i want to become an astrophysicist. what university/ degree / a-levels are required to fulfill this desire. i am quite good at both physics and maths. is it a good job? is it interesting? is it worth taking? thx
- Thread Starter
- 10-04-2013 17:04
- 10-04-2013 17:11
What degree? I would have thought that would be pretty damn obvious: Maths, Physics, or a combination thereof. Astrophysics degrees are a thing too.
What A-levels? Once again, the average 12-year-old could have told you: Maths and Physics will be essential. On top of that, Further Maths will be highly desirable at the top universities, and Chemistry would probably be useful for you too.
What university? There is no specific World University of Physics. Just get into a good one. The better the university, the better your job in Astrophysics is likely to be.
In the UK, Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial stand out as the top three in this area. Other top universities include UCL, Durham, Bristol and Warwick, although this list is by no means exhaustive.
Obviously with Cambridge you would have to go via Natural Sciences, ideally doing Part IA Mathematics with Physics, followed by Part II Physics.
If you want to go abroad, then ETH Zürich in Switzerland is outstanding for Physics, along with the top US universities. MIT, Caltech and UC Berkeley are strong for Mathematics and Physics, and you can't exactly go wrong with Stanford/Yale/Harvard/Princeton.
However, given that you asked me what degree you'd need to go into Physics, I question your ability to get into these universities.
Instead, I hear that Central Lancashire were ranked sixth in the country in Mathematics by the Guardian this year (impressive, given that their world ranking is outside the top 500).Last edited by Upper Echelons; 10-04-2013 at 17:30.
- 12-06-2013 16:54
As above, Maths and Physics are the two essential A-levels, it is likely that any UK Russell group university will demand at least an A if not A* in both of these.
Having just finished second year of a masters phys/astro degree I'd say chemistry definitely makes the understanding of certain concepts a lot easier in first and second year.
Personally I didn't take further maths and it didn't hinder me too much, since most of the first few weeks is just a condensed review of the further maths A-level anyway.
As for places to study, there is an abundance of top class astro departments in the UK, get yourself to some open days and have a look around. Outside of oxbridge, warwick, imperial etc. there is also manchester which can boast having the third largest radio telescope in the world.
Be warned that the current popular view of astrophysics as being all stargazing and pretty pictures (the Brian Cox effect) is very slanted.
In reality astrophysicists have to spend lots of time sifting through pages of mundane data to find a significant result, so its not an easy field to enter if you don't have a genuine passion for the subject.
I assume you're about to start 6th form, I don't think a career in astrophysics is something you should be thinking about for a few years yet. I started university convinced I wanted be an astrophysicist, two years later it's the last thing I want to do! A-level physics will introduce you to loads of new related fields and you'll soon find out if you find astro interesting, but bear in mind that you won't really know if you want to pursue it as a career until university.