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Is it bad to specialise at BSc level? watch

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    Hey. So I'm currently holding two offers from Keele; one is for Astrophysics and Math, the other is for Biology and Math.

    One of them (Astro) seems more specialised to me, is that necessarily a bad thing? I'm aware in the Humanities it's not helpful (eg "Medieval History" opposed to just "History" ), not sure for sciences.

    If it helps, my postgrad plans would be either MSc/PhD Astro or MSc Biomedical Engineering. Which are specialised in their own right, but it seems more acceptable to do at MSc level.

    Thanks!
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    (Original post by CastCuraga)
    Hey. So I'm currently holding two offers from Keele; one is for Astrophysics and Math, the other is for Biology and Math.

    One of them (Astro) seems more specialised to me, is that necessarily a bad thing? I'm aware in the Humanities it's not helpful (eg "Medieval History" opposed to just "History" ), not sure for sciences.

    If it helps, my postgrad plans would be either MSc/PhD Astro or MSc Biomedical Engineering. Which are specialised in their own right, but it seems more acceptable to do at MSc level.

    Thanks!
    They're vastly different fields so I'm surprised you are choosing between them at this stage. And no it's fine to have specific interests at this stage. Even astrophysics is quite broad.
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    (Original post by alleycat393)
    They're vastly different fields so I'm surprised you are choosing between them at this stage. And no it's fine to have specific interests at this stage. Even astrophysics is quite broad.
    I like Biology and Physics evenly, I just couldn't find a joint honours course in them. And that's good to hear, thank you. I know I have issues with decision-making, so I wanted to make sure my options were open and not..."pigeon holed".
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    (Original post by CastCuraga)
    I like Biology and Physics evenly, I just couldn't find a joint honours course in them. And that's good to hear, thank you. I know I have issues with decision-making, so I wanted to make sure my options were open and not..."pigeon holed".
    Doubtful. If you could really specialise at undergrad level we wouldn't bother with higher degrees so don't worry
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    (Original post by alleycat393)
    Doubtful. If you could really specialise at undergrad level we wouldn't bother with higher degrees so don't worry
    Fair point! Thank you all the same
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    Just checking you know that biomedical engineering is more engineering/maths than biology, right? Just in case that's the only reason you're considering biology & maths at undergrad.
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    (Original post by Duncan2012)
    Just checking you know that biomedical engineering is more engineering/maths than biology, right? Just in case that's the only reason you're considering biology & maths at undergrad.
    Oh definitely, BME was something I was considering as a postgrad from either Astro/Math or Bio/Math. The problem was more if Astrophysics was too specific compared to the broadness of Biology ^^
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    My gut is that doing a combined course in Physics/Maths would be less of an impediment to doing a BME MSc than doing an undergrad in Bio/Maths would be for doing an MSc in Astrophysics. In general, it's easier to move from the "hard" sciences (Maths, Physics, Engineering) to the sofer ones rather than the other way around.

    That said, I'm not sure how much the fact that it's Astrophysics rather than plain Physics would come into play here - it probably depends on how many of the modules are actually specialised and how much maths you do relative to Astro.
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    (Original post by Indigo&Violet)
    My gut is that doing a combined course in Physics/Maths would be less of an impediment to doing a BME MSc than doing an undergrad in Bio/Maths would be for doing an MSc in Astrophysics. In general, it's easier to move from the "hard" sciences (Maths, Physics, Engineering) to the sofer ones rather than the other way around.

    That said, I'm not sure how much the fact that it's Astrophysics rather than plain Physics would come into play here - it probably depends on how many of the modules are actually specialised and how much maths you do relative to Astro.
    Apologies; should have made it clearer the Astrophysics MSc would've only been if I took Astro at BSc. Keele states you need a "physical science", and I think Math counts as a Natural Science.

    From what you've said though it does sound as though Astro/Math would open up both doors to me while Bio/Math might impede me in both.

    Think I'll just go with Astro/Math seeing what's been said here. Thank you!
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    (Original post by CastCuraga)
    Hey. So I'm currently holding two offers from Keele; one is for Astrophysics and Math, the other is for Biology and Math.

    One of them (Astro) seems more specialised to me, is that necessarily a bad thing? I'm aware in the Humanities it's not helpful (eg "Medieval History" opposed to just "History" ), not sure for sciences.

    If it helps, my postgrad plans would be either MSc/PhD Astro or MSc Biomedical Engineering. Which are specialised in their own right, but it seems more acceptable to do at MSc level.

    Thanks!
    normally with degrees like 'astrophysics' you do the same content as someone who does regular physics but you wont get any/many optional modules, the uni pre chooses them for you where as a straight physics student will get a choice out of a range of optional modules (including the ones you're doing)

    Also you will have a few lab sessions that are different

    it wont affect what you can do with the degree, you will be able to go onto the same masters/phd courses with physics vs astrophysics. The only time it normally makes a difference is if you do something like theoretical physics where it cuts out lab work and adds in extra maths
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    (Original post by CastCuraga)
    Hey. So I'm currently holding two offers from Keele; one is for Astrophysics and Math, the other is for Biology and Math.

