LC Polymaths

If you want to study mathematics at degree level but don’t have the necessary qualifications, the Polymaths IMA Certificate could be the solution. This nationally recognised course is of A-level standard, and is similar to an access course, providing an alternative route into a range of mathematics and engineering-related degrees.


Key information



Mode of Study:



1 year


University of Bolton

Start date:


Course Details

The Institute of Mathematics and its Applications Polymaths Certificate has been taught at the University of Bolton for more than 30 years. It’s ideal if you’d like to study an honours degree in a mathematics or engineering-based subject but don’t have the necessary A-levels. It has a proven history with many successful students progressing to undergraduate courses and going on to gain good honours degrees.

It’s designed to provide an overview of the mathematics discipline and prepare you for degree-level study. The course covers a range of subjects, including number systems, functions and their graphs, elementary abstract algebra, and differential and integral calculus.

This course requires regular commitment twice a week - classes are taught in the evening in relatively small groups of between 20 and 30 students. Informal and interactive, lessons involve lots of student participation and discussion of the course materials. You’ll be guided in the programme towards the development of subject-specific skills, such as understanding abstract concepts and being able to clearly present mathematical arguments, and assessed through short tests, exams and a project of your choice.

  • The Polymaths course has a long and successful history at the University of Bolton, having been taught by our faculty for more than 30 years.
  • Lessons are conveniently held twice a week in the evening over a one-year period. The programme has an informal structure of interactive lessons, taught in groups of between 20 and 30 students.
  • This course is especially suitable for students who have been away from education for some time.
  • On successful completion of the course, you’ll be awarded a Certificate in Polymaths from the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA).
Key Features
  • Our mathematics degrees are ranked top in the North West and third in the UK for student satisfaction by The Complete University Guide 2020 and you can be assured that we offer the same high standards of tuition and pastoral care to our Polymaths students.
  • The course focus is pure mathematics supported by some studies using the computer algebra system Maple.
  • Course topics include algebraic techniques, number systems, mathematical functions, calculus, set theory and logic.
  • After successfully completing the Polymaths Certificate of the IMA with the required score, you may progress on to one of a range of BEng (Hons) and BSc (Hons) degree courses at the University of Bolton. Please contact the programme leader for details and to find out more about how we can support your ambitions.

Where changes are made to material information contained in this course description or a decision is taken to suspend a course between the offer of admissions and enrolment, we will inform applicants at the earliest possible opportunity and will outline the various options available to the applicant.

The Polymaths course provides an excellent foundation for degree subjects that require a good knowledge of mathematics. It’s especially suitable if you aspire to become a mathematician, mathematics teacher, civil engineer, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, biomedical engineer or software engineer.

Studying the Polymaths Certificate helps to develop skills and knowledge that are in high demand. On completion of the course, successful students will be able to demonstrate the ability to manage their time effectively in order to meet deadlines, convey information with clarity, organise workloads, problem solve, and work methodically and accurately.

What can I do with this qualification?

The Polymaths Certificate is primarily designed for people who wish to progress to study at undergraduate level, especially in subjects that require A-level Mathematics. Many of our successful Polymaths students take up our offer of a guaranteed place on one of a range of mathematics and engineering related degrees offered by the University of Bolton. As a holder of the Polymaths Certificate, you’ll have proved your ability to study at Level 3 (A-level standard) and demonstrated your commitment and ‘staying power’. This will make you attractive to university admissions officers in a huge range of subject areas, as well as employers in many industries.

Alternative career options

Assuming you choose to complete a degree with a high-mathematical content after completing the Polymaths Certificate, you would be able to consider a range of other careers. As well as an appropriate undergraduate degree, both relevant experience and/or postgraduate study may be required for some of the alternative careers listed below:

  • Teaching and education
  • Civil engineering
  • Software engineering
  • Electrical and electronics engineering
  • Biomedical engineering
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Automotive engineering and motorsport technology
  • Computing
  • Accountancy
  • Business management
  • Finance and banking
  • Psychology
  • Aerospace engineering
  • Marine engineering
  • Statistics and data modelling
  • Epidemiology
  • Economics
  • Insurance underwriting
  • Business analysis
  • Quantity surveying
  • Tax advising
  • Pensions consultancy
  • Scientific research and development
  • Management consultancy
  • Public administration
  • Market research
  • Auditing
  • Retail
  • Purchasing
  • Investment banking
  • Stocks and shares
  • Credit and investment analysis

Course fees

Home students starting this course in the first year will be required to pay a Home fee of £20 for the academic year 2021/22.

