Hi!
I'm applying for Durham and I'm not sure if I should choose Mathematics and Physics or Theoretical Physics. Does anyone have any insight into either of the degrees? Both are 4 years by the way.
You are Here:
Home
> Forums
>< Universities and HE colleges
>< North of England
>< Durham University

Theoretical Physics or Mathematics and Physics? watch talk to the uni Official Rep

maddepadde
 Follow
 0 followers
 0 badges
 Send a private message to maddepadde
 Thread Starter
Offline0ReputationRep: Follow
 1
 16102015 18:12

Absent Agent
 Follow
 77 followers
 21 badges
 Send a private message to Absent Agent
Offline21ReputationRep: Follow
 2
 16102015 18:35
(Original post by maddepadde)
Hi!
I'm applying for Durham and I'm not sure if I should choose Mathematics and Physics or Theoretical Physics. Does anyone have any insight into either of the degrees? Both are 4 years by the way.
Also, I think, you would have to study Mathematics anyway if you do Theoretical Physics but not in the same way if you chose Mathematics and Physics. For example, if you do Mathematical Physics, more emphasis is placed on Mathematics than Physics in a way that many people consider Mathematical Physics as a branch of Mathematics rather than Physics. So it really depends on you. You could look at the course syllabus to see which one you would prefer the most. 
maddepadde
 Follow
 0 followers
 0 badges
 Send a private message to maddepadde
 Thread Starter
Offline0ReputationRep: Follow
 3
 16102015 23:34
(Original post by Mehrdad jafari)
I have not studied any of those courses but I think Theoretical Physics is mostly about the Theoretical aspect of the course and less about Practical.
Also, I think, you would have to study Mathematics anyway if you do Theoretical Physics but not in the same way if you chose Mathematics and Physics. For example, if you do Mathematical Physics, more emphasis is placed on Mathematics than Physics in a way that many people consider Mathematical Physics as a branch of Mathematics rather than Physics. So it really depends on you. You could look at the course syllabus to see which one you would prefer the most. 
Absent Agent
 Follow
 77 followers
 21 badges
 Send a private message to Absent Agent
Offline21ReputationRep: Follow
 4
 16102015 23:49
(Original post by maddepadde)
Thanks for your reply! The problem is that Maths and Physics is a part of the Natural Science degree and doesn't list course content (not that I can find anyway). I don't want a degree in natural sciences but a joint honours degree in maths and physics. Someone told me a physics lecturer told them that a Mathematics and Physics degree will prepare you more for a career in Theoretical Physics than a Theoretical Physics degree, but I don't know. 
Unkempt_One
 Follow
 6 followers
 13 badges
 Send a private message to Unkempt_One
Offline13ReputationRep: Follow
 5
 18102015 18:27
Hi, I've graduated in Theoretical Physics so I'll try and answer some of your questions. This is almost overly detailed because I want to make sure you are fully informed.
First off, I'm a bit mystified that the descriptions of course content seem to have been simplified, but referring to the chart here (https://www.dur.ac.uk/physics/modules/2015/) to obtain the 'Theoretical Physics' degree title I needed to do:
Level 1: Foundations of Physics 1 and Discovery Skills in Physics
Level 2: All modules are compulsory
Level 3: Foundations of Physics 3A and 3B, Physics Problem Solving, Theoretical Physics 3 and Maths Workshop, the sixth module is optional
Level 4: Advanced Theoretical Physics, Particle Theory and Project, fourth module optional.
For Mathematics and Physics, the course content is here (http://www.maths.dur.ac.uk/php/natur...gramme=jh_msci).
Now, as you can see, there is an overlap in the first year content of the courses. If you take Foundations of Physics 1, Discovery Skills in Physics, Linear Algebra I, Calculus and Probability I, and Analysis I, then, although I think you should check this with the course director (who is very approachable in my experience), you can easily put off your choice between 'Theoretical Physics' and 'Mathematics and Physics' until the end of first year. This means, for instance, that you can change from studying those modules under the Natural Sciences program (as I did) to studying Theoretical Physics under the Physics department, and vice versa. You could even choose to simply do a Maths degree with that as your first year.
A remark on the Maths and Physics course. First off, I think you'll definitely want to take Discovery Skills in first year. Otherwise, you'll be forced to take Discovery Skills in second year which will be a complete bore. You'll then have to take either 2B or 3C (3C has the same lecture content as 2B) in third year, which will be easier and less interesting than the other modules. If you take Discovery Skills in first year you can take 2B at the appropriate year and then take a level 3 Physics module in third year, which would be preferable.
