Mathematics University Rankings UK: 2024 Results

In the UK, mathematics is a popular course to study at university, which means a lot of institutions teach it. As a result, some courses will be better than others, which is where the ranking tables become helpful. In this guide, we'll explore that these tables are and look at the results from two of the most popular ranking tables in the UK to see which Mathematics universities are considered the best.

Last Updated: 25th June 2024

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If you’re finding it difficult to find a university that best suits you, you may be researching university ranking tables. These are a great way to easily compile large amounts of data and research into a simple, numerical ranking system. 

Ranking tables are available for all major subjects taught in the UK and base their placements on a variety if factors that would impact a student’s life and studies. However, while these are very useful tools, they aren’t perfect and should be taken with a grain of salt.

In this guide, we’ll explore the two main ranking tables for universities in the UK to see which Mathematics degrees are considered the best. We’ll also see how rankings should best be used to ensure that you make the best decision when picking your university. Let’s begin. 

Who Makes The Mathematics rankings?

Firstly, who actually makes these lists? While there are various different ranking organisations that create lists, there are two in the UK that are more trusted and widely considered than any other; The Guardian and The Complete University Guide. 

While these two are the most popular, they aren’t the only ones available and aren’t definitively correct about their placements. These tables are based on data but this data can be interpreted differently, which is why different tables can have different placements rather than being identical to one another.  

With that being said, let’s take a close look at how each of these organisations create their tables.

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The Guardian Mathematics Rankings

To compile their list of Mathematics courses in the UK, The Guardian uses the following headings:

Guardian score/100 – rating of excellence based on a combination of the other factors.

Satisfied with the course – the rating of the overall quality of the course, given by final-year students in the latest National Students Survey (NSS) given as a percentage.

Satisfied with the teaching – the rating of the quality of teaching on the course given by final-year students in the latest NSS.

Satisfied with feedback – the rating of the feedback and assessment, given by final-year students in the latest NSS.

Student to staff ratio – number of students per member of teaching staff.

Spend-per student/10 – money spent on each student, excluding academic staff costs, given as a rating out of ten.

Average entry tariff – typical UCAS scores of young entrants to the department.

Value-added score/10 – this score compares students’ degree results with their entry qualifications, to show how effectively they are taught – given as a score out of ten.

Career after 15 months – percentage of graduates who find graduate-level jobs, or are in further study at professional or higher education level, within 15 months of graduation.

Continuation – percentage of first-year students continuing to second-year.

The Guardian bases the scores for each of these metrics on data collected from the National Student Survey (NSS) and the universities themselves. While this means that much of the ranking is based on subjective statistics, there is still a level of subjectivity that goes into the data interpretation. However, this doesn’t mean that the table is biased in anyway as there is legitimate reason to view data in certain ways. 

The Guardian Mathematics University Rankings 2024 (Top 20)
The Guardian Mathematics 2024 rankings

The Guardian Mathematics University Rankings 2024

Below are the top 25 entries of The Guardian’s league table, displaying the results for 2024 and a comparison to 2023’s results: 

PostitionUniversityPrevious Position (2023)
1University of Oxford1st (=)
2University of St. Andrews2nd (=)
3Imperial College London3rd (=)
4University of Edinburgh6th (>2)
5University of Cambridge4th (<1)
6London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)7th (>1)
7University College London (UCL)17th (>10)
8University of Warwick8th (=)
9University of Bath10th (>1)
10Lancaster University16th (>6)
11 (=)Aberystwyth University29th (>18)
11 (=)University of Glasgow5th (<6)
13University of Essex26th (>13)
14Swansea University27th (>13)
15Keele University14th (<1)
16Heriot-Watt University22nd (>6)
17University of Plymouth15th (<2)
18University of Bristol12th (<6)
19 (=)Loughborough University13th (<6)
19 (=)Durham University11th (<8)
21University of Southampton30th (>9)
22University of East Anglia28th (>6)
23University of Kent36th (>13)
24University of Stirling9th (<15)
25Liverpool John Moores University37th (>12)

Just like 2023, the University of Oxford was ranked as the best Mathematics university by The Guardian, scoring a perfect 100. Coming fairly far behind in 2nd with a score 93.7 is St. Andrews, which is one of two Scottish universities to appear in the top five. Interestingly, Cambridge only ranked 5th on this list despite the two Oxbridge universities typically sitting next to each other in rankings. 

