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    This is my first thread.

    My college want me to write a PS draft, due within the next few days, so they can give me some feedback and I can use that over the summer. The dilemma is that I just can't make up my mind on what course I want to study, as it's such a big decision.

    I'm currently doing Maths, FM, Chemistry and Physics. Since starting A level I have always leaned towards Physics and thought I would do that or Engineering at University. Recently, though I have dismissed the idea of Engineering, as I feel it would be too practical and the content wouldn't interest me. However, after a visit to the Imperial College open day, I discovered Materials and that area has been a part of science that think I am fond of- I like structures of materials in chemistry and why things behave differently (Also on the atomic level) etc. But I have not enjoyed doing learning the definitions of material characteristics in physics nor much of the Youngs Modulus stuff.

    What does Materials (Science/Engineering) involve in relation to Physics, Chemistry, or Maths A level?

    I also went to the Oxford open day and spent some time in the Materials Science department there, of which the lab tour was quite impressive. The course itself appealed to me as it didn't seem to practical.In the talk given there, they showed that the average Oxford graduate leaving salary was highest in Materials and at £35,000. This really appeals to me as it would help motivate me during the course. Is this correct as for other Materials departments I have not seen it this high?

    Are Material Science courses similar at other Universities?

    However, when researching the Oxford course, I started to understand that they think a course should be chosen with true passion for the subject you love. With Materials, I just don't feel passionate about it, as I'm not really sure on what it's like- I've had no experience. This made me think back to physics, which I have always liked and felt passionate about parts of it.

    With Physics, there are some parts like Mechanics, Energy, Forces, Hookes Law and Viscosity which I like a lot. But Circuits, Waves and non-fundamental Electricity I was not so keen on. This may just be due to the way it was taught. (I've had 4 different physics teachers over the year).

    I was looking through the Oxford prospectus, when I came across Physics and Philosophy. It combined the theoretical and fundamental parts of Physics with an added philosophical approach. At first seemed silly, as I knew someone who did Philosophy at Uni and they ended up with a rubbish job. But the more I thought about it, the more I found the idea attractive. I have never done philosophy at A level or GCSE. But I did RE and my teacher there was very philosophical and his lessons I always found extremely interesting. I always like to view concepts from different perspectives (e.g. religious and scientific) and see how they oppose one another, but yet are similar in principle . The more it churns in my mind the more I think the combination is something I could be passionate about.:confused: I've briefly read parts of philosophy A level text and it seems to draw me in. On the other hand, the career prospects do concern me (compared to materials).

    Do you think Physics and Philosophy is right for me, or is it just a last minute attempt for a subject?

    After a Physics and Philosophy degree, is it easy to specialise and go into engineerish areas such as Materials?

    Also I've seen that only 12% of applicants get a place on the P&P course, compared to the 40% for Materials Science. Which worries me, as it's the course at Oxford which appeals to me.

    If someone could just try and answer some of those questions, that would be a huge help. Sorry for writing so much, I'm just a bit worried. Thanks.
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    (Original post by XtremeLuke)
    This is my first thread.

    My college want me to write a PS draft, due within the next few days, so they can give me some feedback and I can use that over the summer. The dilemma is that I just can't make up my mind on what course I want to study, as it's such a big decision.

    I'm currently doing Maths, FM, Chemistry and Physics. Since starting A level I have always leaned towards Physics and thought I would do that or Engineering at University. Recently, though I have dismissed the idea of Engineering, as I feel it would be too practical and the content wouldn't interest me. However, after a visit to the Imperial College open day, I discovered Materials and that area has been a part of science that think I am fond of- I like structures of materials in chemistry and why things behave differently (Also on the atomic level) etc. But I have not enjoyed doing learning the definitions of material characteristics in physics nor much of the Youngs Modulus stuff.

    What does Materials (Science/Engineering) involve in relation to Physics, Chemistry, or Maths A level?

    I also went to the Oxford open day and spent some time in the Materials Science department there, of which the lab tour was quite impressive. The course itself appealed to me as it didn't seem to practical.In the talk given there, they showed that the average Oxford graduate leaving salary was highest in Materials and at £35,000. This really appeals to me as it would help motivate me during the course. Is this correct as for other Materials departments I have not seen it this high?

    Are Material Science courses similar at other Universities?

    However, when researching the Oxford course, I started to understand that they think a course should be chosen with true passion for the subject you love. With Materials, I just don't feel passionate about it, as I'm not really sure on what it's like- I've had no experience. This made me think back to physics, which I have always liked and felt passionate about parts of it.

