Mathematical Biology

Mathematical Biology is one of 3 maths options, and is the most biological one of them all. The main point to put across is that MB is by no means an easy option. Perhaps confusingly, MB is portrayed as being at a level lower than Mathematics for Physical Scientists. However, this isn’t really true.

The main difference is, of course, that it takes a much more Biological approach. If you’re doing mainly biological options, then this course is the perfect Maths option. MB is essentially applying mathematical models to biological situations, especially growth and decline of populations, using a variety of mathematical techniques that you learn over the course such as matrices and analysing coupled differential equations, with a bit of stats thrown in for fun times! You’re always reminded the reason why you’re doing the Maths, for example how it is used in Biology, which may make it more bearable. If you’re interested in thinking about Maths from a different perspective, rather than being a keen pure mathematician, then MB is probably for you.

The probability and statistics parts of the course is very useful for some parts of the biological course in the 2nd and 3rd years, especially Ecology and Psychology. Although many will say Maths A is just as viable an option for biologists, bear in mind that you miss out on a substantial amount of statistics which is often necessary for experimental and project work in biology. Not all 2nd and 3rd year biological subjects will provide complementary statistics classes.

There’s a weekly computer practical (using MATLAB or R to model/solve biological problems) and two of these are assessed.

You don’t ever really need any books for MB, maybe bring some books from A-level to help you a bit, but it’s all in the lecture notes.

Link to course website: https://www.biology.cam.ac.uk/undergrads/nst/courses/mb

The Natural Sciences Society of St John's College