Three of the major London-based universities appear in the top ten with Imperial, LSE and UCL. The latter saw a major jump in the rankings this year, rising ten places from 17th in 2023. Despite this, King’s College London (sometimes considered a part of the G5 universities) appears at the end of the ranking at 61st. Beyond these, Warwick, Bath and Lancaster round out the bottom of the top ten, two of which are not Russell Group universities.

One thing to note about this ranking table is that the placements have been very volatile, with multiple major rises and falls since 2023. In the top 25, the largest gain was from Aberystwyth University, which rose 18 places from 29th to joint 11th. Meanwhile, the biggest drop came from the University of Stirling, dropping 15 places from 9th to 24th. 

Compared to 2023’s top 25, multiple other universities have either dropped further down the list or have been taken off entirely due to a lack of data or the closure of their Mathematics courses. 

The Complete University Guide Mathematics Rankings

Next up is the Complete University Guide. The table created by this organisation are actually based on similar data to The Guardian and covers roughly the same points, though the perspective and interpretation of these points is somewhat different. 

Overall score – the total score calculated by The Complete University Guide’s independent and trusted methodology.

Entry standards – the average UCAS tariff of new students entering university.

Student satisfaction – a guide to how satisfied students are with the quality of teaching they receive.

Research quality – a measure of the quality of the research undertaken by the university.

Research intensity – a measure of the proportion of staff involved in high-quality research at the university.

Graduate prospects – outcomes – a guide to the success of graduates after leaving university.

Graduate prospects – on track – a measure of whether recent graduates agree that their current activity fits with their future plans.

Complete University Guide has fewer specific categories than The Guardian, but this is largely due to elements of the data being consolidated. As mentioned, the data for these lists is gathered in a similar manner to The Guardian, using data from the NSS and the universities. 

Complete Uni Guide Mathematics Rankings 2024 (Top 10)
The Complete University Guide Mathematics 2024 rankings

Complete University Guide Mathematics University Ranking Table 2024

Below are the top 25 entries Complete University Guide ranking table, displaying the results for 2024 and a comparison to 2023’s results: 

PostitionUniversityPrevious Position (2023)
1University of Cambridge1st (=)
2University of Oxford2nd (=)
3Imperial College London3rd (=)
4University of Warwick4th (=)
5University of St. Andrews5th (<1)
6University College London (UCL)8th (>2)
7University of Bath7th (=)
8London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)6th (<2)
9University of Edinburgh9th (=)
10Durham University11th (>1)
11University of Bristol10th (<1)
12Lancaster University14th (>2)
13University of Manchester13th (=)
14University of Glasgow12th (<2)
15Heriot-Watt University18th (>3)
16Loughborough University15th (<1)
17University of Birmingham20th (>3)
18University of Exeter16th (<2)
19University of Southampton17th (<2)
20Queen’s University Belfast19th (<1)
21University of Leeds26th (>5)
22Aberystwyth University24th (>2)
23Swansea University29th (>6)
24University of Stirling30th (>6)
25University of York21st (<4)

In 2024, the Complete University Guide’s top ten universities are almost identical to the previous year. The only changes are the placements of various universities and the addition of Durham University, which rose one spot to replace Bristol (which ranked 11th this year). 

The top ten here is also identical to The Guardian’s rankings in terms of entries, although placements are somewhat different. The biggest change is that Cambridge performed much better here to achieve the top spot over Oxford. 

Throughout the rest of the top 25, there weren’t many drastic placement changes from last year, with many entries holding their position from 2023. The biggest increase came from both Swansea and Stirling, each rising 6 places, while the biggest drop came from York, falling 4 places to 25th. 

