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    I received offers from Durham to study natural science. Wondering if there is anyone with experience in studying natural science at Durham to tell me more about how well they liked it and their experiences with the course?
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    Hi, I am not on the Natural Sciences course, but as a Physicist I have experience of the science faculty and can speak a bit about the experience of my friends on the Natural Science course.

    From most people they reckon it's great. Unless you opt to do a joint honours (eg. Physics and Chemistry, Physics and Maths, Chemistry and Biology) where your degree certificate will specify those two subjects, in which case it's less flexible as there are more requirements. Otherwise you have a huge range of choice as a natural scientist and can take a broad range of subjects, assuming you have the required prerequisites and that the timetable allows it! This means you can tailor your degree to what you're interested in, which is a good thing! The course director is also really helpful!

    What subjects are you looking at in particular?
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    (Original post by pianofluteftw)
    Hi, I am not on the Natural Sciences course, but as a Physicist I have experience of the science faculty and can speak a bit about the experience of my friends on the Natural Science course.

    From most people they reckon it's great. Unless you opt to do a joint honours (eg. Physics and Chemistry, Physics and Maths, Chemistry and Biology) where your degree certificate will specify those two subjects, in which case it's less flexible as there are more requirements. Otherwise you have a huge range of choice as a natural scientist and can take a broad range of subjects, assuming you have the required prerequisites and that the timetable allows it! This means you can tailor your degree to what you're interested in, which is a good thing! The course director is also really helpful!

    What subjects are you looking at in particular?
    I'm thinking of studying chemistry, physics and computer science as specific options in the natural science course. When I applied they asked me to select 4 options so I think I might add maths to that as well. I'm wondering if you do more subjects does that mean you get to study them in less depth? My interests are quite broad and I don't think I can narrow them down at this stage!

    What do you think of the physics course provided at Durham? I have applied to Imperial College as well and I might go there because they seem to be better in terms of research quality, but I have trouble making up my mind at the moment.
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    (Original post by yangg)
    I'm thinking of studying chemistry, physics and computer science as specific options in the natural science course. When I applied they asked me to select 4 options so I think I might add maths to that as well. I'm wondering if you do more subjects does that mean you get to study them in less depth? My interests are quite broad and I don't think I can narrow them down at this stage!

    What do you think of the physics course provided at Durham? I have applied to Imperial College as well and I might go there because they seem to be better in terms of research quality, but I have trouble making up my mind at the moment.
    Natural Scientists do obviously go into less depth that people doing only one subject. This usually means they do less laboratory work (at least in each department, over the course of the degree they may well have the same number of hours, but split over two departments). It also means they often have less freedom to study subjects like theoretical Physics or advanced astrophysics as they wont complete all the necessary prerequisites. From what I've seen, apart from a few random modules, most natural scientists, especially if they're focusing Physics/Chemistry/Maths/Computer Science tend to take mostly the core modules, that cover a breadth of material but not necessarily in the same level of detail.

    Don't worry - most people can't narrow down their options at this stage! Even when you get to Durham you have a 3 week or so period when you can to some extent swap modules, so you'll be ok!

    The Physics course at Durham is excellent in my opinion. Well taught, covers a lot of stuff in a really good amount of detail and is incredibly highly regarded. With regards to research, Durham is actually ranked highest in Europe for astrophysics research, and also has a very strong background in Particle Physics Phenomenology and Computational Astrophysics (Uk Leading). If you look at any university consistently in the top 5 their research will be excellent - Durham suffers to some extent as it is smaller than many, but is consistently ranked very highly. Also as an undergraduate, as nice as it might sound the research the department does has very little impact on your degree. Yes, you get taught by some 'big names' - ie. people who wrote the textbooks etc. but realistically it wont effect you much at all, so don't base too much off quality of research! For PhD's and post doc etc. it's obviously a different story but for your undergrad just focus on finding somewhere that the course enables you to study what you want to, that is highly regarded and probably most importantly - that you like! The place you study in and the type of university has a big impact on how much you enjoy your degree so choose wisely!
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    (Original post by pianofluteftw)
    Natural Scientists do obviously go into less depth that people doing only one subject. This usually means they do less laboratory work (at least in each department, over the course of the degree they may well have the same number of hours, but split over two departments). It also means they often have less freedom to study subjects like theoretical Physics or advanced astrophysics as they wont complete all the necessary prerequisites. From what I've seen, apart from a few random modules, most natural scientists, especially if they're focusing Physics/Chemistry/Maths/Computer Science tend to take mostly the core modules, that cover a breadth of material but not necessarily in the same level of detail.

    Don't worry - most people can't narrow down their options at this stage! Even when you get to Durham you have a 3 week or so period when you can to some extent swap modules, so you'll be ok!

