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Part IA Mathematical Biology

mbMathematical Biology is a first year course in the Natural Sciences Tripos. The course is taught by biologists from the Departments of Plant Sciences and Zoology who use mathematics in their research. It is one of two courses in mathematics specially designed for first year biologists.

Mathematical Biology is designed for students who have continued with mathematics during their sixth form (or equivalent) studies, and a certain level of prior knowledge is assumed. For students from England, Wales or Northern Ireland this would most likely have been gained by the study of GCE Mathematics at A Level. Students who have only taken mathematics as far as AS Level would be well advised to carefully consider taking Elementary Mathematics for Biologists.

Experience proves that students with other qualifications can perform very well on this course. In particular students who have studied the International Baccalaureate, Scottish Highers, the German Abitur and other similar qualifications have all performed outstandingly in the past. However students who do not have a thorough grounding in calculus (including differentiation of polynomials and other simple forms such as trigonometric functions; the product and quotient rules; the chain rule; and integration at least as far as integration by substitution and parts) and algebra (including exponentials and logarithms) are unlikely to succeed.

Any student who is concerned about their background should discuss this with their Director of Studies soon after arriving in Cambridge. In borderline cases it is possible that their College will be able to make extra support available (e.g. extra supervisions). Students can also discuss their background with the lecturer and/or practical demonstrators during the first week or two of term. Please note that prior study of statistics is definitely NOT necessary for this course; statistics is less than a quarter of the material you will be learning, and we teach all necessary concepts from scratch.

All biology students must either do one or other of these courses or the mathematics course designed for physical scientists.

Online resources are provided through the CamTools Site. You will automatically be subscribed to this site as part of the NST subject choice procedures but if you join the course after the start of term, send an email to teachco@plantsci.cam.ac.uk requesting that you are added to the course. You will need to use your Raven ID and password to log onto CamTools, which you will also be able to access during the vacation.