The Student Room Group

Physics or natural sciences?

(Reposted from the UCAS application section of the forum, as it's a better fit here)

Hi all,
I am an A2 student currently studying chemistry, physics, maths and English language (I'm on two sides about dropping the latter, but that's a story for another time). I'm predicted an A* in maths and physics, and an A in chemistry, and I'm looking to go into a branch of research, hopefully with a university, into the frontiers of physics (and possibly chemistry).

My only worry is that, by taking natural science instead of physics or chemistry, I may have a broader knowledge of subjects in chemistry and physics as opposed to an in depth knowledge. I'm afraid that this might make an employer in the field of scientific research favour someone with a specific science degree over someone with a natural science degree, as only the physics degree has the depth of knowledge required for modern research into new fields. Is this the case?

I will be applying for Natural science at Cambridge, as the subject material is broad and yet students still come out with a degree with depth in one subject in particular. I was also thinking of applying to Sheffield university for Chemical physics, as this subject should also go in depth into quantum chemistry and suchlike, and is more focused than the natural sciences whilst still prioritising on my two favourite subjects, chemistry and physics. However, I am far from 100% on whether I should choose natural science or physics at my other university choices, including Durham, Leeds, York and Birmingham.

Does anyone know which of these degrees would help me fare better in a career in research? Are there certain universities who do a degree in natural science seen as better than physics by employers, and vice versa? Also, how specialised can a degree in natural science be, compared to a degree in physics (I'm assuming that this also changes from uni to uni)?

Before you ask, no, I'm not much fun at parties. :tongue:
Original post by Hunty2312
(Reposted from the UCAS application section of the forum, as it's a better fit here)

Hi all,
I am an A2 student currently studying chemistry, physics, maths and English language (I'm on two sides about dropping the latter, but that's a story for another time). I'm predicted an A* in maths and physics, and an A in chemistry, and I'm looking to go into a branch of research, hopefully with a university, into the frontiers of physics (and possibly chemistry).

My only worry is that, by taking natural science instead of physics or chemistry, I may have a broader knowledge of subjects in chemistry and physics as opposed to an in depth knowledge. I'm afraid that this might make an employer in the field of scientific research favour someone with a specific science degree over someone with a natural science degree, as only the physics degree has the depth of knowledge required for modern research into new fields. Is this the case?

I will be applying for Natural science at Cambridge, as the subject material is broad and yet students still come out with a degree with depth in one subject in particular. I was also thinking of applying to Sheffield university for Chemical physics, as this subject should also go in depth into quantum chemistry and suchlike, and is more focused than the natural sciences whilst still prioritising on my two favourite subjects, chemistry and physics. However, I am far from 100% on whether I should choose natural science or physics at my other university choices, including Durham, Leeds, York and Birmingham.

Does anyone know which of these degrees would help me fare better in a career in research? Are there certain universities who do a degree in natural science seen as better than physics by employers, and vice versa? Also, how specialised can a degree in natural science be, compared to a degree in physics (I'm assuming that this also changes from uni to uni)?

Before you ask, no, I'm not much fun at parties. :tongue:


It depends a lot on what area of research you want to go into. For most roles in industry it won't matter too much as it's unlikely your role will draw too much on exact higher-level subject knowledge - it's more your general knowledge of the area combined with problem solving and other soft skills. Most people are aware that NatSci is tough.

It you wanted to say, do a PhD in theoretical physics (which is pretty competitive) then it would of course be advantageous to do as much theoretical physics as you can.
hiya, I know this is 6 years ago but I’m an A2 student in excatly the same position and mindset as you were!! I know it’s unlikely I’ll get a reply, but what did you end up doing and has it turned out okay?

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