Red X iconGreen tick iconYellow tick icon

Study Mathematics at Otago

A short definition of Mathematics would be “the study of quantities and how they are measured, combined, related, and operated upon”.

We use mathematics for practical things like organising the arrival of materials on a building site in order to reduce storage; encrypting and decrypting internet messages; modelling blood flow through a damaged heart; and predicting the break-up of ice floes.

These are all mathematics in action – mathematics making a real difference in the world where we live. Mathematics looks at the distribution of prime numbers, the properties of geometric figures, how dependent variables change, and what happens when you add up infinitely many terms.

Studying these ideas lays the foundation for using mathematics to solve real-life problems.

Ready to enrol?

Get Started

Why study Mathematics?

You build a solid foundation for analysing and understanding the mass of quantitative data that is available these days. You develop problem solving and organisational skills that are highly sought after by  employers. You learn to think both logically and creatively. You discover an amazingly varied and profoundly rich science that has an intrinsic beauty. You get your mind around some of the ancient problems that have fascinated humans for centuries.

Career opportunities

Career options for Mathematics graduates are much wider than you might think. Many students take jobs where mathematics is not the main focus of the business, and yet their mathematical skills are their greatest asset. That is because mathematics and the analytical and logical thinking that it teaches are vital in understanding and solving all manner of quantitative problems, from electricity generation to data  compression, from weather forecasting to the study of bone density loss.

Mathematics graduates, especially those with a well-rounded background in mathematical, statistical, and computer skills, have a qualification that integrates perfectly into the modern, technology-based world.

Applied mathematicians are in demand wherever employers need deterministic models, for example, in seismology and the earth sciences, meteorology, the chemical and forensic industries, health, ecology and conservation, transportation and scheduling, engineering, and computing, to name a few. And for those with both applied Mathematics and Statistics, i.e. a background in both deterministic and stochastic models, one can add to the above list the areas of social science, financial services and insurance, epidemiology, quality assurance, economics, policy, government, and many others.

Mathematics at Otago

Teaching style

Most Mathematics papers at Otago involve several lectures a week, usually 50 minutes long. You need to take notes based on the material presented, although in some papers part of the material is already available in outline notes that are followed closely.

There will also be tutorials that are really advice sessions, where you can go along and ask for help with weekly exercises or with understanding course material. Some papers have compulsory tutorials, others  have open tutorials where you can go as many times as you wish. Apart from the final examination, you are assessed internally based on exercise marks, a mid-semester test, or a series of computer tests. Papers differ but in all cases your internal assessment is an important part of your overall grading.

Background required

If your mathematics background is only to Year 12 or Year 11, you can still progress in Mathematics at Otago by taking MATH 120 Mathematics for Scientists or MATH 130 Fundamentals of Modern Mathematics 1 (a background is NCEA level 2 Mathematics with Calculus is recommended).


Mathematics as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BSc, BCom, BEntr, BHealSc, BACom, BASc or BComSc degree

Available as a minor subject for a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Music (MusB), Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA), Bachelor of Theology (BTheol), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Entrepreneurship (BEntr), Bachelor of Health Science (BHealSc), Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom), Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) or Bachelor of Commerce and Science (BComSc) degree


MATH 130 Fundamentals of Modern Mathematics 1

MATH 140 Fundamentals of Modern Mathematics 2




Two of

COMO 204 Differential Equations

MATH 201 Real Analysis

MATH 202 Linear Algebra

MATH 203 Calculus of Several Variables



One 300-level paper in MATH; or COMO 303; or PHSI 336


Total   90

COMO papers

Paper Code Year Title Points Teaching period
COMO101 2024 Modelling and Computation 18 Semester 2
COMO204 2024 Differential Equations 18 Semester 1
COMO303 2024 Numerical Methods 18 Semester 1
COMO480 2024 Research Project 40 Not offered in 2024

MATH papers

Paper Code Year Title Points Teaching period
MATH120 2024 Mathematics for Scientists 18 Semester 1, Summer School
MATH130 2024 Fundamentals of Modern Mathematics 1 18 Semester 1, Semester 2
MATH140 2024 Fundamentals of Modern Mathematics 2 18 Semester 2
MATH201 2024 Real Analysis 18 Semester 2
MATH202 2024 Linear Algebra 18 Semester 1
MATH203 2024 Calculus of Several Variables 18 Semester 2
MATH301 2024 Introduction to Functional Analysis 18 Semester 1
MATH302 2024 Complex Analysis 18 Semester 2
MATH304 2024 Partial Differential Equations 18 Semester 1
MATH306 2024 Geometry of Curves and Surfaces 18 Not offered in 2024
MATH342 2024 Modern Algebra 18 Semester 2
MATH421 2024 Analytic Number Theory 10 Semester 1
MATH422 2024 Functional Analysis 10 Semester 2
MATH423 2024 Measure and Integration 10 Semester 1
MATH424 2024 Techniques in Applied Mathematics I 10 Semester 2
MATH425 2024 Differential Geometry 10 Semester 1
MATH426 2024 Techniques in Applied Mathematics II 10 Semester 2
MATH427 2024 Advanced Algebra 10 Semester 1
MATH431 2024 Topics in Advanced Mathematics 10 Semester 1, Semester 2
MATH432 2024 Topics in Advanced Mathematics 10 Semester 1, Semester 2
MATH433 2024 Topics in Advanced Mathematics 10 Semester 1, Semester 2
MATH434 2024 Topics in Advanced Mathematics 10 Semester 1, Semester 2
MATH490 2024 Dissertation 40 Full Year
MATH495 2024 Master's Thesis Preparation 40 Full Year

More information

Contact us

Department of Mathematics and Statistics


Studying at Otago

This information must be read subject to the statement on our Copyright & Disclaimer page.

Regulations on this page are taken from the 2024 Calendar and supplementary material.

Back to top