Cambridge: switching to natural sciences in year 2

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jojicr7
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Anyone who knows a lot about the natural sciences and/or the mathematics Tripos in the University of Cambridge:
I’m planning to take the mathematics with physics in Year 1 (Part1A) then switch to physical Natural Sciences in Year 2 (Part 1B), because I don’t like the idea of combining a broad range of sciences (Earth Sciences, Cell Biology etc) in the first year and would rather do math. My main focus is Physics. So:
1. Is such a switch possible? If so, in Year 2 (Part 1B), what are the options that I’d be able to read? I want to mainly take the Physics options, Mathematics, or Chemistry. But since I didn’t do chem in year 1, would I still be eligible to take it?
2. Any pros/cons of making this switch?
3. In the first year, the mathematics with physics option means that I would do the same physics component as the people from natural sciences. Does that mean I’d be in the same lectures/classes/labs as the people who chose the physics option in Natural Sciences?

Thanks in advance
edit: Also, do you have to specifically apply for NatSci in year 2 or can you just, switch?
Last edited by jojicr7; 1 year ago
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artful_lounger
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Yes, they have a formal arrangement between the mathematics and natural sciences triposes for Part IA Maths with Physics students to continue in Part IB NatSci. I imagine the expectation would be that students would take the two IB Physics options plus IB Maths for NatSci, although you could potentially take psychology or HPS, or even maybe one of the bioscience options that doesn't formally require a IA background in the biosciences. You probably wouldn't be able to take any other physical science options (e.g. material science, chemistry, earth sciences).

You would be doing the same lectures and labs as Part IA Physics students in the maths with physics option (you would give up two lecture courses in maths to "make room" for this, although there are optional lectures to cover some of the non-overlapping material in case you want to continue in maths and need that for later courses). To my knowledge you don't need to indicate your intention to go into NatSci for Part IB.
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Sophhhowa
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It’s a common switch assuming you take all the physics modules from maths in yr1 and then NatSci in yr 2 (so physics A, B and maths). I don’t think u can take chem tho.

If you apply for maths with physics I believe you can just switch pretty easily
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Reality Check
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(Original post by jojicr7)
Anyone who knows a lot about the natural sciences and/or the mathematics Tripos in the University of Cambridge:
I’m planning to take the mathematics with physics in Year 1 (Part1A) then switch to physical Natural Sciences in Year 2 (Part 1B), because I don’t like the idea of combining a broad range of sciences (Earth Sciences, Cell Biology etc) in the first year and would rather do math. My main focus is Physics. So:
1. Is such a switch possible? If so, in Year 2 (Part 1B), what are the options that I’d be able to read? I want to mainly take the Physics options, Mathematics, or Chemistry. But since I didn’t do chem in year 1, would I still be eligible to take it?
2. Any pros/cons of making this switch?
3. In the first year, the mathematics with physics option means that I would do the same physics component as the people from natural sciences. Does that mean I’d be in the same lectures/classes/labs as the people who chose the physics option in Natural Sciences?

Thanks in advance
edit: Also, do you have to specifically apply for NatSci in year 2 or can you just, switch?
1. Look at the IB options on the natsci cam page. It lists the options you can do. You can't do chemistry IB if you didn't do it at IA, or at least not when I was doing natsci.

2. No, but I don't understand why you're not just applying for physical natsci rather than all this faffing about changing tripos. Have you researched whether you can actually do what you want to do within Natsci? I think you probably can.