    With Physics, there are some parts like Mechanics, Energy, Forces, Hookes Law and Viscosity which I like a lot. But Circuits, Waves and non-fundamental Electricity I was not so keen on. This may just be due to the way it was taught. (I've had 4 different physics teachers over the year).

    I was looking through the Oxford prospectus, when I came across Physics and Philosophy. It combined the theoretical and fundamental parts of Physics with an added philosophical approach. At first seemed silly, as I knew someone who did Philosophy at Uni and they ended up with a rubbish job. But the more I thought about it, the more I found the idea attractive. I have never done philosophy at A level or GCSE. But I did RE and my teacher there was very philosophical and his lessons I always found extremely interesting. I always like to view concepts from different perspectives (e.g. religious and scientific) and see how they oppose one another, but yet are similar in principle . The more it churns in my mind the more I think the combination is something I could be passionate about.:confused: I've briefly read parts of philosophy A level text and it seems to draw me in. On the other hand, the career prospects do concern me (compared to materials).

    Do you think Physics and Philosophy is right for me, or is it just a last minute attempt for a subject?

    After a Physics and Philosophy degree, is it easy to specialise and go into engineerish areas such as Materials?

    Also I've seen that only 12% of applicants get a place on the P&P course, compared to the 40% for Materials Science. Which worries me, as it's the course at Oxford which appeals to me.

    If someone could just try and answer some of those questions, that would be a huge help. Sorry for writing so much, I'm just a bit worried. Thanks.
    With regards to giving your college a draft, you could write a personal statement for each of the two subjects to give to them -seeing which one is easier to write may help you decide, and you'll have a draft prepared for either subject if you change your mind.

    I was in a similar situation a year ago, with no clue what to apply for. (This time last year I was considering NatSci, medicine, maths, music, physics, chemistry, materials science, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering general engineering... haha) I was also supposed to give school a draft PS before the end of the summer term but I left it until a couple of weeks before the Oxbridge application deadline! I was very stressed over how I was supposed to know what I wanted to do at uni within a few months!

    One piece of advice I would give is to consider NatSci at Cambridge over Materials/Physics at Oxford if you are unsure which subject you would rather do and would still feel like you are picking randomly between them come October! In first year you could do materials, maths, physics and another science subject e.g. chemistry, computer science, then specialise in physics or materials or continue with both in second year once you've had experience of both subjects at degree level, and would then be in a more informed position to choose a subject.

    I also considered materials and physics at Oxford but decided that it would be silly to apply for a single science over NatSci when I wasn't sure which science to pick, and didn't know if I would like materials! (There being less maths in materials also put me off, along with personally not overly liking the Oxford materials course structure/department after visiting on the open day.)

    I had similar likes/dislikes of parts of the physics A level course to you - I think I just didn't get waves and electricity/circuits, or maybe it was just that it isn't presented in an overly interesting way at A level. Hopefully it might be better at degree level! :rolleyes: But whatever subject you pick for a degree, don't expect to like every single part of the subject - I think for most people there'll be the odd module or topic they hate in their degree despite loving the rest of their subject!

    One thing I'd wish I'd done this time last year was done more general reading into the subjects I was thinking of studying. For materials maybe read The New Science of Strong Materials by J E Gordon or Made to Measure: New Materials for the 21st Century by P Ball over the summer - such general introductions to the subject may give you a better idea if you want to study it. Another thing to look at is the Cambridge materials lecture notes are available online, go on http://www.msm.cam.ac.uk/teaching/partIA.php click on one of the modules then scroll down to the link to the lecture notes. This might give you a better idea of what is done in materials at degree level.

    What do you want to do after a degree? Going into materials research is definitely possible from a physics degree as there is overlap between materials and areas of physics.

    Hope this is in some way helpful, if you want me to address any other questions feel free to ask!
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    (Original post by Claree)
    With regards to giving your college a draft, you could write a personal statement for each of the two subjects to give to them -seeing which one is easier to write may help you decide, and you'll have a draft prepared for either subject if you change your mind.

    I was in a similar situation a year ago, with no clue what to apply for. (This time last year I was considering NatSci, medicine, maths, music, physics, chemistry, materials science, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering general engineering... haha) I was also supposed to give school a draft PS before the end of the summer term but I left it until a couple of weeks before the Oxbridge application deadline! I was very stressed over how I was supposed to know what I wanted to do at uni within a few months!