Now to answer your question  which you probably don't need to answer for another year and a half anyway  it simply depends on what options you want open to you and what you find more interesting. Theoretical Physics will give you the opportunity to explore a wider range of topics in physics, and more options if you want to go into Physics research in general. For instance, the Planets and Cosmology module has Stars and Galaxies as a prerequisite. In the Maths and Physics, you can take 'Stars and Galaxies' in third year at the earliest, AT THE EXCLUSION of Foundations of Physics 3B, which contains important theoretical content in condensed matter physics and statistical physics. So if you go down the Maths and Physics route, it becomes harder to explore the astrophysics and condensed matter routes. On the other hand, if you take Maths and Physics you will have a much stronger grounding in Mathematics. I would say that much of Theoretical Physics research is essentially mathematics, and on that basis I would agree that Maths and Physics better preparation for a career in Theoretical Physics. If you want to do something like string theory though, I'd argue it would be even better to do Mathematics and take modules like Quantum Mechanics III, rather than taking combinations like Electromagnetism III and Theoretical Physics 3 which I think will cover a lot of the same ground and dilute your mathematical training. However, Theoretical Physics, as a discipline, covers a large array of areas and I think there are more applied topics where you may just benefit from a general education in Physics, which you'll get with the 'Theoretical Physics' course.
Nonetheless, your options are open regardless of which program you are accepted on. So which do you apply for? That's actually a tricky question. Since the entry requirements for Physics are A*A*A, and Natural Sciences A*AA, I would take that as a signal that there might be less competition to be enrolled on Natural Sciences. However, the laissezfaire attitude to changing degree courses could change at any point, so I think it's safest to choose whichever you think you are more likely to want to do, which in your case would be Maths and Physics under Natural Sciences. You should then focus on demonstrating evidence of your academic ability in mathematics and physics. 
maddepadde
 Follow
 0 followers
 0 badges
 Send a private message to maddepadde
 Thread Starter
Offline0ReputationRep: Follow
 6
 18102015 21:26
(Original post by Unkempt_One)
Hi, I've graduated in Theoretical Physics so I'll try and answer some of your questions. This is almost overly detailed because I want to make sure you are fully informed.
First off, I'm a bit mystified that the descriptions of course content seem to have been simplified, but referring to the chart here (https://www.dur.ac.uk/physics/modules/2015/) to obtain the 'Theoretical Physics' degree title I needed to do:
Level 1: Foundations of Physics 1 and Discovery Skills in Physics
Level 2: All modules are compulsory
Level 3: Foundations of Physics 3A and 3B, Physics Problem Solving, Theoretical Physics 3 and Maths Workshop, the sixth module is optional
Level 4: Advanced Theoretical Physics, Particle Theory and Project, fourth module optional.
For Mathematics and Physics, the course content is here (http://www.maths.dur.ac.uk/php/natur...gramme=jh_msci).
Now, as you can see, there is an overlap in the first year content of the courses. If you take Foundations of Physics 1, Discovery Skills in Physics, Linear Algebra I, Calculus and Probability I, and Analysis I, then, although I think you should check this with the course director (who is very approachable in my experience), you can easily put off your choice between 'Theoretical Physics' and 'Mathematics and Physics' until the end of first year. This means, for instance, that you can change from studying those modules under the Natural Sciences program (as I did) to studying Theoretical Physics under the Physics department, and vice versa. You could even choose to simply do a Maths degree with that as your first year.
A remark on the Maths and Physics course. First off, I think you'll definitely want to take Discovery Skills in first year. Otherwise, you'll be forced to take Discovery Skills in second year which will be a complete bore. You'll then have to take either 2B or 3C (3C has the same lecture content as 2B) in third year, which will be easier and less interesting than the other modules. If you take Discovery Skills in first year you can take 2B at the appropriate year and then take a level 3 Physics module in third year, which would be preferable.