    One of them (Astro) seems more specialised to me, is that necessarily a bad thing? I'm aware in the Humanities it's not helpful (eg "Medieval History" opposed to just "History" ), not sure for sciences.

    If it helps, my postgrad plans would be either MSc/PhD Astro or MSc Biomedical Engineering. Which are specialised in their own right, but it seems more acceptable to do at MSc level.

    Thanks!
    Only if you don't know what area of the broader subject you are interested in. For example, if you like Physics but don't know the area in Physics that particularly interests you and you want to focus on, you would be advised not to do Astronomy and instead just do a Physics degree because you can specialise in third year. However, if you know you would rather do Astrophysics than Biology, it's not a problem at all! Just firm the one that you feel most comfortable in and enjoy the most
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    (Original post by tooschool4cool)
    Only if you don't know what area of the broader subject you are interested in. For example, if you like Physics but don't know the area in Physics that particularly interests you and you want to focus on, you would be advised not to do Astronomy and instead just do a Physics degree because you can specialise in third year. However, if you know you would rather do Astrophysics than Biology, it's not a problem at all! Just firm the one that you feel most comfortable in and enjoy the most
    tbf you dont really know what area of physics is going to interest you until you start doing proper physics (which starts at uni really) which is why the difference between a astrophysics degree and a straight physics degree is normally just the optional modules you take (they are preset for astro where as you would get to choose between astro and other physics optional modules that the uni offers) , all the core stuff is the same.

    Saying you like one bit of physics over the other without studying it properly is like saying what your favourite food is just by looking at pictures of food rather than actually tasting them
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    (Original post by madmadmax321)
    tbf you dont really know what area of physics is going to interest you until you start doing proper physics (which starts at uni really) which is why the difference between a astrophysics degree and a straight physics degree is normally just the optional modules you take (they are preset for astro where as you would get to choose between astro and other physics optional modules that the uni offers) , all the core stuff is the same.

    Saying you like one bit of physics over the other without studying it properly is like saying what your favourite food is just by looking at pictures of food rather than actually tasting them
    Of course I agree, but all subjects are condensed at A-Level, and it is possible that if OP had applied for a physics degree he would have found that an entirely different area of physics interested him the most. Unfortunately, we are not able to study all our subjects in enough depth at A-Level to know which parts genuinely interest us the most, so we have to take an idea based on what we particularly enjoyed at A-Level. I'm sure OP has done plenty of extra reading and research around astrophysics so he has a clearer idea of what it is than someone who just studied an astrophysics module at A-Level
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    (Original post by tooschool4cool)
    Of course I agree, but all subjects are condensed at A-Level, and it is possible that if OP had applied for a physics degree he would have found that an entirely different area of physics interested him the most. Unfortunately, we are not able to study all our subjects in enough depth at A-Level to know which parts genuinely interest us the most, so we have to take an idea based on what we particularly enjoyed at A-Level. I'm sure OP has done plenty of extra reading and research around astrophysics so he has a clearer idea of what it is than someone who just studied an astrophysics module at A-Level
    I assume you are not doing a physics degree now?



    topics in A-level physics (imo) are no representation of what they are like at uni (except linear mechanics) and no indicator of whether or not you will like a topic at uni.

    I cant really describe to you how different A-level physics is to uni physics

    Unis keep the first few years of a physics vs astrophysics degree very similar (normally) because they understand this issue of a physics a-level and popular science reading being so different to what it is actually like to do physics

    Where as the above is not normally true for other subjects, most a-level subjects are a small representation of their uni subjects, physics is not in any way
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    (Original post by madmadmax321)
    I assume you are not doing a physics degree now?



    topics in A-level physics (imo) are no representation of what they are like at uni (except linear mechanics) and no indicator of whether or not you will like a topic at uni.

    I cant really describe to you how different A-level physics is to uni physics

    Unis keep the first few years of a physics vs astrophysics degree very similar (normally) because they understand this issue of a physics a-level and popular science reading being so different to what it is actually like to do physics

    Where as the above is not normally true for other subjects, most a-level subjects are a small representation of their uni subjects, physics is not in any way
    Yes, I do agree with everything you say, but OP has already applied for their degree, so if they prefer physics to or are better at it than biology, I suggest they firm Astrophysics and Maths, as opposed to Biology and Maths
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    (Original post by tooschool4cool)
    Yes, I do agree with everything you say, but OP has already applied for their degree, so if they prefer physics to or are better at it than biology, I suggest they firm Astrophysics and Maths, as opposed to Biology and Maths
    (Original post by madmadmax321)
    I assume you are not doing a physics degree now?

    topics in A-level physics (imo) are no representation of what they are like at uni (except linear mechanics) and no indicator of whether or not you will like a topic at uni.

