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Chemistry or Chemical Physics?

Hey, so title sort of says it all. Im currently doing maths chemistry and physics.

Up till now i was going to be applying for chemistry, but i had a sort of realisation that a lot of my favourite chemistry topics/topics im interested in are sort of mainly physical side (electrochemistry , material chemistry, thermodynamics).

I did initially start looking at courses like chemical physics (at bristol/ucl) and chemistry with molecular physics (nott) but i was a bit turned off because you have basically a joint honours in chem/physics, and from what i read up it seemed like it wouldnt really lead to an indutrial job, more like into research.

Im not too sure what i want to do after a degree, i dont even know if research is my thing yet, also the fact that chemical physics degrees arent accredited by the rsc was slightly concerning - but does this really matter?

Ill summarise in a few questions i guess (to skip the waffle XD)

1. To anyone who is doing a course similar or the same as chemical physics, what kind of stuff do you do, do you enjoy it? What kind of stuff do you look at on the physics side of things?

2. Are there just as good prospects with something like chemical physics compared to chemistry on its own?

3. Does the lack of accreditation in chemical physics courses hinder me in any way?

4. Just because i have some interest in specifically physical chemistry now do you think that would translate to university or something? Or is it possible i would like other topics a lot more in practice.

i think that's about all for now...if i have been vague about anything and you need elaboration just say so. Any help would be very much appreciated.

Thanks!

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Original post by NishalC
Hey, so title sort of says it all. Im currently doing maths chemistry and physics.

Up till now i was going to be applying for chemistry, but i had a sort of realisation that a lot of my favourite chemistry topics/topics im interested in are sort of mainly physical side (electrochemistry , material chemistry, thermodynamics).

I did initially start looking at courses like chemical physics (at bristol/ucl) and chemistry with molecular physics (nott) but i was a bit turned off because you have basically a joint honours in chem/physics, and from what i read up it seemed like it wouldnt really lead to an indutrial job, more like into research.

Im not too sure what i want to do after a degree, i dont even know if research is my thing yet, also the fact that chemical physics degrees arent accredited by the rsc was slightly concerning - but does this really matter?

Ill summarise in a few questions i guess (to skip the waffle XD)

1. To anyone who is doing a course similar or the same as chemical physics, what kind of stuff do you do, do you enjoy it? What kind of stuff do you look at on the physics side of things?

2. Are there just as good prospects with something like chemical physics compared to chemistry on its own?

3. Does the lack of accreditation in chemical physics courses hinder me in any way?

4. Just because i have some interest in specifically physical chemistry now do you think that would translate to university or something? Or is it possible i would like other topics a lot more in practice.

i think that's about all for now...if i have been vague about anything and you need elaboration just say so. Any help would be very much appreciated.

Thanks!


Hi. Erm unfortunately I can't answer everything in detail because I'm doing straight chemistry at UCL, but one of my close mates is doing chemical physics so I'll say what I know.

In UCL, first year chemical physics is pretty much identical to straight chemistry, apart from the fact that in chemical physics you do a physics module. But for 1st year chemical physicists still have to do inorganic and organic chemistry which they're usually not too keen on.

In second year it's different. I think they drop their inorganic and organic chemistry options and just do loads of mathsy and physicsy areas of chemistry.

I mean like I said, in 1st year you'll be able to sample all the main areas of chemistry and then if chemical physics isn't for you there may be a possibility of changing course.

Tbh, I've never heard that chemical physics is not looked upon favourably. If anything it's more challenging than a straight chemistry degree :s-smilie:
Reply 2
At my university (Heriot Watt), the chemical physics degree is actually accredited by the IoP and consequently is much more physics based (roughly a 75/25 split) but the projects and such in later years are in chemical physics (and therefore both disciplines.) I'm pretty sure that this is a bit different at other universities. For example, I know that chemical physics at Edinburgh is run by their chemistry department and so probably has a greater chemistry focus than Heriot Watt's. The chemical physicists here only do organic chemistry in 1st year then after that its all inorganic and physical chemistry. Also, chemical physics is a lot more maths-heavy than chemistry here (I.e. they do the same amount of maths as the physics students.) Hope I helped a bit :tongue:


