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 Post subject: A level Maths Syllabus
PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2018 9:57 am 
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We were told at a recent 6th form introduction evening that the standard Maths A level did not include anything on complex (imaginary) numbers and that this topic was only covered in Further Maths.

Is this generally the case for all schools and exam boards? I was a bit surprised because we certainly did complex numbers when I was at school and I don't remember it being any more difficult than the other stuff. Also I thought a knowledge of complex numbers was required for a number of degrees like physics and electrical engineering so would anyone considering studying these at university be expected to take a Further Maths A level these days?


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2018 10:05 am 
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Surferfish wrote:
We were told at a recent 6th form introduction evening that the standard Maths A level did not include anything on complex (imaginary) numbers and that this topic was only covered in Further Maths.

Is this generally the case for all schools and exam boards? I was a bit surprised because we certainly did complex numbers when I was at school and I don't remember it being any more difficult than the other stuff. Also I thought a knowledge of complex numbers was required for a number of degrees like physics and electrical engineering so would anyone considering studying these at university be expected to take a Further Maths A level these days?


Actually my DD mentioned this the other day. We’ve talked in the past about what is the square root of minus one with her and how it’s an imaginary number. She had looked through her A level maths text book and couldn’t find any mention of complex or imaginary numbers though. I can’t remember if the text book just covered the y12 stuff though.
Complex numbers are used in engineering, particularly electrical (nit so much in chemical) and while it’s very useful to have F maths for engineering degrees, it isn’t essential. I’d hope that most unis would go over the fundamentals of maths required early on anyway.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2018 10:08 am 
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It's not been in the A level maths specification since at least 2000.

I did suggest to my DS that he looked at complex numbers before he started his Engineering degree ...


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2018 10:28 am 
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Interesting that some universities for physical sciences or engineering focused degree modules recommend that students consider taking certain extra Further Maths modules if they aren't taking Further Maths at A level.

My DS was considering Natural Sciences at Durham and the course tutor strongly recommended this approach. His school was very helpful and managed to help him take 3 Further Maths modules - it couldn't be properly timetabled at A level so he used the Further Maths support web site and some additional lunchtime teaching support and A level course notes etc.

In the end he studied Natural Sciences at Birmingham, but he found the Further Maths modules very helpful for some of his degree modules (e.g. Quantum Physics)


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2018 10:36 am 
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You can't really do that now A levels aren't modular. All DS did was borrow a textbook - the basics aren't that tricky.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2018 10:39 am 
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Guest55 wrote:
It's not been in the A level maths specification since at least 2000.

I did suggest to my DS that he looked at complex numbers before he started his Engineering degree ...


Any idea why it was decided to remove it from the standard maths A level Guest55? Seems a strange decision to me because as you say, the basics aren't that tricky and it is widely used in a number of STEM degree subjects.

If the syllabus was too full wouldn't it have made more sense to drop something less important?


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2018 10:45 am 
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No idea - but you can't really do it justice at A level - a bit like when we taught matrices at GCSE. In Further Maths you can explore more and look at the hyperbolic functions and Differential Equations which involve complex solutions - mathematically it's better than just dipping your toes in.

If I knew someone was doing Engineering then I'd just lend them a book over the summer to do a basic chapter on complex numbers so they'd at least met the idea.


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