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    (Original post by llys)
    However, it is widely considered a "soft science". (Generally people seem to think if you had any brains, you would have studied Chemistry, Physics or Maths instead.)
    That is the most insane and false statement I've seen in a long time. Soft sciences are psychology, sociology, and the rest of the social sciences, but no one in their right mind would ever consider any of the natural sciences to be a "soft science". For god's sake, even Wikipedia says so! You are under some seriously false impressions here.
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    (Original post by Peregrinum)
    That is the most insane and false statement I've seen in a long time. Soft sciences are psychology, sociology, and the rest of the social sciences, but no one in their right mind would ever consider [biology] a "soft science". For god's sake, even Wikipedia says so! You are under some seriously false impressions here.
    Suit yourself. Or ask chemists, physicists and mathematicians what they really think about biologists.....

    I have a PhD in developmental biology btw, and I work with physicists on a regular basis.........


    BTW: I do not need convincing that biology is valid or interesting - as I said I think it is the most interesting science.

    The irony is that in 50 years many parts of biology will have been taken over by physicists studying living matter. Why "taken over"? Well, because unfortunately, classical biologists do not have the training / transferable skills to unravel the physical principles of life. Which is a shame, because "life" is supposed to be their expertise..

    I can already see this happening where I work. I really do regret not studying physics, it would have given me so much more scope in my biological research. As it is I had to claw myself there step by step and am dependent on arrogant physicists to boot - who (for your information) started out thinking of me as their "experimental slave". Although I think I may have convinced them by now that I do have a brain..
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    (Original post by llys)
    Suit yourself. Or ask chemists, physicists and mathematicians what they really think about biologists.....

    I have a PhD in developmental biology btw, and I work with physicists on a regular basis.........


    BTW: I do not need convincing that biology is valid or interesting - as I said I think it is the most interesting science.

    The irony is that in 50 years many parts of biology will have been taken over by physicists studying living matter. Why "taken over"? Well, because unfortunately, classical biologists do not have the training / transferable skills to unravel the physical principles of life. Which is a shame, because "life" is supposed to be their expertise..

    I can already see this happening where I work. I really do regret not studying physics, it would have given me so much more scope in my biological research. As it is I had to claw myself there step by step and am dependent on arrogant physicists to boot - who (for your information) started out thinking of me as their "experimental slave". Although I think I may have convinced them by now that I do have a brain..
    Apparently you think biology is a soft science because of the condescending and ignorant nature of the physical scientists you work with. My condolences. However, they are wrong and you can't generalize something based on someone's opinion. Do a search on TSR, read the Wikipedia, Google a little... I guarantee you that the opinion of the actual general public is that hard sciences include natural and physical sciences (therefore including biology) and that social sciences are the ones thought of as soft sciences. Undoubtedly there will be a few people who don't share that opinion, but they are the minority.
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    (Original post by Peregrinum)
    Do a search on TSR, read the Wikipedia, Google a little... I guarantee you that the opinion of the actual general public is that hard sciences include natural and physical sciences (therefore including biology) and that social sciences are the ones thought of as soft sciences. Undoubtedly there will be a few people who don't share that opinion, but they are the minority.
    Just to clarify: I do not think Biology is a soft science. I do think Biology is currently taught as a soft science.

    Sorry, but the "actual general public" (as in, most (not all) people who are not natural scientists of whatever persuasion) will consider Maths and Physics more difficult / "harder" than Biology, simply based on their very own experiences at school - no matter what Wikipedia says!

    That has no bearing whatsoever on whether it is true or not. But to be honest I think it is (unfortunately) quite deluded to believe that most people, including most potential employers, will think Biology is as "hard" as other sciences... and employers looking for numerate skills will not consider biologists at all but will consider scientists of other disciplines.

    Of course, if you are looking for a job that doesn't require specific skills, this debate is not even relevant.

    PS, sort of related.
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    (Original post by llys)
    Just to clarify: I do not think Biology is a soft science. I do think Biology is currently taught as a soft science.

    Sorry, but the "actual general public" (as in, most (not all) people who are not natural scientists of whatever persuasion) will consider Maths and Physics more difficult / "harder" than Biology, simply based on their very own experiences at school - no matter what Wikipedia says!

    That has no bearing whatsoever on whether it is true or not. But to be honest I think it is (unfortunately) quite deluded to believe that most people, including most potential employers, will think Biology is as "hard" as other sciences... and employers looking for numerate skills will not consider biologists at all but will consider scientists of other disciplines.

    Of course, if you are looking for a job that doesn't require specific skills, this debate is not even relevant.

