Essential Concepts for the First Year of Study for BSc Mathematics


  • Alexander Capes Sheffield Hallam University
  • Peter Rowlett Sheffield Hallam University



undergraduate, mathematics education, transition, Further Education, Higher Education


To inform discussion about content for the first year of undergraduate mathematics, a study was completed which reviewed: the A-level Mathematics specification; published literature on the transition from A-level to university mathematics; the second and third year curricula of modules at three English universities with different foci. This aimed to investigate what students might reasonably be expected to have covered when they arrive at university, what happens in practice at the transition to university, and the role of the first year as preparation for later study. Content suggestions focus on calculus, linear algebra and analysis as core topics. There is also evidence of the need to focus on students' understanding of where formulae and solutions originated as well as their ability to produce pieces of academic and mathematical writing. Findings also include suggestion that what happens in the first year, while similar between institutions, does depend on the overall focus of the degree programme.


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