    I cant really describe to you how different A-level physics is to uni physics

    Unis keep the first few years of a physics vs astrophysics degree very similar (normally) because they understand this issue of a physics a-level and popular science reading being so different to what it is actually like to do physics

    Where as the above is not normally true for other subjects, most a-level subjects are a small representation of their uni subjects, physics is not in any way
    Thanks to you both for your views, it's helpful to see how uni differs from A2.

    I should give more info; I know pretty well what goes into Astro having grown up with someone that practically lived and breathed it, but I admit I haven't studied further than A2 myself. I did better in Biology (A* compared to high B in Phys) but I do prefer Physics.

    To be honest I would prefer to study Astrophysics, but I do appreciate that I can't fully know what goes into it without doing it higher than A2. It's not the only area that interests me though, I liked Mechanics, Radioactivity, Medical Physics etc at A Level as well.

    The legitimate concern was just that Astro was too narrow to do anything except Astro with, and while I love it now, I don't know what I'll feel in 4 years and might want to drop onto my other main interest, which was BME.

    Again thank you both for your info, I think I have a clearer idea going into this now. :yep:
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    (Original post by CastCuraga)
    Thanks to you both for your views, it's helpful to see how uni differs from A2.

    I should give more info; I know pretty well what goes into Astro having grown up with someone that practically lived and breathed it, but I admit I haven't studied further than A2 myself. I did better in Biology (A* compared to high B in Phys) but I do prefer Physics.

    To be honest I would prefer to study Astrophysics, but I do appreciate that I can't fully know what goes into it without doing it higher than A2. It's not the only area that interests me though, I liked Mechanics, Radioactivity, Medical Physics etc at A Level as well.

    The legitimate concern was just that Astro was too narrow to do anything except Astro with, and while I love it now, I don't know what I'll feel in 4 years and might want to drop onto my other main interest, which was BME.

    Again thank you both for your info, I think I have a clearer idea going into this now. :yep:
    I would go for astrophysics + maths then, if a BME msc accepts physics grads they will accept astrophysics too due to the fact that the core content covered is the same (its just they wont list every mini specialism of a subject due to the fact there is little difference between them)

    As for the grade thing I wouldnt worry too much about it, your grade in maths is much much more important than your grade in physics, and it is a better indicate to how well you will cope with uni physics

    My only 'warning' is make sure you know what careers are open to you with the degree and you will be happy doing a few of them as chances are you wont work in astrophysics (if thats your plan) as it is SUPER competitive, maybe 1-2 people out of a cohort of 100-130 will go on to make a career in research (which is where people do astrophysics)
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    (Original post by madmadmax321)
    I would go for astrophysics + maths then, if a BME msc accepts physics grads they will accept astrophysics too due to the fact that the core content covered is the same (its just they wont list every mini specialism of a subject due to the fact there is little difference between them)

    As for the grade thing I wouldnt worry too much about it, your grade in maths is much much more important than your grade in physics, and it is a better indicate to how well you will cope with uni physics
    I'm sitting that this summer actually, averaging around a B at A2. Hoping to push that to A, but is that good enough for uni do you think?
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    (Original post by CastCuraga)
    I'm sitting that this summer actually, averaging around a B at A2. Hoping to push that to A, but is that good enough for uni do you think?
    You should be fine as long as you put the a good amount of (the right) work in. Also some parts are much more relevant than others.

    Things like stats arent really important (labs use some but not loads of complex stuff) where as things like calculus, ODEs, linear algebra (think this is in further maths), trigonometry etc etc is used more

    Also if you havent done further maths I would have a read over FP1,2,3 as maths at uni (as a subject rather than the maths in physics) can be a bit of a shock, its lots of theorems, proofs etc rather than mathematical methods (which is what C1-4 is really and what the maths in a physics degree is like).

    also made a little edit in my other post, give that a read if you want to go into astrophysics as a career but havent read much about it
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    (Original post by madmadmax321)
    You should be fine as long as you put the a good amount of (the right) work in. Also some parts are much more relevant than others.

    Things like stats arent really important (labs use some but not loads of complex stuff) where as things like calculus, ODEs, linear algebra (think this is in further maths), trigonometry etc etc is used more

    Also if you havent done further maths I would have a read over FP1,2,3 as maths at uni (as a subject rather than the maths in physics) can be a bit of a shock, its lots of theorems, proofs etc rather than mathematical methods (which is what C1-4 is really and what the maths in a physics degree is like).
    Aye, I took M1 and M2 for that reason. D1 or D2 wouldn't have hurt for the coding aspects of Astro, mind.

    I didn't do FM but I've looked over M3/4/5, will check out FP1-3 over the summer as well. Thanks for the heads-up. I take it you do Physics?
 
 
 
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