Mathematics and its Impact on Society

Module code: MA1257

This module explores the relationship between mathematics and society through a series of case studies detailing particular examples of areas of mathematics that were developed to meet specific needs of society. One of these areas will be exemplified through a field trip, such as a trip to Bletchley Park to see how mathematics has been used for encryption and code breaking. Most of the class hours are taken up with a discussion of these case studies. The case studies will select areas that illustrate the relationship between mathematics and society, such as:

  • Mayan counting systems and calendars
  • Projective geometry and art
  • Codes and code breaking
  • Chaos theory

There will be illustrations of both ‘practice into theory’ (finding mathematical solutions for existing practical applications, such as projective geometry, probability theory, the calculus and statistics) and ‘theory into practice’ (finding practical applications for mathematical concepts derived from theoretical considerations for their own sake, such as complex numbers and primes).


  • 17 hours of lectures
  • 5 hours of seminars
  • 3 hours of demonstration
  • 125 hours of guided independent study


  • Exam (50%)
  • Coursework (50%)