Starting your degree - Prospective Students - Mathematics and Statistics - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

First year courses explained


Which mathematics course to start with for recent school leavers beginning a science degree.

artists interpretation of the Erskine building The core of the 100-level (i.e. first–year) programme consists of linear algebra and calculus, contained in the two papers MATH 102 and MATH 103. MATH 102 is required for students intending to major in Economics, Finance or Operations Research, and is strongly recommended for students aiming to major in Management Science.

MATH 103 follows on from MATH 102 and has MATH 102 as a prerequisite. Anyone wanting to do a significant amount of Mathematics in their degree should take both MATH 102 and MATH 103. As well as students majoring in Mathematics, this includes students aiming to major in subjects like Astronomy, Computer Science, Electronics, Physics or Statistics.

We advise those who have a weak maths background or haven’t studied maths for some time to take the preparatory paper MATH 101, to be followed by MATH 102 (and maybe MATH 103) if appropriate (see Recommended preparation for first-year courses). MATH 101 aims to raise the technical and understanding levels of students who lack confidence in their mathematical skills.

MATH 120 is designed as an additional paper for students who are interested in the structure and logic of Mathematics. It is strongly recommended for students majoring in Mathematics, Statistics or Computer Science.

MATH 130 is a course on logic that is taught by both Mathematics and Philosophy staff and is strongly recommended for students majoring in Philosophy.

MATH 170 provides an introduction to mathematical modelling and computation. It complements the other 100-level courses in the mathematical sciences and is suitable for students interested in applied mathematics. MATH 170 is strongly recommended for students wishing to major in Astronomy, Electronics, Mathematics or Physics.


lecture displaing an overhead slide Many students need Statistics to support their studies in other subject areas, such as Computer Science, Economics, Finance, Forestry, the Life Sciences, Management, the Physical Sciences and the Social Sciences. Others will wish to do a substantial amount of Statistics in their undergraduate programme.

STAT 101 is our first–year course in Statistics. It will give you a sound basic knowledge of the subject and a good grounding in how Statistics is applied to tackle genuine problems. You can enter our 200-level statistics courses from STAT 101.

Engineering Mathematics

Which engineering mathematics course to start with for recent school leavers beginning an engineering degree.

In addition to courses in Mathematics and Statistics, the School offers a range of 100-level Engineering Mathematics (EMTH) courses. These are intended for students doing an Engineering intermediate year, which is a prerequisite for enrolling in a professional Engineering programme. Contact the College of Engineering for course advice for your intermediate year.

Direct Entry

Students who have achieved very highly at NCEA Level 3 in mathematics with calculus and/or statistics and modelling (i.e. passed most achievement standards with an Excellence grade) should consider direct entry into MATH 103 (or EMTH 119 for Engineering intermediate year students) or 200-level Mathematics and Statistics courses. For more information on these options, please contact Dr Peter Renaud.

Students who have been credited with the STAR course MATH 199 are eligible for direct entry into 200-level mathematics courses, and should typically take mixture of 100-level and 200-level courses in their first year at university.

Need further advice?

Finally, if you feel you need further advice on which are the best courses for you, we are always happy to help out. Please call into reception on Level 4 of the Erskine building, or email, and you will be directed to a staff member who can advise you.