3. Yes, probably.

(4). See 2. I personally would just apply for Natsci, choosing maths and physics options at IA. It's frowned on to apply for a course which you intend to switch away from at the point of application, as this could be seen as trying to gain an unfair advantage (though with your choices, this is less likely).
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Peterhouse Admissions
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Completely agree with artful_lounger (apologies, couldn't rep you!). This is very much a recognised option and people do it every year. You would not be able to do Chemistry in your second year and would most likely be restricted to doing Maths, Physics A and Physics B (or possibly HPS) in your second year. If you would like a broader choice, you could take Natural Sciences and try something like Materials Science. I know several students who have started out as committed Physicists but have discovered that they really love Materials and have ended up doing a Masters in it!
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R T
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(Original post by jojicr7)
Anyone who knows a lot about the natural sciences and/or the mathematics Tripos in the University of Cambridge:
I’m planning to take the mathematics with physics in Year 1 (Part1A) then switch to physical Natural Sciences in Year 2 (Part 1B), because I don’t like the idea of combining a broad range of sciences (Earth Sciences, Cell Biology etc) in the first year and would rather do math. My main focus is Physics. So:
1. Is such a switch possible? If so, in Year 2 (Part 1B), what are the options that I’d be able to read? I want to mainly take the Physics options, Mathematics, or Chemistry. But since I didn’t do chem in year 1, would I still be eligible to take it?
2. Any pros/cons of making this switch?
3. In the first year, the mathematics with physics option means that I would do the same physics component as the people from natural sciences. Does that mean I’d be in the same lectures/classes/labs as the people who chose the physics option in Natural Sciences?

Thanks in advance
edit: Also, do you have to specifically apply for NatSci in year 2 or can you just, switch?
Switching from Maths into Natural Sciences is one of the most common tripos switches.

But to be clear about NatSci IB - you do not have the flexibility you seem to suggest. If your ultimate aim is to do Part II Physics (under natural Sciences) it is heavily, heavily advised to do Physics A, Physics B and Mathematics as your IB options. Doing this would not leave any room for studying a biology module or Earth Sciences (this kind of flexibility is pretty much unique to IA Natural Sciences). You could possibly not take one of the IB recommended modules, but I think it will hurt your chances and I'm aware (although not knowing specifics) that part II itself can be competitive in Natural Sciences. Most Biology courses don't turn anyone away, but the number of places in part II Physics is not unlimited and preference will be shown for students who do Phys/Phys/Maths as their IB options first. The recommended situation here would be to try and take 4 modules in IB, not 3, and then not take your studies for 1 into the actual tripos exams. For example, if you didn't "officially" sit IB mathematics, but went to every lecture and did all the supervision work, this would keep the door/options for part II physics open. But of course doing 4 modules when the course is built for people to take 3 is a heavy strain on your time and effort.

Specifically aimed at Chemistry (if you are serious about this) or similar IB modules which require the IA option - to satisfy this you would need to take a similar approach. Make your DoS aware in IA that you intend on doing IB Natural Sciences and you want to do Chemistry A/Physics/Physics and it's possible they will let you do the IA practical classes as well as sitting in on lectures (you will miss maths lectures to go to chemistry lectures FYI) and doing supervision work for IA Chemistry.

More likely, if you voice this preference - the DoS will (rightfully imo) say "well why not just officially do IA Natural Sciences and do Maths, Physics, Chemistry and XXXX". If you have a strong interest in maths, its' probably more flexible to visit the IA maths lectures and ask to do the supervisions for them along with the mathematicians.

To make it clear - if your ambitions are solely based on part II physics, you are not disadvantaged by doing IA natural sciences instead of IA Maths+Physics. Particularly as its much easier to self-teach or catchup on Maths (compared to Chemistry).
2. Any pros/cons of making this switch?
Studying advanced maths is helpful for physicists, but if you actually want to study Chemistry, Physics, Earth Sciences, etc... then you should apply/ switch to NatSci ASAP, instead of doing an entire year of Maths.
3. In the first year, the mathematics with physics option means that I would do the same physics component as the people from natural sciences. Does that mean I’d be in the same lectures/classes/labs as the people who chose the physics option in Natural Sciences?
Yes, Mathematicians do the same classes.

My experience with doing "extra modules" is that actually all departments are quite keen to not impede students from doing more. If you are keen and have earnest ambitions then you won't be stopped by the college or department, but you should expect to (rightly) be warned about the amount of work it would be to do this. Both Natural Sciences and Mathematics are considered very tough courses even when you "just" do the mandatory number of modules
Last edited by R T; 1 year ago
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