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Reply 3
I was told by a professor at my university that there is a bit of a dilemma in chemistry at university, because pure chemists do not always study sufficient mathematics at undergraduate level to make the transition to quantum or physical chemistry at post-graduate level. I think it's fair to say the majority of chemistry students are interested in biological chemistry, so if you are more interested in studying quantum/physical chemistry in detail, I wouldn't hesitate to do a physical chemistry degree instead.
Reply 4
Original post by NishalC
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A member of staff from Bristol told us that in order to fit the content for both chemistry and physics in you do end up missing out on the parts of each subject that don't cross over with the other one at all, so with chemistry you'll lose the organic stuff and you won't cover much astronomy in physics. Maybe something to think about, if you like the whole range of physics and chemistry topics.
This is a bit late to the thread; but I'm in my fifth year of a chemical physics degree. Some of them are accredited by the RSC, others are accredited by the IOP. Edinburgh uni's is the only place which is accredited by both - so therefore you get an MChemPhys from Edinburgh. First off, it's a difficult degree - and this is subjective; but it's regarded by both the chemistry and physics departments at my university as being more difficult than either a straight chemistry or straight physics degree. I don't know much about organic chemistry, or astrophysics; but neither am I particularly interested in either of those things. In terms of employability your possibly more employable than a straight chemist and definitely more employable than a physicist. My path has led me to become a bit of an expert in the field of soft matter which is an area of science that is dominated by both industry and chemical physics. A rough calculation tells you there are fewer than 100 people graduating with chemical physics degrees in the UK every year. About half of them stay on to do phDs it's not difficult to get a job, especially when you can work in pretty much any industry - even pharma where organic chemistry rules likes chemical physicists for the simple reason that we're the only chemists that.
It's not for the faint-hearted. In previous years I've had more than 30 contact hours a week, plus assignments due every day. To put that in context most degrees have about 15hours contact time. On the plus side your time-management and efficiency are incredible by the end.
Reply 6
Original post by cailindana
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Hi, I'm a year 12 student who's considering chemical physics as I enjoy micro scale physics and physical chemistry so far.
I have looked at a few chemphy courses at some uni, but I don't really understand what they do because although I feel I might enjoy it, I actually have very limited knowledge on both physics and chemistry so far (only IGCSE+a bit of AS knowledge and little bit of reading/watching videos)
So could you kindly help me understand what physical chemistry involves in simple words?

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Reply 7
Original post by C0balt
Hi, I'm a year 12 student who's considering chemical physics as I enjoy micro scale physics and physical chemistry so far.
I have looked at a few chemphy courses at some uni, but I don't really understand what they do because although I feel I might enjoy it, I actually have very limited knowledge on both physics and chemistry so far (only IGCSE+a bit of AS knowledge and little bit of reading/watching videos)
So could you kindly help me understand what physical chemistry involves in simple words?

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Hey C0balt:smile:

I am applying for Chemical Physics this year. The degree will cover things like physical chemistry, inorganic chemistry and various physics topics such as quantum physics, particle physics electromagnetism etc. There won't be much or any organic chemistry as far as I am concerned. Think of it as the overlap between chemistry and physics.
In chemistry, topics such as structure and bonding, ligands, electrochemistry and EM spectra are the sorts of things there are.

I hope this has helped:smile:
Reply 8
Original post by TheRAG
Hey C0balt:smile:

I am applying for Chemical Physics this year. The degree will cover things like physical chemistry, inorganic chemistry and various physics topics such as quantum physics, particle physics electromagnetism etc. There won't be much or any organic chemistry as far as I am concerned. Think of it as the overlap between chemistry and physics.
In chemistry, topics such as structure and bonding, ligands, electrochemistry and EM spectra are the sorts of things there are.

I hope this has helped:smile:


Oh thanks
I don't know what electrochemistry or ligands are yet :dontknow: However it seems to be a good course as I feel when I have any question about chemistry, I tend to find the answer within the field of physics and within physics I enjoy quantum physics, nuclear physics etc rather than classical mechanics or astronomy (even though being an astronomer had been a childhood dream for a quite long time :P)

Which uni are you applying to if you don't mind me asking?

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Reply 9
Electrochemistry is the study of chemical reactions occurring at an electrode, or when an electrical current is involved.
Ligands are ions or molecules attached to a metal atom by coordination.
Don't worry though, you'll cover all this next year:smile:

I'd do some further reading, i.e. why chemical reactions happen, in search of schrodingers' cat etc, these may be helpful during interview!

I'm applying to Sheffield and Nottingham for Chemical Physics, though others for straight chemistry/geophysics
Reply 10
Original post by TheRAG
Electrochemistry is the study of chemical reactions occurring at an electrode, or when an electrical current is involved.
Ligands are ions or molecules attached to a metal atom by coordination.
Don't worry though, you'll cover all this next year:smile:

I'd do some further reading, i.e. why chemical reactions happen, in search of schrodingers' cat etc, these may be helpful during interview!

I'm applying to Sheffield and Nottingham for Chemical Physics, though others for straight chemistry/geophysics

Cool, I've only done GCSE level electrolysis :ahee:

I am currently reading In search of Shrodinger's cat and I read New Scientist articles. I looked at the sample of Why chemical reactions happen, but I didn't understand a **** XD

How did you write your personal statement to accommodate all these courses? :O
Reply 11
Original post by C0balt
Cool, I've only done GCSE level electrolysis :ahee:

I am currently reading In search of Shrodinger's cat and I read New Scientist articles. I looked at the sample of Why chemical reactions happen, but I didn't understand a **** XD

How did you write your personal statement to accommodate all these courses? :O


My personal statement was for both chemistry and physics, I talked about examples of things I found interesting for both. As for geosciences, I am writing an additional email to the department to explain my interests.

My personal statement is almost the same as the last one, with the exception that I am now on a gap year. I got all offers though, hopefully same again:colondollar:
Reply 12
Which unis do you hope to apply to?
Reply 13
Original post by TheRAG
Which unis do you hope to apply to?


