kennz
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Hi,
I'm in my first year of my A levels and I was wondering if it was worth it to do a specified physics degree in an area I want to work in, in the future or whether its better to do a standard physics degree.

I would like to become a physicist specifying in particle physics and I currently like the look of Surrey University and Sussex university. However, they do not offer degrees specifying in particle physics whereas Queen Mary's and Royal Holloway do. I've done some research and I don't think the modules differ that much between doing a specified degree and a standard degree for these universities.

So, is it worth doing a specified physics degree.
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Schadenfreude65
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You can usually switch between courses up until the end of your second year, as everybody studies the same core modules (typically for the first 3 semesters) so it doesn't actually matter too much whether you select particle physics or a standard physics degree on your application. However, if you are pretty sure that particle physics is your thing, it's definitely worth applying to universities that offer specialisation in that area, as you may have the opportunity to do research projects with people who are working in that field. This is particularly important if you are planning on doing an MSci / MPhys rather than a BSc.
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pianofluteftw
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Take into account whether or not the university has modules available in the particular topic, but also bear in mind that what you like now (whilst you're still at school and are realistically not very far into your physics education) will probably change. What you learn at school is VERY different to what you learn at uni, especially in things like particle physics. Also don't think that you will automatically really love/hate theoretical/experimental any other part of Physics as you learn so much more at university in a very different way and in far more detail and most people end up changing their minds. My advice would be to go for a course that is at a reputable university in a place you like, with a good range of modules in the first two years and which cover a wide breadth of Physics (firstly it helps you decide what you want to specialise in, which in all likelihood will change and secondly it gives you a really good grounding in Physics that will help no matter what area you end up going into). I know almost no one who likes the same things they thought they liked at AS level, so don't necessarily limit your options at this stage. Also taking a more general degree is probably the best idea in case you completely change your mind and end up really not enjoying Physics as much as you thought you might (happens to a LOT of people), as it makes you more employable
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QuantumOverlord
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(Original post by pianofluteftw)
Take into account whether or not the university has modules available in the particular topic, but also bear in mind that what you like now (whilst you're still at school and are realistically not very far into your physics education) will probably change. What you learn at school is VERY different to what you learn at uni, especially in things like particle physics. Also don't think that you will automatically really love/hate theoretical/experimental any other part of Physics as you learn so much more at university in a very different way and in far more detail and most people end up changing their minds. My advice would be to go for a course that is at a reputable university in a place you like, with a good range of modules in the first two years and which cover a wide breadth of Physics (firstly it helps you decide what you want to specialise in, which in all likelihood will change and secondly it gives you a really good grounding in Physics that will help no matter what area you end up going into). I know almost no one who likes the same things they thought they liked at AS level, so don't necessarily limit your options at this stage. Also taking a more general degree is probably the best idea in case you completely change your mind and end up really not enjoying Physics as much as you thought you might (happens to a LOT of people), as it makes you more employable
This is sound advise. What I would add is that a lot of physics courses (if not the vast majority) do offer modules in particle physics (often from 3rd year onwards) anyway.
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kennz
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thanks for the advice guys, really helpful 😊. Do you know anyone whos been to surrey queen marys or royal holliway? What are your opinions on them?
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Schadenfreude65
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I've just finished first year at Royal Holloway. It's a very friendly department, where you actually get to know the lecturers and students from other years. Tutorial groups are small - usually three students per group, and the lecturers are very approachable if you need extra help with anything. It has a better gender balance than many physics departments - about a third of the students are female.
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pianofluteftw
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(Original post by QuantumOverlord)
This is sound advise. What I would add is that a lot of physics courses (if not the vast majority) do offer modules in particle physics (often from 3rd year onwards) anyway.
(Original post by kennz)
thanks for the advice guys, really helpful 😊. Do you know anyone whos been to surrey queen marys or royal holliway? What are your opinions on them?
^ This too. In fact, you have to do some particle Physics as part of any degree with 'Physics' in the title, as they have to be approved by the Institute of Physics which sets a list of certain topics that have to be covered at some point. Pretty much all universities will offer modules about particle physics though - it's a pretty major topic and doesn't need specialists to teach. This year (third year) I had a module that was pretty much all particle Physics. It's also worth bearing in mind a) you wont have come across anywhere near as many topics as Physics has to offer yet, so something else may capture your interest and b) I, as someone having studied 3 years of Physics at uni level probably have a very different idea of what particle physics is compared to you. What bits of it do you like and why? It's probably easier for us to help if we know where you're coming from

