I'm holding an offer to study Physics and I'd like the opinions of those studying Physics, as well as Nat Sci students who have taken Physics modules. I'd like to know generally what you think of the department and if you've enjoyed your time so far studying Physics.
1. How are the staff? Are they enthusiastic and willing to help? Everyone seemed nice when I went to the open day but of course I only met a small proportion of the staff. Also, what is the workload like and what do you think of the module choices overall?
2. What are the biggest research areas for Durham's physics department? I know Astronomy is one of them but are there others they are particularly strong in?
3. What is the male:female student ratio (approximately)? Is it pretty much 50:50 like the ratio for the university overall?
4. What sort of jobs do Durham physics graduates go into?
Any help/advice is appreciated thanks
Any current Physics/Nat Sci students?


(Original post by vedderfan94)
I'm holding an offer to study Physics and I'd like the opinions of those studying Physics, as well as Nat Sci students who have taken Physics modules. I'd like to know generally what you think of the department and if you've enjoyed your time so far studying Physics.
Okay ill tell you as a Natsci (note I only do the core module, no astronomy/labs)
1. How are the staff? Are they enthusiastic and willing to help? Everyone seemed nice when I went to the open day but of course I only met a small proportion of the staff. Also, what is the workload like and what do you think of the module choices overall?
The staff ranged from good to outstanding, some of them have drop in hours where you can go visit them, others will meet you privately if you ask, the lectuerers are very willing to answer questions at the end. Be warned the workload for physics is very high, per week you will get 01 pre lecture test, 2 online homework problems, 1 paper based problem, 2 tutorial problems. The module is very rewarding but it isnt easy, expect to be challenged from maybe the 2nd week (in hmwkrs), and by the 4th week in lecturers. Note, this is ONLY for Foundation of physics which is 1/3 of the modules in the first year. You will also have maths work to do, Lab work and astronomy (if you choose it)
2. What are the biggest research areas for Durham's physics department? I know Astronomy is one of them but are there others they are particularly strong in?
Yes I also know its very strong in astronomy, from what I know Durham is excellent for polymer research too, but I only know that really by chance.
3. What is the male:female student ratio (approximately)? Is it pretty much 50:50 like the ratio for the university overall?
Completely mixed I would say, perhaps slightly more males but near 50:50
4. What sort of jobs do Durham physics graduates go into?
I know alot go onto masters e.c.t, I don't know much about anything else.
Any help/advice is appreciated thanks 
Doing Physics and Maths Msci Joint honours course.
Physics is a good department imo. I've never really felt the need to use any of the services offered aside from lectures but generally everyone is pretty approachable, has plenty of office hours etc.
I think the workload is fine but a few people complain (this will always be the case though :P). The exams can be a bit painful though, theres a lot of them all at once and they are pretty much the only thing that counts towards my marks.
Research areas will basically mean jack **** to you as an undergrad. Some people like to talk about how its nice to be taught by leaders in their respective fields but in my opinion thats a load of rubbish. Even by the time you have graduated you will still be relatively clueless and the material will still be basic compared to the actual research going on (this is true of all universities) so it's much more important to be taught by good teacher, something which I believe Durham has.
That isn't to say that Durham doesnt have talented researchers etc, the Physics department is really strong overall. Off the top of my head, AtMol is a strong group and the IPPP is meant to be really good too (as well as astronomy which you already mentioned)
Male to Female seems roughly 50:50, I certainly havent noticed a lack of gender diversity at any point.
Not sure about jobs really, it's pretty varied so you probably aren't going to miss out on many opportunities 
(Original post by QuantumOverlord)
Hope this helps.(Original post by Ebd)
x
Also, what do you think of the Foundations 1 module? I noticed that Durham groups almost all of the first year physics theory into one big module, whereas other universities split them up into smaller modules so there are more. What is the stepup in difficulty like from A level to the Foundations 1 module? 
Foundations was fairly doable, the sort of stuff that gets most people is continuous body problems in mechanics (moments of inertia etc), Maxwells integral equations in EM, basically you start doing physics with integral signs which requires a bit of thought when you are setting up questions (the maths is never that hard). Compared to maths modules I've always found physics modules easier but theres certain components of nearly every physics module that require a lot of fact+equation learning which always make them tough exams, especially if you are a slacker on the revision.
Best advice I can give (if you are a bit of a masochist) would be to take Core A rather than Single maths, I seem to remember them allowing physicists to do it (it's a maths dept module but all nat sci's doing maths components take it too). It may seem mad at the time but your first year marks dont matter and the level of knowledge of Linear Algebra Is rediculously helpful for physics modules later (probability is **** though, fairly certain I failed that bit ). I did Core A without having done further maths so its not too bad, it will be more work and make your year harder though so thats up to you :P 
(Original post by vedderfan94)
Thanks for the replies this does help
Also, what do you think of the Foundations 1 module? I noticed that Durham groups almost all of the first year physics theory into one big module, whereas other universities split them up into smaller modules so there are more. What is the stepup in difficulty like from A level to the Foundations 1 module?