I'm not sure exactly since I'm not a UK citizen and have never really seen many places (only been to London and Oxford for like three days in all)

I'm thinking of giving a shot to Oxbridge (Chemistry or NatSci) because hey, why not, since I have decent GCSE grades :P
Looking at courses, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Nottingham seem good to me

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Reply 14
Are chemical physics and CMP very different to something like 'Chemistry and Physics' degree?

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Reply 15
If you want to study the more physical side of chemistry and go into an industrial job, you should consider chemical engineering. Chemical engineering consists mainly of maths, thermodynamics, kinetics and fluid mechanics (as well as design projects).

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Original post by cailindana
This is a bit late to the thread; but I'm in my fifth year of a chemical physics degree. Some of them are accredited by the RSC, others are accredited by the IOP. Edinburgh uni's is the only place which is accredited by both - so therefore you get an MChemPhys from Edinburgh. First off, it's a difficult degree - and this is subjective; but it's regarded by both the chemistry and physics departments at my university as being more difficult than either a straight chemistry or straight physics degree. I don't know much about organic chemistry, or astrophysics; but neither am I particularly interested in either of those things. In terms of employability your possibly more employable than a straight chemist and definitely more employable than a physicist. My path has led me to become a bit of an expert in the field of soft matter which is an area of science that is dominated by both industry and chemical physics. A rough calculation tells you there are fewer than 100 people graduating with chemical physics degrees in the UK every year. About half of them stay on to do phDs it's not difficult to get a job, especially when you can work in pretty much any industry - even pharma where organic chemistry rules likes chemical physicists for the simple reason that we're the only chemists that.
It's not for the faint-hearted. In previous years I've had more than 30 contact hours a week, plus assignments due every day. To put that in context most degrees have about 15hours contact time. On the plus side your time-management and efficiency are incredible by the end.


I am in year 12 thinking of doing chemical physics at university, I love both physical chemistry and physics however the only thing that daunts me is the maths. I'm not bad at maths as I got an A* at GCSE and I study it at A level, I just don't enjoy it. I'm okay with maths that actually means something like in mechanics and in equations, will I hate this course because of the maths or is it okay?
Original post by Charlorobb182
I am in year 12 thinking of doing chemical physics at university, I love both physical chemistry and physics however the only thing that daunts me is the maths. I'm not bad at maths as I got an A* at GCSE and I study it at A level, I just don't enjoy it. I'm okay with maths that actually means something like in mechanics and in equations, will I hate this course because of the maths or is it okay?


Hey, I'm the OP from...jeez 4.5 years ago. I ended up studying Chemical Physics at Bristol and I'm now in my final year! My advice is being given from the perspective of Bristol Chemical Physics (i.e Bristol's Chemistry and Physics departments) but I reckon it's reasonable transferrable.

Maths is a big part of physics and physical chemistry (i.e the contents of a Chemical Physics degree). Though what I will say is the Maths doesn't go too far past what is taught in A level further maths. During your first year on the physics side of things you effectively 'catch-up' with A level further maths (+ extra).

The only advice I can give is Maths is a really useful tool. Concepts like calculus are important in Physics and you definitely can't avoid Maths in a Chemical Physics degree.

Hope this rambling is somewhat useful, but feel free to shoot some other questions at me if you want!
Original post by NishalC
Hey, I'm the OP from...jeez 4.5 years ago. I ended up studying Chemical Physics at Bristol and I'm now in my final year! My advice is being given from the perspective of Bristol Chemical Physics (i.e Bristol's Chemistry and Physics departments) but I reckon it's reasonable transferrable.

Maths is a big part of physics and physical chemistry (i.e the contents of a Chemical Physics degree). Though what I will say is the Maths doesn't go too far past what is taught in A level further maths. During your first year on the physics side of things you effectively 'catch-up' with A level further maths (+ extra).

The only advice I can give is Maths is a really useful tool. Concepts like calculus are important in Physics and you definitely can't avoid Maths in a Chemical Physics degree.

Hope this rambling is somewhat useful, but feel free to shoot some other questions at me if you want!


Thank you a lot, that was very helpful, I think I've decided chemical physics is the course for me, now I just have to do well enough on my A levels! Fingers crossed
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Original post by username1224408
Hey, I'm the OP from...jeez 4.5 years ago. I ended up studying Chemical Physics at Bristol and I'm now in my final year! My advice is being given from the perspective of Bristol Chemical Physics (i.e Bristol's Chemistry and Physics departments) but I reckon it's reasonable transferrable.

Maths is a big part of physics and physical chemistry (i.e the contents of a Chemical Physics degree). Though what I will say is the Maths doesn't go too far past what is taught in A level further maths. During your first year on the physics side of things you effectively 'catch-up' with A level further maths (+ extra).

The only advice I can give is Maths is a really useful tool. Concepts like calculus are important in Physics and you definitely can't avoid Maths in a Chemical Physics degree.

Hope this rambling is somewhat useful, but feel free to shoot some other questions at me if you want!

Damn I just got into year 13 and also considering doing Chemical physics and thanks to you I found out that University of Bristol also does Chemical Physics. Since you posted 3 years ago may I ask how you are doing right now? Have you found yourself a job after your degree? Wish you the best peace!

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