Open Search


The magic numbers: unlocking worlds of opportunity with maths

When you think of ‘mathematics’, you might think of arithmetic, complex equations chalked on a blackboard, strings of numbers flowing on a computer screen, or maybe logic puzzles and games.

Mathematics is all of these things and more. In fact, maths is all around us, in just about everything we do.

Mathematics is one of the oldest sciences, dating back thousands of years. It studies numbers, shapes, patterns and their relationships, and is fundamental to human logic and thought.

By applying these intellectual qualities, maths forms the building blocks for everyday life. Our food and drink, tools, technology and appliances, clothes and transport, furniture and buildings, streets and roadways, currency and banks, aeroplanes and satellites — all start with maths, and are products of maths.


Branches of maths

Seven branches of maths study

As well as mathematics itself, practically every science-related high school subject requires you to use it. Each of these subjects strengthens maths skills by applying it to practical areas of study.




Physics uses maths as a tool to answer questions. It shows how matter and energy work, and helps us understand and describe the laws governing the physical universe.




Chemistry uses maths calculations to explore its most important concepts, and maths skills are key to chemistry experiments and understanding how chemical reactions work. 




Biology uses maths to describe different parts of cells, organs and organisms, and how these interact. Maths is also vital to designing biology experiments and understanding data.



Design and technology

Design and technology depends upon maths skills to accurately plan, design and create different products, and to record and explain how solutions work using data.



Information and communications technology

ICT uses maths in applications such as spreadsheets, databases and graphics packages. ICT applications also help with practical maths learning.



Computer scienceBinary mathematics (using just two digits, 0 and 1) is the foundation of modern computers, and is the basis of computer science. This is why maths is important to studying machine learning, software engineering and understanding how computers work.



Why study maths?

Maths is perhaps the oldest science, with the earliest examples of written mathematics dating back to the prehistoric era (around 3000 BC), when our ancestors lived as hunter-gatherers.

Maths is vital to how humans shape, understand and define the world, and forms the basis for every science and scientific method.

When we use maths in a practical way, it’s called applied mathematics. This is where maths skills and methods are used in scientific fields such as physics, engineering, medicine and biology — as well as in business areas such as finance, economics and accounting.

As our technological world becomes more complex, with greater demands from societies and industries around the world, maths and its skills and insights are more useful than ever.


What are maths skills and how are they useful?

From working out finances to measuring spaces and objects, maths skills are important to life and work.

Transferable Skills

What are maths skills and how are they useful?

problem icon


At its root, maths is problem-solving. Studying maths improves mental agility, and the skills and methods you use to analyse a problem, break it down into chunks and present a clear solution. 

predicting icon

Analytical thinking

In looking at solutions to problems, maths also builds analytical thinking. This is the ability to make sense of a maths problem, break it down and analyse its different parts. It not only helps to reach a logical answer — it helps to explain the solution clearly.

creativity icon


In maths, creativity is key to solving problems and experimenting with ideas. Since maths is built from number patterns, creative thinking can help make new connections and discoveries within those patterns.

collaboration icon

Collaboration and communication

In situations where you apply maths to solve a problem (at school and in life), you’ll often work with other people. Teamworking and communication skills are essential to help discuss and analyse problems, share and test ideas, and reach logical solutions.

What careers can you explore through maths?

In a world of numbers, patterns and problems to be solved, maths opens up a world of opportunities. It’s the beginning of many different careers and choices.

  • Science and research
If you love the idea of applied maths, then science and scientific research offers lots of opportunities. Applied mathematicians may find work in all of the sciences, including specialist industry areas such as aerospace engineering, environmental science or biochemistry.
  • Computer science
    Computer science offers many careers for people with maths skills. This includes roles such as artificial intelligence and machine learning engineer, data scientist, full-stack developer, information security analyst, software engineer and systems analyst.
  • Software engineering and development
Roles in software engineering and development require maths skills, and are also in high demand across many industries. Software engineers design and develop entire computer systems, while software developers build specific computer programs and app software.
  • Banking, accounting and finance

    Depending on the type of job and career level, roles in banking, accounting and finance all require a range of maths skills, including mental arithmetic, algebra, trigonometry, statistics and probability.

Remember this is an overview of just some of the industries and areas you might explore with maths. In a world built from numbers, maths opens up an endless world of opportunities.