    The Physics course at Durham is excellent in my opinion. Well taught, covers a lot of stuff in a really good amount of detail and is incredibly highly regarded. With regards to research, Durham is actually ranked highest in Europe for astrophysics research, and also has a very strong background in Particle Physics Phenomenology and Computational Astrophysics (Uk Leading). If you look at any university consistently in the top 5 their research will be excellent - Durham suffers to some extent as it is smaller than many, but is consistently ranked very highly. Also as an undergraduate, as nice as it might sound the research the department does has very little impact on your degree. Yes, you get taught by some 'big names' - ie. people who wrote the textbooks etc. but realistically it wont effect you much at all, so don't base too much off quality of research! For PhD's and post doc etc. it's obviously a different story but for your undergrad just focus on finding somewhere that the course enables you to study what you want to, that is highly regarded and probably most importantly - that you like! The place you study in and the type of university has a big impact on how much you enjoy your degree so choose wisely!
    Thanks for providing some insight into this situation. I might study physics at Imperial if I get in, so I'll think about it a bit more.
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    What are the pros and cons of studying NatSci but choosing mostly maths and physics modules, and choosing straight physics. For me, my interest lies less in astronomy/cosmology and more in condensed matter/quantum. After doing a master's down the NatSci route could one gain as deep knowledge by doing a physics master's? Are there modules unique to the physics course that are particularly good? Cheers.
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    (Original post by barnaclefred)
    What are the pros and cons of studying NatSci but choosing mostly maths and physics modules, and choosing straight physics. For me, my interest lies less in astronomy/cosmology and more in condensed matter/quantum. After doing a master's down the NatSci route could one gain as deep knowledge by doing a physics master's? Are there modules unique to the physics course that are particularly good? Cheers.
    Hardly seems much more to add, after the great job pianoflute has done!

    But anyway I'll try to address a few points as a Natsci.

    The main pro is the rather extensive flexibility, not just inter subject, but intra subject too. A natural sciences student can strategically avoid some of the less desirable modules if they so choose, while still being able to progress right through the course and specialise (I gravitated towards physics).

    The con is really the same as the pro; the flexibility! If you are too adventurous with module choices early on you can actually screw over your options completely later. To keep things open I would strongly advise doing anything of a deviant nature!

    As a matter of interest, I actually managed to get through three years without touching astronomy (not sure I'd recommend it)! And when I think about it I did alot of quantum (1 lecture course in first year, 3 lecture courses in 2nd year, 2 lecture courses in 3rd year). As for the masters, you can do a final year in completely physics, so its a win win provided you are careful. To this end my advise is that you keep your first year entirely science based (while physics students might pick a language module and technically Natscis can pick multiple non-science modules, or do 4 different sciences e.c.t.) because this will benefit you in the long run. A very popular choice is:

    Core chemistry + Practical chemistry 1A (40 credits)
    Foundations of Physics 1 (40 credits)
    Linear Algebra (20 credits)
    Probability and Calculus (20 credits)

    This is about the broadest range of subjects you can do in the first year, while completely keeping things open in subsequent years. If however you prefer two of these three subjects I would advise doing that instead. You may be interested in doing a joint honors in which case your degree path is dictated more to you:

    This is an example joint honors in physics and chemistry

    http://www.maths.dur.ac.uk/php/natur...gramme=jh_msci

    Oh speaking of chemistry, if you have any indication of wanting to study this, then you must stipulate in your UCAS form, there is information available about that - this is exclusively for chemistry though which is the most competitive course in Natsci.
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    (Original post by yangg)
    I'm thinking of studying chemistry, physics and computer science as specific options in the natural science course. When I applied they asked me to select 4 options so I think I might add maths to that as well. I'm wondering if you do more subjects does that mean you get to study them in less depth? My interests are quite broad and I don't think I can narrow them down at this stage!

    What do you think of the physics course provided at Durham? I have applied to Imperial College as well and I might go there because they seem to be better in terms of research quality, but I have trouble making up my mind at the moment.
    What piano says is correct, you do indeed get to change even after you arrive. So its not set in stone right now, but you must declare on your UCAS if you have any interest in doing Chemistry. Its not like the other subjects, its highly competitive and they do not have many places.

    I'd give this a read regarding chemistry:
    https://www.dur.ac.uk/natural.sciences/faq/chem/

    With regards to your subjects, you can indeed do 4 subjects however I would be very weary about this. One of the problems with the natural sciences course is that I think they are too flexible in the first year, if you spread yourself thin you can come across problems later, and actually loose flexibility in later years. A slightly less adventurous choice in the 1st year will be rewarded in future years.

    With regards to progression these modules are really essential for each of the subjects respectively:

    Physics:

    Foundations 1 (40 credits)

    Chemistry

    Core chemistry 1A (30 credits)

    Maths

    Linear Algebra (20 credits) AND calculus and probability (20 credits)

    So that leaves you only 10 credits left over for a computer science module of which there are none.

    So realistically it is not possible to take all 4 of these subjects to level 2, it might be worth at this stage deciding which subject you like the least so you know which one is going to drop. And unfortunately your choice can't be maths, because those modules (or otherwise similar modules) are required for physics/chemistry progression anyway.
 
 
 
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