Now to answer your question  which you probably don't need to answer for another year and a half anyway  it simply depends on what options you want open to you and what you find more interesting. Theoretical Physics will give you the opportunity to explore a wider range of topics in physics, and more options if you want to go into Physics research in general. For instance, the Planets and Cosmology module has Stars and Galaxies as a prerequisite. In the Maths and Physics, you can take 'Stars and Galaxies' in third year at the earliest, AT THE EXCLUSION of Foundations of Physics 3B, which contains important theoretical content in condensed matter physics and statistical physics. So if you go down the Maths and Physics route, it becomes harder to explore the astrophysics and condensed matter routes. On the other hand, if you take Maths and Physics you will have a much stronger grounding in Mathematics. I would say that much of Theoretical Physics research is essentially mathematics, and on that basis I would agree that Maths and Physics better preparation for a career in Theoretical Physics. If you want to do something like string theory though, I'd argue it would be even better to do Mathematics and take modules like Quantum Mechanics III, rather than taking combinations like Electromagnetism III and Theoretical Physics 3 which I think will cover a lot of the same ground and dilute your mathematical training. However, Theoretical Physics, as a discipline, covers a large array of areas and I think there are more applied topics where you may just benefit from a general education in Physics, which you'll get with the 'Theoretical Physics' course.
Nonetheless, your options are open regardless of which program you are accepted on. So which do you apply for? That's actually a tricky question. Since the entry requirements for Physics are A*A*A, and Natural Sciences A*AA, I would take that as a signal that there might be less competition to be enrolled on Natural Sciences. However, the laissezfaire attitude to changing degree courses could change at any point, so I think it's safest to choose whichever you think you are more likely to want to do, which in your case would be Maths and Physics under Natural Sciences. You should then focus on demonstrating evidence of your academic ability in mathematics and physics.
wow! I cannot express how grateful I am for this. Thank you so much! My only remaining hesitation in choosing myths and physics is if I'll graduate with a degree in natural science or joint honours in mathematics and physics, do you know anything about this? 
Unkempt_One
 Follow
 6 followers
 13 badges
 Send a private message to Unkempt_One
Offline13ReputationRep: Follow
 7
 19102015 02:11
(Original post by maddepadde)
wow! I cannot express how grateful I am for this. Thank you so much! My only remaining hesitation in choosing myths and physics is if I'll graduate with a degree in natural science or joint honours in mathematics and physics, do you know anything about this? 
maddepadde
 Follow
 0 followers
 0 badges
 Send a private message to maddepadde
 Thread Starter
Offline0ReputationRep: Follow
 8
 19102015 11:49
(Original post by Unkempt_One)
As long as you follow the prescription here (http://www.maths.dur.ac.uk/php/natur...gramme=jh_msci) your degree title will be 'MSci in Mathematics and Physics'. 
Unkempt_One
 Follow
 6 followers
 13 badges
 Send a private message to Unkempt_One
Offline13ReputationRep: Follow
 9
 19102015 20:06
(Original post by maddepadde)
If I apply for Natural science Msci, am I guaranteed to be able to take Maths and Physics? Do I write anything about natural science in my Personal Statement or can I just leave it (I've written about single and joint honours courses in mathematics and physics)? 
maddepadde
 Follow
 0 followers
 0 badges
 Send a private message to maddepadde
 Thread Starter
Offline0ReputationRep: Follow
 10
 19102015 20:35
(Original post by Unkempt_One)
It says under 'Admissions Process' here (https://www.dur.ac.uk/natural.scienc...ve/mscinatsci/) that you'll be made an offer based on your declared subject interests (which I assume refers to your personal statement). So you'll need A*A in Maths and Further Maths and A*A in Maths and Physics. If you meet that offer you are guaranteed to study that course. 
Unkempt_One
 Follow
 6 followers
 13 badges
 Send a private message to Unkempt_One
Offline13ReputationRep: Follow
 11
 19102015 22:11
(Original post by maddepadde)
I found a link saying I should write, in order of preference, the abbreviated forms of the subject of interest in the further details box. I also decided to leave my PS as is as I don't want to study anything else and want to make that clear 
maddepadde
 Follow
 0 followers
 0 badges
 Send a private message to maddepadde
 Thread Starter
Offline0ReputationRep: Follow
 12
 19102015 22:44
Thank you!
 Theoretical Physics or Theoretical Physics with Mathematics?
 Theoretical Physics vs Physics and Mathematics
 Theoretical Physics vs Theoretical Physics and Applied ...
 Theoretical Physics vs. Mathematics.
 Theoretical Physics: Should I take the Mathematics or Natural ...
 Is a Maths degree a logical way into theoretical physics?
 Theoretical Physics: Physical NatSci or Mathematics?
 Theoretical Physics: Would the Cambridge Mathematics ...
 Mathematics, Physics or Computing?
 TPAM (Theoretical Physics with Applied Mathematics).

Primary Education with Foundation
Durham University

Durham University

Economics with Management with Business Placement
Durham University

Durham University

General Engineering with Foundation
Durham University

Durham University

Durham University

Durham University

Durham University

Combined Honours in Social Sciences
Durham University
 More on TSR about Durham University