Core Mathematics (Mathematical Studies) AQA 1 Year Course (AS Level equivalent)

Why should I study Core Mathematics?

Core Mathematics is a relatively new Level 3 course designed by the Government for a good proportion of sixth form students who are not studying A Level Mathematics or A Level Statistics as one of their 3 (or 4) A Level choices. It is a further course option which would be taken in addition to A Levels in the first year. The qualification has been designed to prepare students for the mathematical demands of study, work and life.

It complements a range of numerate A Level courses (see below for detail) and it builds on work that you have studied at GCSE. The course is quite applied in nature and seeks to teach students new concepts and techniques for solving a variety of both theoretical and "real world" problems. The course supports the following numerate A Level courses very well:

Accounting Electronics
Applied Science (Level 3 Cert/Ext. Cert) Environmental Science
Biology Geography
Business Geology
Chemistry Product Design (Resistant Materials)
Computing Psychology

The course is also useful for those who may wish to study a number of degree courses with mathematical, statistical or numerate elements including Politics or Sociology degrees. However, Core Mathematics is open to any A Level student who wishes to study the course and who has previously achieved grade 4 to 9 in GCSE Mathematics.

Successful candidates gain a Level 3 qualification - which is equivalent to an AS Level at grade A to E. The qualification also carries UCAS points (at the AS Level tariff).


The course will be taught in two 70 minute lessons a week - from September to May in the first year.

All students will study all of the following topics:

  • Analysis of data - data, collecting and sampling data & representing data numerically.
  • Personal finance - numerical calculations, percentages, interest rates, repayments and the cost of credit, graphical representation, taxation & solutions to financial problems.
  • Estimation - the modelling cycle & Fermi estimation.
  • Critical analysis - presenting logical and reasoned arguments in context, communicating mathematical approaches & analytical criticism.

These core topics form approximately two thirds of the course - and the other third is one of the following three options that you must choose:

Option A Statistical Techniques
The Normal Distribution, Probabilities and Estimation, Correlation and Regression
Option B Critical Path and Risk Analysis
Critical path analysis, Expectation, Cost benefit analysis
Option C Graphical Techniques
Graphical Methods, Rates of Change, Exponential Function

Which Core Mathematics option should I choose?

You should make your choice of Option based on the specific A level subjects that you are doing:

Option A If you are studying A level Psychology, Biology, Geography, Geology, Environmental Science, Economics.


Option B If you are studying A level Business Studies, Computing, Product Design, Applied Science, Accounting and any other subject other than those listed.


Option C If you are studying Chemistry or Electronics.

If you do more than one of the above subjects, then make your choice of Option using the following subject precedence:

If Studying

Psychology or Biology or Geography – Choose option A

If not, but studying

Chemistry or Electronics - Choose option C.

If not, but studying

Geology - Choose option A


Business Studies or Computing - Choose option B


Environmental Science - Choose option A

Entry Criteria

Students need to have previously achieved grade 4 - 9 in GCSE Mathematics (or C in IGCSE).

You will need to have a reasonably good working knowledge and grasp of the material that you studied for GCSE Mathematics and good thinking and problem solving skills.

To be successful on this course you will also need to be able to:

Think how to approach problems in unfamiliar situations
Use the many functions on a scientific calculator
Analyse large amounts of information – with written analysis


The subject is assessed by two exam papers taken at the end of the course (in May). Each paper will be worth half of the final mark.

What can I do after studying Core Mathematics?

Core Mathematics is a relatively new sixth form course promoted by the Government and supported by universities and employers. Many degree courses include mathematics or statistics or data handling elements. Employers from all different sectors are also firmly behind the Core Mathematics qualification. Many roles in today’s workplace require high levels of budget management and problem-solving skills; Core Mathematics will be a useful tool in equipping you with these skills. There is a national shortage of people with strong mathematical skills and Core Mathematics will enable you to cope confidently with numerous jobs and higher education courses. This is particularly true of many areas including scientific, technical, financial, and managerial and social sciences.

Further Information

Students will require a more advanced scientific calculator than was used at GCSE level or a graphical calculator. The calculator must have the ability to compute summary statistics and probabilities from the normal distribution.