Home students starting this course in the first year will be required to pay a Home fee of £875 for the academic year 2021/22.

Important note regarding tuition fees for the 2021-2022 academic year: EU nationals who meet residency requirements (have settled or pre-settled status) may be eligible for ‘Home’ fee status. If you do not meet these residency requirements, overseas fees will apply. Irish citizens living in the UK or Ireland will be eligible for ‘Home’ fee status under the Common Travel Area arrangement. Please read the student finance eligibility 2021-2022 policy on for information.

The fees for a student’s course of study will be set for the normal duration of that course subject only to inflationary increases – measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) recorded in March each year to take effect for subsequent start dates.


Click here for more information about the scholarships and bursaries available to University of Bolton undergraduate students.

For details of how to apply for this course, please choose your status from the options below:

You may apply directly to the University using the University's online application form. Please select your chosen start date from the list below:

You should have to hand:

  • Details of the educational establishments you attended and dates

  • Your certificates for the qualifications you are using to gain entry to the course – you will need to enter the completion date and upload copies

  • Details of any employment history including name, address, dates and role

  • Personal statement – this can be either input into the relevant field or uploaded separately

  • Details including e-mail addresses of two referees, at least one of which should be someone who can provide an academic reference

Please make sure any documents you wish to upload in support of your application are in pdf or jpeg format. Personal statements may be word documents.

Please ensure your data is correct at each stage of the application before you proceed to the next page. If you use the back button at any time during the application, you should check the validity of the data you have already input.

If you experience difficulties during the application process, contact the Admissions Team on 01204 903394 or

International applications are not possible for this course

As an international student you are not allowed to study this course because of the restrictions on your visa.

We offer a wide range of full-time courses in lots of different subjects, many of our courses start in September and January. If you would like to see what courses are available please visit our Course Search.

The Polymaths Certificate of the IMA is delivered via informal, interactive twice-weekly lessons held in the evening. Sessions are tutor-led and are approximately two-and-a-half hours in length. You’ll be encouraged to ask questions and invited to join in discussions during these lessons. Split into six sections, the programme comprises four areas of content, which are supplemented by a computer algebra unit and a project.

You’ll be expected to complete a number of short tests in your own time based on week-by-week learning of the set course books. Additionally, you’ll sit a time constrained open-book in class test for each book. There’s a long test on computer algebra, which is not time-constrained – this is completed in lesson time and includes tutor support.

You’ll also be expected to complete a project on a mathematical topic of your choosing, receiving guidance from tutors – restriction on the nature of the project is kept to a minimum. The IMA Polymaths Certificate is issued on the condition that you achieve at least 700 marks out of a total 1,200 for the entire course.


The university will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver your course as described in its published material and the programme specification for the academic year in which you begin your course. The university considers changes to courses very carefully and the university will minimise any changes. Please be aware that our courses are subject to review on an ongoing basis and changes may be necessary due to legitimate staffing, financial, regulatory and academic reasons. The content of course modules and mode of associated assessments may be updated on an annual basis. This is to ensure that all modules are up-to-date and responsive to employment and sector needs. The published course material and the programme specification contain indicative ‘optional modules’ that may be subject to change due to circumstances outside of our control. For this reason, we cannot guarantee to run any specific optional module.

The academic staff detailed above teach across a range of courses in this subject area and may not teach on this course specifically.

Programme Contacts

Michael Butler
Programme Leader

+44 (0)1204 903634

Jonathan Kelly
Admissions Tutor and Deputy Programme Leader

+44 (0)1204 903134

Enquiry Team
University of Bolton

+44 (0)1204 903903


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Help Centre

We have the answers to your questions, find all the advice and support in one place.

Part of the University of Bolton Group

Bolton college
Alliance learning
Anderton centre2
RiSE pos rgb logo
TEF Silver QQA Scheme Participant