University: The participants came from a total of 26 different universities, of approximately 50 contacted, with an average of Some 49 different specific degree titles are represented in the study, although it was most common for participants to have been studying general engineering courses Year of study: More than half of the participants were in their second year of study, with The highest level of secondary mathematics studied by most participants was A-level Mathematics One participant 0.
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The grades for those who took the full A-level are given in Table 1 , showing that the students in the sample were high-achieving engineering undergraduates. Table 1. The applied strand most-frequently studied by the participants was Mechanics, with students reporting that they had taken at least one unit.
Statistics was studied by participants. In line with existing research it appears that, of those engineering students who studied Mechanics, most had taken either one or two units. Most who had taken Statistics and Decision Mathematics had only studied one unit Participants who had taken Further Mathematics were also asked how many Further Pure Mathematics units they had taken. Those who only studied AS Further Mathematics 44 participants will only have taken FP1, whilst those who had taken the full A-level participants will have studied two or more units.
When asked to describe how useful each of the types of non-compulsory units was, the two units that received the most positive feedback were Mechanics and Further Pure Mathematics. However, it should be noted that only one-third described Statistics as being not useful at all, so there are some perceived merits in its study. Table 2. The A-levels as preparation for undergraduate engineering. This may be because Further Mathematics allows students to study more than two applied units overall, and because increased exposure to Mechanics is linked with better performance in engineering e.
Lee et al. Table 3. Participants were also asked two open-ended questions about any mathematical content that they felt should have been included at A-level, as well as any improvements they would like to see made to Mathematics or Further Mathematics. There were responses to the first question, regarding additional content, and responses about potential improvements.
Matrices were most commonly suggested as a potentially useful addition to pre-university mathematics, although students who only studied A-level Mathematics often recognized that they would have encountered them in Further Mathematics. In fact, aspects of a number of topics that were frequently suggested by participants are part of the Further Mathematics specification 2 indicated with an asterisk.
With hindsight, participants would have preferred to have studied considerably more calculus and, in particular, a greater amount of advanced differentiation. Frequent suggestions for additional content included partial differentiation, second-order differential equations and multiple integration. Another common topic area was mechanics, although participants predominantly suggested that they would have liked to have studied more units beyond M2 rather than suggesting additional topics.
The most frequently suggested improvement or change which could be made to both A-levels was the introduction of more applied content and, in particular, the use of real-world examples and a greater problem-solving component. Participants perceived the mathematics involved in engineering to be very practical, and to require students to be able to identify a problem before beginning to solve it. Most of those who suggested the greater use of context in A-level Mathematics and Further Mathematics suggested that this would be especially useful with pure mathematics topics, such as calculus, as these topics are currently covered in an abstract or theoretical manner.
It was felt that this would make both A-levels better preparation for university, as it would also encourage greater understanding and independent learning. Additionally, participants perceived there to be specific problems with assessment at A-level. Most participants reported that they had found A-level examinations to be formulaic, repeating similar questions year-to-year and thus leading to an over-reliance on rote-learning from past papers.
The most common suggestion to tackle this was situating questions within an applied context and making them more focused on problem-solving. It was felt that this would be more relevant to the type of mathematics used in undergraduate engineering and would engender more creative thinking. Less frequent suggestions were making questions more demanding, longer and less structured so that students are required to choose their methods of solution. Many participants commented that they would have liked more depth in content overall.
This was especially with reference to core units, and in particular with reference to calculus. Most of these students suggested that greater depth could engender better understanding. In terms of applied units at A-level, the majority of comments focused on mechanics. Most participants suggested that studying more Mechanics units would have been advantageous preparation for undergraduate engineering, rather than having to study Statistics or Decision Mathematics.
However, most of these participants recognized that their ability to choose more advanced Mechanics units was limited by availability of these units at their schools, and consequently advocated greater student unit choice at A-level.
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Only a minority of participants suggested that there should be specific engineering units, introducing more mechanics as well as elements of civil engineering and electronics. Three participants also suggested that there should be more calculus in mechanics units, as this would be more effective preparation for the type of mathematics encountered at university. The data presented here indicate that engineering students find that both A-level Mathematics and Further Mathematics were good preparation for their undergraduate studies.
