Elementary Mathematics for Biologists

If you didn’t do A-level maths, then this is the course you’ll probably be taking. EMB has been designed to help those who haven’t done things like differentiation and integration before. The great thing about this course is that it allows students with little or no Maths background to do subjects like Chemistry, as well as helping with calculations in Cells practicals. It’s really like doing an A-level in a year, and so the course does have quite a fast pace. It might be useful to refresh yourself with the basics before you come just so you’re not overwhelmed when you get here.

In general students with AS Level maths would find it easier to do EMB than Quantitative Biology, though if motivated it is possible.

There are examples classes every week where you have the opportunity to ask questions about lecture material and have a go at set exercises yourself. The great thing about this subject is that the ‘proper’ mathematicians get two exams at the end of the year, but we only get one!

You may find that the majority of your mates doing Natsci all have A-level maths. Use this to your advantage, as you can ask any one of them about questions you’re stuck on and be sure that they’ll know the answer!

Chemistry can be a bit of a struggle if you’re taking EMB, as the maths is quite challenging if you haven’t done integration before. However, if you still want to do Chemistry then looking at an AS maths textbook before you come will REALLY help in the long run, and you should be able get by just fine.

Supervisions are really the best way to learn how to tackle problems, but there are a couple of textbooks you might find useful.

Foster’s Easy Mathematics for Biologists has lots of examples for you to work through, with answers. It’s good for revision of GCSE and covers some AS material. Cornish-Bowden’s Basic Mathematics for Biochemists is also similar.

Link to course website: http://www.bio.cam.ac.uk/teaching/emb/

The Natural Sciences Society of St John's College