plans the student has for further study. The Numerical Analysis modules are a popular and useful choice for all students. For those planning to continue on to the Diploma in Actuarial Mathematics, the Statistical modules would normally be recommended Those planning to continue on to the MSc in Financial Maths should take normally the Statistical modules stream and also the Stochastic Processes module. Students hoping to go on to the Mathematics Sci. MSc. will take more streams on the Applied Mathematics side, etc.

    Note that the above list is not exhaustive; students with unusual backgrounds or specific interests may be able (subject to availability and timetabling constraints) to take other combinations of modules. Even with the streams outlined above there may be some timetable clashes which will prevent students attending every lecture in their chosen modules.

    In total the combination of the Graduate Diploma in the Mathematical Sciences and the MSc will take 24 months (21 months in the case of the Diploma in Actuarial Science).

    Successful completion of the Diploma course does not guarantee a place on the MSc/Diploma course - this should be negotiated directly with the Admissions Tutor of the respective course as soon as possible. Normally a minimum of 65% on the Grad. Dip. exams is required for progression to a MSc course, but other conditions may apply.


    See the University web pages for current fee levels.

    How to apply for the Diploma in the Mathematical Sciences

    Application forms can be found
    here. There are three routes to application:
    Page maintained by Chris Eilbeck, Course Director.