# Theoretical Physics or Mathematics and Physics?

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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.

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.

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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.

**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.

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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.

**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.

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#4

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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.

**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.

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#5

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

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 laissez-faire 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.

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 laissez-faire 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.

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(Original post by

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

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 laissez-faire 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.

**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 laissez-faire 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?

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#7

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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**)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?

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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**)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'.

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#9

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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**)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)?

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(Original post by

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**)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.

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#11

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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**)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

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