    One piece of advice I would give is to consider NatSci at Cambridge over Materials/Physics at Oxford if you are unsure which subject you would rather do and would still feel like you are picking randomly between them come October! In first year you could do materials, maths, physics and another science subject e.g. chemistry, computer science, then specialise in physics or materials or continue with both in second year once you've had experience of both subjects at degree level, and would then be in a more informed position to choose a subject.

    I also considered materials and physics at Oxford but decided that it would be silly to apply for a single science over NatSci when I wasn't sure which science to pick, and didn't know if I would like materials! (There being less maths in materials also put me off, along with personally not overly liking the Oxford materials course structure/department after visiting on the open day.)

    I had similar likes/dislikes of parts of the physics A level course to you - I think I just didn't get waves and electricity/circuits, or maybe it was just that it isn't presented in an overly interesting way at A level. Hopefully it might be better at degree level! :rolleyes: But whatever subject you pick for a degree, don't expect to like every single part of the subject - I think for most people there'll be the odd module or topic they hate in their degree despite loving the rest of their subject!

    One thing I'd wish I'd done this time last year was done more general reading into the subjects I was thinking of studying. For materials maybe read The New Science of Strong Materials by J E Gordon or Made to Measure: New Materials for the 21st Century by P Ball over the summer - such general introductions to the subject may give you a better idea if you want to study it. Another thing to look at is the Cambridge materials lecture notes are available online, go on http://www.msm.cam.ac.uk/teaching/partIA.php click on one of the modules then scroll down to the link to the lecture notes. This might give you a better idea of what is done in materials at degree level.

    What do you want to do after a degree? Going into materials research is definitely possible from a physics degree as there is overlap between materials and areas of physics.

    Hope this is in some way helpful, if you want me to address any other questions feel free to ask!
    Firstly, I didn't expect anyone to actually reply, after re-reading my post. Especially not in much detail, like you did, so thanks for that. Also, I've had a look at the link you gave. That was really useful and was just what I was looking for; I wanted a taste of the subject- to see what I'd be learning.

    I'm guessing you're going to uni September. If so, it sounded like you went for NatSci at Cambridge. If you don't mind me asking: What did apply for at other Unis? What offers have you got?

    The Cambridge course does appeal to me, and if I'm still undecided I will choose that over Oxford. However, I don't think I would apply for NatSci at other Unis as the structures don't look as good as Cambridge's.

    Regarding reading, I don't normally read many books, simply because I'm too lazy , and watch a factual video etc. My tutor also said to read books on subjects I haven't done.I do think it would be a good test, to see if I'm pulled in by new concepts. I'll probably take some physics/philosophy books out from the college library, and order a materials book online to read over the summer. Thanks for the suggestions.

    By the end of my education, I want to be able to go into a well-payed career, which relates to and uses, the knowledge from my degree (asking for a lot- i know). In that sense, I think Materials is the better option- as likely higher payed from employment after graduating, and I could go straight into some materials engineering job. Whereas, from what I can tell, a Physics degree is less applicable in the real world and graduates, of which go into employment, on average earn less. However, If I did do physics I probably would like to specialise and go into research/PhD (or whatever) after the degree, and whether this research (e.g. materials related stuff) could be just as valuable as a Materials degree, I don't know :confused:.

    The draft was due today; In the end I wrote the first paragraph for a Materials Science PS. Anyway, I will still follow your advise, and probably write two different drafts and see which one is easier to write-that should help. Thanks for your advise .
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    (Original post by XtremeLuke)
    Firstly, I didn't expect anyone to actually reply, after re-reading my post. Especially not in much detail, like you did, so thanks for that. Also, I've had a look at the link you gave. That was really useful and was just what I was looking for; I wanted a taste of the subject- to see what I'd be learning.

    I'm guessing you're going to uni September. If so, it sounded like you went for NatSci at Cambridge. If you don't mind me asking: What did apply for at other Unis? What offers have you got?

    The Cambridge course does appeal to me, and if I'm still undecided I will choose that over Oxford. However, I don't think I would apply for NatSci at other Unis as the structures don't look as good as Cambridge's.

    Regarding reading, I don't normally read many books, simply because I'm too lazy , and watch a factual video etc. My tutor also said to read books on subjects I haven't done.I do think it would be a good test, to see if I'm pulled in by new concepts. I'll probably take some physics/philosophy books out from the college library, and order a materials book online to read over the summer. Thanks for the suggestions.

    By the end of my education, I want to be able to go into a well-payed career, which relates to and uses, the knowledge from my degree (asking for a lot- i know). In that sense, I think Materials is the better option- as likely higher payed from employment after graduating, and I could go straight into some materials engineering job. Whereas, from what I can tell, a Physics degree is less applicable in the real world and graduates, of which go into employment, on average earn less. However, If I did do physics I probably would like to specialise and go into research/PhD (or whatever) after the degree, and whether this research (e.g. materials related stuff) could be just as valuable as a Materials degree, I don't know :confused:.