    PS, sort of related.
    Well, I'm not from the UK so I don't know how the high school level teaching is over there. Although, I've seen threads on TSR that strongly suggest that physics and sciences in general are being taught "softly" in the UK.

    But that's not the point. We seem to be talking about different things here. I agree that most people are likely to consider math and physics to be more difficult or "hard" when compared to biology, but that's not at all the same thing as hard sciences vs. soft sciences. The term "hard sciences" refers to the so-called "true" scientific disciplines of natural and physical sciences, which biology is undoubtedly a part of. "Soft sciences" refers primarily to social sciences. In this sense there is no question that biology is and will be a hard science, there's no way to argue that. However, what you're saying is that biology isn't as hard as math or physics, but that's a different thing. The fact that biology may not be considered to be as "tough" as physics doesn't make it a soft science (I mean, I consider literature to be more difficult than biochemistry, but there's no way you could say literature is a hard science). You could perhaps say that biology is on a lower pedestal within the order of hard sciences (and this is a statement I can get behind although it may not always hold true since certain biological disciplines cross heavily over into math and physics and difficulty is always subjective anyway). I hope you can see that there is a difference and if your point is that biology may be considered to be somewhat inferior to math and physics (without making it a soft science!) then I think that you're probably right about that.

    PS. Biology being "softer" than physics doesn't necessarily mean studying physics is a better idea. If you want to work in animal conservation, for example, then physics is probably of little use. It all depends on what career direction you intend on taking.
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    (Original post by GottaLovePhysics! :))
    Well thats what I ment by I havnt seen any Unis that I like offer it. Im yet to find a well respected uni that offers it, which is irritating
    st andrews is a very well respected uni!!

    it is notoriously hard to get into though.
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    (Original post by ollie82)
    st andrews is a very well respected uni!!

    it is notoriously hard to get into though.
    My bad! I was confusing it with another uni

    Also, being awkward me, I have actually swung towards studying maths and physics or physics, after a talk with an ex Imperial physics student. Lucky I still have a year to decide because im still undecided!
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    Just to put my two cents in.

    OP, I wanted to study Biology from a mathematical perspective. So, like an idiot, I chose Physics/Maths and then switched to Maths. Now I'm in my 2nd-last year of Maths, and I'm not really liking it any more. It gets pretty abstract, mostly, though there are some courses next year that relate maths to the real world. None of this will probably mean much to you, though, but hopefully this will: do whatever you find most interesting. Really.

    I found it incredibly hard to pinpoint what I found most interesting, but here's an idea. Do you like reading popular science? If you do, what books do you pick up for fun? Stephen Hawking? Brian Green's Elegant Universe? Some mathematical book by Ian Stewart? Or is it something by Richard Dawkins or some book about genes? Which would you read FOR FUN? In my last two years of school, I would read university level Biology textbooks for fun (not cover to cover, but I would dip in). I should have taken that as a hint. It's about what you LOVE. Trust me, if you don't actually love it, even if you find it interesting, you will find it very very hard in your last year or so of uni. I say this as someone who had AAAA at A level. I could have done anything; now I'm scared of not doing well in my degree, and this is solely because I find it so hard to be interested and to work on something I don't much enjoy any more (as I've had too much of it at too high a level). And I LIKED maths at school, quite a lot, found it pretty soothing and appealing.

    Have you looked at Dundee's Mathematical Biology degree? I don't know if it would be cell-type stuff, though, so might not fit what you want. I know Dundee doesn't have the highest ranking, but I do get the sense that Dundee probably takes care of its students better and they have more personal contact with staff than at some "better" unis.

    Have you looked into Scottish unis? They have a 4-year degree system, and in the first two years you can take a variety of courses. I think that would be very helpful, both to allow you time studying both things so that you can choose, and in that if you go with Biology you can have some significant mathematical background behind you (or vice versa). And def. look into Joint Hons. degrees. I don't know if there are any, tho.

    Oh, and I had another idea... Ian Stewart (awesome dude who writes on mathermatics in biology and other places - you should read some popular science by him) is a Professor of Maths at Warwick, and the final-year Maths degree at Warwick has (I believe) quite a few options that relate to Biology.

    I chose mathematics/physics, thinking it gave me more options than biology career-wise, and would enable me to go into biology. I don't think I should have done that. You can come at it from either direction, and it's best to choose the one that you enjoy most. You can catch up on the other skills that you need later on. If you do Biology, though, do try and choose a degree with as much mathematical content as possible.

    My final vote is for one of the Scottish unis, where you have some flexibility.
 
 
 
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