I actually started off as a single-subject Maths student, as Maths was always my favourite subject at school. I decided against Maths and Stats at first because I hated the statistics modules at A-level; they seemed to involve more calculation than thinking! Coming to Oxford, though, I really enjoyed the probability and statistics courses, so I switched degree course at the end of second year (quite a few people do). The thing I enjoy most about Maths and Stats is the balance between doing things rigorously and the real-world application from the statistics side. I also enjoy the computer programming side of the stats courses.
My best experience has been sitting in the café in the Maths Institute building and working on problems with friends—we’re encouraged to collaborate if we’re stuck, and the cakes are delicious.
Although studying Maths and Stats may be more intense and more tiring than studying other courses at Oxford or elsewhere (especially as you might have five or six tutorials per week – with a problem sheet for each tutorial), it’s also a lot of fun. Here, every lecturer has their own style of teaching to fully engage their students. After a probability lecture about Gambler’s Ruin and Random Walk, I immediately went to the library wanting more information on these theories and their applications. If you find something that you are really interested in and try to dig into the problem and learn by yourself, then you’ll fit right in at Oxford!
If you do some statistical research on people’s reaction when they hear that you are studying Maths and Stats, the one that appears most frequently is: ‘What's the difference between a straight Maths course and Maths and Stats course?’ Well, in your first year, you study all the same modules as single-honours Maths students, and, apart from a slight difference in the examinations you sit in second-year, there isn't any difference between the two courses in that academic year either. In third-year, Maths students choose all the options themselves and so, if you do Maths and Stats, you tend to choose lots of Stats and probability based options. Basically, doing Maths and Stats gives you a greater variety of options, and more importantly, a wider range of career choices. Statistics can be applied to a lot of areas like Finance, Medicine, Biology, Psychology, and even Sports and Entertainment – imagine yourself doing statistical work for your favorite football club!
I read some interesting popular maths books, especially those by Ian Stewart—a lot of his stuff’s great, but I particularly liked "Math Hysteria".
Make sure you read the official prospectus entry for the course which contains entry requirements, full course structure, additional interesting resources and full details of the application process.
If you're going to apply, you'll want to check which Oxford colleges offer this course.