    The draft was due today; In the end I wrote the first paragraph for a Materials Science PS. Anyway, I will still follow your advise, and probably write two different drafts and see which one is easier to write-that should help. Thanks for your advise .
    Yes, I will be doing NatSci at Cambridge from October (I actually applied for ChemEng via NatSci so will be switching to ChemEng from 2nd year if I don't change my mind and want to stay on NatSci - at Cambridge to do ChemEng you can do either general engineering or NatSci in first year, then the ChemEng course starts in 2nd year).

    I actually didn't apply to any other unis. I really had no clue what to apply for!! I only decided what to apply for as my Oxbridge choice about a week before the Oxbridge deadline (I'd been trying to decide between engineering and NatSci for a couple of weeks prior to that), but it still felt like more of a random choice than a decision! I thought ChemEng via NatSci left me with the most options left. Since I wasn't entirely sure at that point what I wanted to do at uni I sent my UCAS form off with only Cambridge on it, as you can always add other non-Oxbridge choices later. (My school weren't most pleased with this though!!)

    I never ended up adding any more choices, partly because besides Cambridge NatSci (and you can only have one Oxbridge choice of course/uni) there weren't really any other courses I could imagine myself doing, and I would rather have taken a gap year and reapply if I hadn't got in, and partly because I was ill for the rest of that half term. If I hadn't got into Cambridge there would have still been time between the Cambridge decision date and the UCAS deadline (15th Jan) to add more choices anyway. When I then got an offer from Cambridge there wasn't any need to apply anywhere else (my offer was unconditional).

    I had considered:
    • Imperial ChemEng (I loved the course but would have hated living in London to the extent that I wouldn't have gone there),
    • Imperial Physics (with music performance) (same thing about living in London, and I wasn't sure I wanted to specialise in physics, whereas Cambridge ChemEng via NatSci still kept the option of physics open as well as ChemEng),
    • UCL Biochemical engineering (I liked the look of the course but visited UCL and hated the place),
    • Durham NatSci (I don't like Durham, didn't like how the course stays broad when I would have wanted to have ended up on a single subject, didn't like the lack of materials science/more engineering-y options, and how you had to pick modules out of each science rather than just being able to do the lot like with the Cambridge course; I had similar reasons for not liking any other NatSci course, as you say!)


    Basically I had my heart set on Cambridge, probably unhealthily so, and as a result was just comparing other courses to how the Cambridge one was better for me. :/ I think it's common for people to apply for NatSci at Cambridge then a single science at other unis in this scenario. You could also apply for more than one course at a given uni (except Oxbridge) e.g. you could apply for both Imperial materials and Imperial physics if still undecided at the time of applying.

    I currently want to go into research so pay-wise which subject I choose isn't going to make much difference (though my career wishes are basically the same as yours, with added emphasis on application to the real world and being academically stimulating), I just want to end up in what I find most interesting and beneficial to society, but I can see that if you don't want to stay in academia then jobs which use more engineering-y subjects are probably going to have better pay than jobs using less engineering-y subjects. However, if you want to work in e.g. the city etc. then it isn't going to make much of a difference - there are some jobs that just require a degree that is in some way numerical.

    One of my reasons for considering a physics degree was that there are fields of physics that could lead to more applied research, and physics seemed to be the broadest single science in this sense, but stuff like quantum physics, astrophysics etc. I wouldn't have wanted to study as primarily I want research in an area that is more directly applicable to improving quality of life.

    To be honest though, it probably all just comes down to pick the subject you're most interested in and will most enjoy doing a first degree in - the career options are going to be very similar between materials and physics. If you don't know which subject you're most interested in or are equally interested in both, maybe go for the broader of the two i.e. physics, or pick the one that leads to research areas that look most interesting, or go for Cambridge NatSci and separate sciences for your other choices.
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    I think there are probably a few options regarding further study, with respect to materials. I'm on a chemistry degree, but I think i'm leaning towards the possibility of trying to go into the materials industry. Not yet sure whether i'll manage it with my degree as is, or if i'll need to do some more materials-based study but the PhD and research opportunities seem to pull from a large background (phys, chem, engineering) so I don't think you have to completely write it out of your plans if you decide to continue down the other route. Obviously, you're better set up directly specialising into it if it does look to be what you want to do.
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    (Original post by Claree)
    Yes, I will be doing NatSci at Cambridge from October (I actually applied for ChemEng via NatSci so will be switching to ChemEng from 2nd year if I don't change my mind and want to stay on NatSci - at Cambridge to do ChemEng you can do either general engineering or NatSci in first year, then the ChemEng course starts in 2nd year).

