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Put off physics

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    Hello all,

    I am a current year 12 student nearing the end of my first year of A-levels and am in search of some advice. I recently went to an HE day and at the physics talk it was suggested that a reasonably substantial element to most courses was lab-work and practical. This has since put me off the idea of studying physics, especially as I was more inclined to pursue a degree in mathematics before this.

    Are there any current physics undergraduates who could inform me of the course content at their universities, maybe even divulge a bit on the non-lab course content (I know universities list their topics but I wouldn't mind some more detail)?

    Maths is the subject I am most passionate about but I feel I would be missing something if I did not study physics. Although I am aware that it is possible to study physics 'and' maths or physics 'with' maths but doing one or the other seems better to me (though perhaps you can convince me otherwise).

    My A-levels are maths, further maths, physics and Spanish if it is any help.

    Thanks in advance,

    Prospective student.
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    Do a Maths degree. At Cambridge you can specialise in theoretical physics by your 3rd year with a Maths degree. Physics is 100% maths at that level.

    Moreover, a maths degree is extremely versatile and opens doors into finance too, which is where all the money's at.
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    (Original post by Malabarista)
    Hello all,

    I am a current year 12 student nearing the end of my first year of A-levels and am in search of some advice. I recently went to an HE day and at the physics talk it was suggested that a reasonably substantial element to most courses was lab-work and practical. This has since put me off the idea of studying physics, especially as I was more inclined to pursue a degree in mathematics before this.

    Are there any current physics undergraduates who could inform me of the course content at their universities, maybe even divulge a bit on the non-lab course content (I know universities list their topics but I wouldn't mind some more detail)?

    Maths is the subject I am most passionate about but I feel I would be missing something if I did not study physics. Although I am aware that it is possible to study physics 'and' maths or physics 'with' maths but doing one or the other seems better to me (though perhaps you can convince me otherwise).

    My A-levels are maths, further maths, physics and Spanish if it is any help.

    Thanks in advance,

    Prospective student.
    Physics is an experimental subject and as such all courses will contain a substantial amount of Lab work. Experiment is how we verify whether a theory holds any merit or not, all the theories that you will have learnt are only considered "correct" once they have been proven to give correct predictions by experiment.

    I don't think that this alone should put you off, but the nature of the lab work in some courses can certainly be rather tedious and demoralising. It's nothing like lab work you will have experienced at school however, experiments are done in a rigorous way.

    If however it is a complete turn off for you then a physics course is not something you will enjoy.


    On the other side of the fence, do note that maths becomes MUCH more abstract at degree level than it is in school, it's quite a different beast. Noticeably, much of it have absolutely no grounding in reality and this can make it very hard to conceptualise for many people, so make certain you really like the abstract elements of maths before you set yourself on that path.


    Combined Physics and Maths courses are available at a lot of universities. These may be what you're looking for because they are less abstract than pure maths, but also more theoretically focused than physics courses.
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    Thank you for the responses, I suppose I will have to make my mind up this summer in order to have time to research courses and write a good PS.
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    As has already been said Physics involves a significant amount of Lab work. I do EE and that also has a crazy amount of Lab. But all sciences and engineering to my knowledge have a lot of lab work.

    Maths is purely theory and so is good if your not interested in coursework or writing reports. You still have to write essays, depending where you go, but they are rarely assessed.

    Of course don't take Maths unless you enjoy it and are very competent, otherwise you might regret such an uphill struggle!
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    How about theoretical physics? Little to no lab work as far as I understand.
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    (Original post by Malabarista)
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    I urge you to hold your horses until year 13.
    Year 12 physics is a pile to ****. Everyone knows that. Year 13 is when you do a lot of particle physics, harmonics and space stuff. It's shed loads more fun and mind-opening material than mechanics and electricity in year 12.

    Also, as others said, most physics degrees are >90% maths anyway. What you choose to do with your degree afterwards is up to you.
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    (Original post by tamimi)
    Year 13 is when you do a lot of particle physics, harmonics and space stuff. It's shed loads more fun and mind-opening material than mechanics and electricity in year 12.
    That very much depends on the exam board. I have absolutely no astrophysics in my whole A-level physics, and particle physics/harmonics is all in AS for my exam board.
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    (Original post by hassi94)
    That very much depends on the exam board. I have absolutely no astrophysics in my whole A-level physics, and particle physics/harmonics is all in AS for my exam board.
    That's unfortunate. I did Edexcel which was faiiiirly decent in terms of content. Bit more difficult than some other boards according to some teachers.

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