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The Best and Worst UK Universities For Mathematics

Now we’ve seen the rankings, it’s time to look at the tops and bottoms of each list to see which universities were ranked the best and worst. Please bear in mind that, while these universities received these places on the lists, university rankings aren’t a definitive statement of a university’s quality, nor do they provide official titles to said university.  

With that being said, let’s take a look at the top five and bottom five entries of each table: 

Best Universities For Mathematics UK

Between the two lists, we can see a fairly consistent top five. The universities featured are very commonly seen this high in both general and subject-specific rankings, so these lists doesn’t house many surprises. 

Complete University Guide

The Guardian

As you can see, four out of five entries are the same in each list (though with varying placements). The two outliers, Warwick and Edinburgh each ranked highly on the other list too (Edinburgh 9th and Warwick 8th), so the two lists are generally in agreement with the top UK Mathematics courses (this isn’t the case for every subject!). 

Of the placements included here, the main surprise is that Cambridge ranks just 5th on The Guardian’s list despite ranking 1st on Complete Uni Guide’s. Oxford and Cambridge typically stick close together in most rankings, but this shows how differently data can be interpreted by each list maker. 

The twin towers of Hawksmoor's Quadrangle - All Souls College, Oxford

Worst Universities For Mathematics UK

As far as the rankings go, these are the worst universities for Mathematics in the UK. However, it’s important to recognise that these rankings aren’t definitive, partly because the rankings change each year and partly because these rankings don’t paint a full picture of what a course or university is like. 

With that in mind, here are the lowest-ranked Mathematics universities in the UK in ascending order: 

Complete University Guide

The Guardian

As we can see, each list is almost entirely unique, with the University of Hertfordshire being the only entry to appear on both list’s bottom five. Beyond that, the other entires are all very diverse in terms of location. 

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of these rankings is the Guardian’s placement of King’s College London at the bottom of their list at 61st. Despite being considered one of the top universities in London, the university scored poorly, achieving just 32.2/100. KCL was ranked 33rd by Complete Uni Guide which, while still not too high, is far more generous than The Guardians appraisal. 

Which Ranking Table Should I Follow?

Next, let’s tackle the question of which table you should follow. In reality, there isn’t really a set one you should consider over the other because the factors they’re considering are fairly similar. There also aren’t any specific biases or objectives within either ranking body, so neither list is trying to sway you in a certain direction.

That’s not to say that the lists are compiled identically, but the differences are more subtle. Ultimately, The Guardian’s ranking is largely based on student perspective while The Complete University Guide focuses on research, employment and student satisfaction.

While it’s easy to get caught up in trying to attend the highest-ranked university in the country, most universities in the UK teach to a high standard and provide excellent prospects for their graduates. Even lower-ranked universities will still provide you with a good degree, so you should be looking at other factors when choosing you university too. 

For more data-driven decisions, it’s important to review the entry requirements and acceptance rates for your potential universities. Highly ranking universities like Oxford and Cambridge tend to have high entry requirements and low acceptance rates (13.8% at Oxford and 16.6% at Cambridge). 

Beyond the statistics though, you also need to ensure that the university you’ll be attending is somewhere you actually want to live and work. Attending open days is a great way of assessing the area, exploring the facilities and meeting the staff and students there – all crucial elements to consider when picking a university.

Ultimately, it’s all about what you’re looking for from your university experience and beyond, so keep your options open when looking at potential choices.


So while we now know which universities were ranked the best and worst by the major organisation who study these things, we also know that these rankings aren’t the most important thing to consider when choosing our universities. There are other factors that will have a much more direct impact on your application and experience, so you should keep your options open, no matter what the ranking tables say. 

The rankings are good for setting expectations and understanding which universities are popular and offer the best education, but also be aware that these top universities are highly competitive and, in some cases, just not worth it if you don’t appreciate the teaching style, campus or any other aspect of the institution. Make your decision based on what you want and can realistically achieve, and you’ll more than likely find the right fit for you. Good luck!

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