I know someone who is at Royal Holloway, although not doing Physics and they really like it. I also know someone who went to Queen Mary's (for Biochem) and they also liked it. Surrey seems like rather a different option to the other two - is being in central London/ near to London important to you?
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kennz
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(Original post by pianofluteftw)
^ This too. In fact, you have to do some particle Physics as part of any degree with 'Physics' in the title, as they have to be approved by the Institute of Physics which sets a list of certain topics that have to be covered at some point. Pretty much all universities will offer modules about particle physics though - it's a pretty major topic and doesn't need specialists to teach. This year (third year) I had a module that was pretty much all particle Physics. It's also worth bearing in mind a) you wont have come across anywhere near as many topics as Physics has to offer yet, so something else may capture your interest and b) I, as someone having studied 3 years of Physics at uni level probably have a very different idea of what particle physics is compared to you. What bits of it do you like and why? It's probably easier for us to help if we know where you're coming from

I know someone who is at Royal Holloway, although not doing Physics and they really like it. I also know someone who went to Queen Mary's (for Biochem) and they also liked it. Surrey seems like rather a different option to the other two - is being in central London/ near to London important to you?
i like particle physics because its the thing that got me interested in physics in the First place. The worst part for me is material physics, its so dry. Although, i havent done much physics about fields or superconductors yet and yh i know theres loads more physics to explore.

i'd prefer not to live in central London tbh, the housing costs are so high. I went to Royal holloway yesterday and It was really nice and has a very good department for particle physics as they have research connections with CERN. Surrey and Royal.Holloway are both about an hour from me. I will be visiting Surrey in a couple of weeks and queen marys this week
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pianofluteftw
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(Original post by kennz)
i like particle physics because its the thing that got me interested in physics in the First place. The worst part for me is material physics, its so dry. Although, i havent done much physics about fields or superconductors yet and yh i know theres loads more physics to explore.

i'd prefer not to live in central London tbh, the housing costs are so high. I went to Royal holloway yesterday and It was really nice and has a very good department for particle physics as they have research connections with CERN. Surrey and Royal.Holloway are both about an hour from me. I will be visiting Surrey in a couple of weeks and queen marys this week
Cool, if it's something that got you interested in Physics it's definitely worth pursuing to an extent, but as I say I wouldn't narrow down your options too much. The extent to which you cover stuff at school/ can realisticially cover from wider reading etc. is a lot less than you'll learn at uni, so your ideas can change. This often happens with subjects at A level that you learn about mostly in terms of concepts and ideas, whereas when you get to uni you have to do all the maths which can change your idea of a topic really quickly! It's great you're interested in the subject though - it really is a fascinating topic and degree You'll probably find that as you learn more you get excited about new and cool stuff too which is one of the best bits about it - I mean relativity and Quantum are pretty awesome (and even better when you learn how to prove them!)

Visiting the places I think is really important. Basically the advice I think is best for people is to choose a well respected uni that offers a course you like the look of, but also really importantly that you like the uni itself. You're going to be there for 3/4 years so it's really important you like the place, as if you don't no matter how good the course is you'll end up less interested. Good luck though!
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kennz
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(Original post by pianofluteftw)
Cool, if it's something that got you interested in Physics it's definitely worth pursuing to an extent, but as I say I wouldn't narrow down your options too much. The extent to which you cover stuff at school/ can realisticially cover from wider reading etc. is a lot less than you'll learn at uni, so your ideas can change. This often happens with subjects at A level that you learn about mostly in terms of concepts and ideas, whereas when you get to uni you have to do all the maths which can change your idea of a topic really quickly! It's great you're interested in the subject though - it really is a fascinating topic and degree You'll probably find that as you learn more you get excited about new and cool stuff too which is one of the best bits about it - I mean relativity and Quantum are pretty awesome (and even better when you learn how to prove them!)

Visiting the places I think is really important. Basically the advice I think is best for people is to choose a well respected uni that offers a course you like the look of, but also really importantly that you like the uni itself. You're going to be there for 3/4 years so it's really important you like the place, as if you don't no matter how good the course is you'll end up less interested. Good luck though!
thank you for the sdvice 😊
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