In particular, students find Mechanics and Further Pure Mathematics units to be especially beneficial preparation, with Statistics or Decision Mathematics of more limited use. These findings are unsurprising, given the overlap in mathematical content of such A-level units and the mathematics studied in first year university engineering courses see Section 1. The participants in this study were very enthusiastic about Further Mathematics, with This is corroborated by the finding that students who had studied more than one Further Pure Mathematics unit were significantly more likely to report that they were glad they had studied Further Mathematics, and that Further Pure Mathematics units had been useful preparation for their engineering degree.
The benefit of studying complex calculus and matrices, as well as mechanics, is that these topics are significant components of first-year undergraduate engineering courses. This is regardless of the specialism that engineering students choose. As an example, for both electrical engineering and mechanical engineering courses 3 at most UK universities, the compulsory first-year mathematics modules cover advanced calculus, matrix algebra and mechanics.
Calculus and matrix algebra are included in the first-year course because they are the primary mathematical concepts in engineering, as they allow real-life problems to be modelled mathematically. Matrices are used to solve problems where there are multiple unknown variables, such as where multiple forces are acting on a bridge, or were there are unknown currents in an electrical circuit. Differential equations allow engineers to produce mathematical models for real-life situations.
Prior experience with these concepts is thus highly beneficial in the transition to undergraduate engineering. The reformed A-level Mathematics will have compulsory mechanics content, although there will be slightly less mechanics content than is presently covered in one Mechanics unit. Moreover, the reforms also mean that prospective engineering students will not be able to study more than the prescribed mechanics content unless additional content is made available in Further Mathematics. Participants who had studied more than two Mechanics units were significantly more likely to report that they were glad they had studied Further Mathematics and that it had been good preparation for their course.
The need for prospective undergraduate engineers to study Further Mathematics is compounded by the fact that matrices will continue to be taught in Further Mathematics only. There will not be a significant change to the level of calculus taught in A-level Mathematics, and therefore students who wish to gain experience of more advanced calculus, especially differential equations, will still need to take Further Mathematics. Although this research has shown that there are clear benefits of Further Mathematics, no engineering department currently formally requires the qualification for entry to its undergraduate courses though A-level Mathematics is compulsory.
This is despite the Institute of Physics report , which found that many engineering undergraduates and academics believed that Further Mathematics should be made a requirement for those wishing to study engineering at university. It is clear that universities are wary about making Further Mathematics a formal entry requirement, due to concerns about widening participation see, for example, the Further Mathematics Support Programme, However, given the clear benefits of the qualification, as well as the significant planned changes in structure and content to both A-level Mathematics and Further Mathematics, universities should consider recommending at least AS-level Further Mathematics to prospective engineering students.
This would give students more accurate expectations of the mathematical demands of undergraduate engineering, and ease the transition to university study. If universities are unable or unwilling to do this, it is especially important that they ensure there are mathematics support measures available for their students.
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The awarding body is University of Southampton. Offers typically exclude General Studies and Critical Thinking. Pass in the associated science Practical is required where applicable. Pass, with 38 points overall with 18 points required at Higher Level, including 6 at Higher Level in mathematics and 6 at Higher Level in physics. Applications where Higher Level subjects have been studied without the full Diploma, will also be considered on a case by case basis.
Students who are highlighted in this way will be made an offer which is lower than the typical offer for that programme, as follows: AAB including mathematics minimum grade A and physics minimum grade A , with a pass in the physics Practical. Offers will be based on exams being taken at the end of S6.
Subjects taken and qualifications achieved in S5 will be reviewed. Applicants are advised to contact their Faculty Admissions Office for more information. D2, D3, D3 in three Principal subjects including mathematics and physics, one of which must be at D2. All applicants must demonstrate they possess at least a minimum standard of English language proficiency.
This is a list of the international qualifications that are recognised by the University of Southampton. If you are not sure that your qualifications meet the requirements of this course please contact our Admissions Teams. This intensive, one-year course will give you the background skills and knowledge to enter into any undergraduate degree in engineering, physics, mathematics or geophysics.
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You might meet our criteria in other ways if you do not have the qualifications we need. Find out more about:. Find out more about our Admissions Policy. Modules in the first 2 years focus on the fundamentals of mechanical engineering. You'll take part in our award-winning induction programme and gain practical experience. Teams of new students work together to design and create. For example, you could take apart and put back together a 4 stroke engine. The first year provides a background in engineering science, emphasising the mechanical engineering aspects.
This includes a workshop training course.