(Original post by Ebd)
Foundations was fairly doable, the sort of stuff that gets most people is continuous body problems in mechanics (moments of inertia etc), Maxwells integral equations in EM, basically you start doing physics with integral signs which requires a bit of thought when you are setting up questions (the maths is never that hard). Compared to maths modules I've always found physics modules easier but theres certain components of nearly every physics module that require a lot of fact+equation learning which always make them tough exams, especially if you are a slacker on the revision.
Best advice I can give (if you are a bit of a masochist) would be to take Core A rather than Single maths, I seem to remember them allowing physicists to do it (it's a maths dept module but all nat sci's doing maths components take it too). It may seem mad at the time but your first year marks dont matter and the level of knowledge of Linear Algebra Is rediculously helpful for physics modules later (probability is **** though, fairly certain I failed that bit ). I did Core A without having done further maths so its not too bad, it will be more work and make your year harder though so thats up to you :P 
(Original post by QuantumOverlord)
I would say the step up is far bigger than from GCSEA level, the content you cover will include alot of stuff from A level, however you will do everything very mathematically. For example the mechanics you cover will involve alot of calculus; if you have done M3M5 in school that will help. One thing people seem to find is that there is ALOT of content, so foundations of physics is broken down into Mechanics, Waves and Optics, Thermodynamics, Electromagnetism and Modern Physics. It is not modular though, you are tested on everything.
As someone that took Core A, I would agree with this (though Im only a first year), but be warned it is not a ride in the park. Probability is very tough especially, and unlike this person you will HAVE to do probability in the exams. Doing alot of maths does definately help with physics though, especially getting a feel for vectors, and the extra calculus (most relevant to 1st yeat modules).
Roots of Polynomials
Complex Numbers
De Moivre’s Theorem
Proof by Induction
Finite Series
The Calculus of Inverse Trigonometrical Functions
Hyperbolic Functions
Arc Length and Area of surface of revolution about the xaxis
Series and Limits
Polar Coordinates
Differential Equations
Differential Equations – First Order
Differential Equations – Second Order
Vectors and ThreeDimensional Coordinate Geometry
Matrix Algebra
Solution of Linear Equations
Determinants
Linear Independence 
(Original post by vedderfan94)
Yeah if I go to Durham I think I would pick Core A because I'm interested in physics mainly but also pure maths as well (I applied for Maths and Physics at Warwick) and I'd like more of a challenge too. I've done M1 and M2 but I'm also thinking of teaching myself some more mechanics and further pure modules over the summer as a sort of intro to a physics degree. Which of the following topics (from FP24) would you say are most relevant?:
Ill put a brief explanation of where they lie in the course for each one
Roots of Polynomials Knowledge assumed, some theory in Term 2 Linear Algebra
Complex Numbers
Some Knowledge assumed, complex numbers covered in detail Term 2 Linear Algebra
De Moivre’s Theorem
As above
Proof by Induction
Knowledge of this is generally assumed
Finite Series
As above
The Calculus of Inverse Trigonometrical Functions
This is all assumed, though there is not that much enphasis on it
Hyperbolic Functions
As above
Arc Length and Area of surface of revolution about the xaxis
You will quickly Cover this sort of stuff in Calculus Term 1, some assumed.
Series and Limits
Limits is very heavily done in term 1 Calclus, alot of series stuff is assumed.
Polar Coordinates
Covered almost in the first lecture, most is assumed
Differential Equations
Differential Equations – First Order
You will need to know how to separate variables, other than that it is all covered in more detail and rigour than at A level
Differential Equations – Second Order
Covered in term 1, again alot more content and rigour
Vectors and ThreeDimensional Coordinate Geometry
Done to death in Linear Algebra term 1
Matrix Algebra
As above
Solution of Linear Equations
As above
Determinants
As above
Linear Independence
As above 
I've absolutely loved it. I'm about to graduate this year, and will be so so sad to leave.
The staff are really helpful, and my supervisors have been so keen to write any references I needed, or help out with work/'personal development' type stuff. There's always someone you can go to when you get stuck in your revision.
Durham, like everyone's already said, is very strong in astro, particle physics.. and I don't know much about it but I've heard AtMol is pretty well regarded too.
The workload is fairly high, but I think you'll find that with any top University for Physics, and hey, I've managed and still had plenty of time to join societies and have fun
TAKE THE OFFERRRR!
Oh and if I were you, if you do go for it, just take the single maths modules, not core A and core B  they made my first year life so much more difficult than it needed to have been. I didn't really gain anything by doing the 'harder' maths, just a lower grade than friends who took the Physics maths. 
Oh I just saw your other questions.. male to female ratio, I'd say female 30% or something. But it's not like that's been a problem at all, and there were plenty of girls in my college who made up my main friend group. Most of my physics friends are boys but whatever, we have lots of fun
As for jobs.. I'll let you know! I'm probably going to do a PhD and then see what happens down the line with that.
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