    I actually didn't apply to any other unis. I really had no clue what to apply for!! I only decided what to apply for as my Oxbridge choice about a week before the Oxbridge deadline (I'd been trying to decide between engineering and NatSci for a couple of weeks prior to that), but it still felt like more of a random choice than a decision! I thought ChemEng via NatSci left me with the most options left. Since I wasn't entirely sure at that point what I wanted to do at uni I sent my UCAS form off with only Cambridge on it, as you can always add other non-Oxbridge choices later. (My school weren't most pleased with this though!!)

    I never ended up adding any more choices, partly because besides Cambridge NatSci (and you can only have one Oxbridge choice of course/uni) there weren't really any other courses I could imagine myself doing, and I would rather have taken a gap year and reapply if I hadn't got in, and partly because I was ill for the rest of that half term. If I hadn't got into Cambridge there would have still been time between the Cambridge decision date and the UCAS deadline (15th Jan) to add more choices anyway. When I then got an offer from Cambridge there wasn't any need to apply anywhere else (my offer was unconditional).

    I had considered:
    • Imperial ChemEng (I loved the course but would have hated living in London to the extent that I wouldn't have gone there),
    • Imperial Physics (with music performance) (same thing about living in London, and I wasn't sure I wanted to specialise in physics, whereas Cambridge ChemEng via NatSci still kept the option of physics open as well as ChemEng),
    • UCL Biochemical engineering (I liked the look of the course but visited UCL and hated the place),
    • Durham NatSci (I don't like Durham, didn't like how the course stays broad when I would have wanted to have ended up on a single subject, didn't like the lack of materials science/more engineering-y options, and how you had to pick modules out of each science rather than just being able to do the lot like with the Cambridge course; I had similar reasons for not liking any other NatSci course, as you say!)


    Basically I had my heart set on Cambridge, probably unhealthily so, and as a result was just comparing other courses to how the Cambridge one was better for me. :/ I think it's common for people to apply for NatSci at Cambridge then a single science at other unis in this scenario. You could also apply for more than one course at a given uni (except Oxbridge) e.g. you could apply for both Imperial materials and Imperial physics if still undecided at the time of applying.

    I currently want to go into research so pay-wise which subject I choose isn't going to make much difference (though my career wishes are basically the same as yours, with added emphasis on application to the real world and being academically stimulating), I just want to end up in what I find most interesting and beneficial to society, but I can see that if you don't want to stay in academia then jobs which use more engineering-y subjects are probably going to have better pay than jobs using less engineering-y subjects. However, if you want to work in e.g. the city etc. then it isn't going to make much of a difference - there are some jobs that just require a degree that is in some way numerical.

    One of my reasons for considering a physics degree was that there are fields of physics that could lead to more applied research, and physics seemed to be the broadest single science in this sense, but stuff like quantum physics, astrophysics etc. I wouldn't have wanted to study as primarily I want research in an area that is more directly applicable to improving quality of life.

    To be honest though, it probably all just comes down to pick the subject you're most interested in and will most enjoy doing a first degree in - the career options are going to be very similar between materials and physics. If you don't know which subject you're most interested in or are equally interested in both, maybe go for the broader of the two i.e. physics, or pick the one that leads to research areas that look most interesting, or go for Cambridge NatSci and separate sciences for your other choices.
    Well done on your unconditional offer, it seems like it was well deserved. I think I am leaning towards Materials Science or NatSci at Cambridge. Thanks for your advise, it's been really useful.


    (Original post by Nymthae)
    I think there are probably a few options regarding further study, with respect to materials. I'm on a chemistry degree, but I think i'm leaning towards the possibility of trying to go into the materials industry. Not yet sure whether i'll manage it with my degree as is, or if i'll need to do some more materials-based study but the PhD and research opportunities seem to pull from a large background (phys, chem, engineering) so I don't think you have to completely write it out of your plans if you decide to continue down the other route. Obviously, you're better set up directly specialising into it if it does look to be what you want to do.
    The more I read into to it, the more interested I get; if I do end up wanting to do Materials, I will probably specialise. Thanks for the info.
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    Sorry to revive a relatively old thread, but could someone tailor a personal statement to apply to both Materials Science (at Oxford and Imperial) AND Physics (elsewhere)?
    Thanks
 
 
 
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