# Maths or Physics degree

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I’m stuck as to which to apply for for numerous reasons:

1. I’ve consistently enjoyed maths more than physics in school, and only more recently has physics become more interesting to me, which I attribute to the addition of more maths. I tend to enjoy the mathematical mechanics questions and circuits questions, but I find the longer writing questions very boring, so I can’t decided whether I’m actually enjoying the physics or just there being more maths. I find the theory in physics very interesting, but whenever any applications get mentioned (e.g. car safety) I find it incredibly boring. How does this compare to degree level physics?

2. I feel my application to physics will be stronger - I’m on track to qualify for the Isaac Physics Senior Physics Challenge, I’m confident I can get a gold on the AS physics challenge, I’m attending an Isaac physics masterclass in a few weeks, I’ve been giving lecture on physics at school, all of which I think will prove my interest in physics more than I can in maths - I’ve been working through a couple books, I’ve been doing some BMO questions in my own time and thats about it (I only got a silver on the senior maths challenge).

3. I’ve been leaning towards maths but I think for the wrong reasons - the earnings figures are better and that if you want to go into theoretical physics maths is a better background ( when I know in reality I almost certain I won’t go beyond a masters degree). There is also a lot of physics in a maths degree so I feel like I might not miss out on the physics this way, whereas I might miss out on some maths by doing physics (but maths that I’m not even sure I enjoy).

4. I will be applying to Oxford or Cambridge and I have a feeling that regardless of the applications statistics the people applying to maths might be of a higher standard. So it might be easier to get in for say natsci and I might enjoy it more as I might be less out of my depth compared to others on the course.

I feel like Maths with physics at Cambridge would be my ideal course, but I don’t know if that is just me convincing myself that I enjoy proof based maths because the earnings figures are better when in reality I’d be doing a lot of maths on a physics degree that is more like the maths I enjoy at school ( the idea of proofs interests me, the more rigorous books I’ve read on mathematics are interest me, but whenever I come to write a proof I always find it less interesting than problems where you just find an answer.)

If anyone decipher this mess and come up with an answer it would be appreciated.:

Edit: I’m also not quite sure how I would structure a personal statement If I do apply for both maths with physics and another physics course (e.g. theoretical physics at imperial) as It might seem to imperial that I don’t care enough about physics if I spend majority of the time talking about maths.

1. I’ve consistently enjoyed maths more than physics in school, and only more recently has physics become more interesting to me, which I attribute to the addition of more maths. I tend to enjoy the mathematical mechanics questions and circuits questions, but I find the longer writing questions very boring, so I can’t decided whether I’m actually enjoying the physics or just there being more maths. I find the theory in physics very interesting, but whenever any applications get mentioned (e.g. car safety) I find it incredibly boring. How does this compare to degree level physics?

2. I feel my application to physics will be stronger - I’m on track to qualify for the Isaac Physics Senior Physics Challenge, I’m confident I can get a gold on the AS physics challenge, I’m attending an Isaac physics masterclass in a few weeks, I’ve been giving lecture on physics at school, all of which I think will prove my interest in physics more than I can in maths - I’ve been working through a couple books, I’ve been doing some BMO questions in my own time and thats about it (I only got a silver on the senior maths challenge).

3. I’ve been leaning towards maths but I think for the wrong reasons - the earnings figures are better and that if you want to go into theoretical physics maths is a better background ( when I know in reality I almost certain I won’t go beyond a masters degree). There is also a lot of physics in a maths degree so I feel like I might not miss out on the physics this way, whereas I might miss out on some maths by doing physics (but maths that I’m not even sure I enjoy).

4. I will be applying to Oxford or Cambridge and I have a feeling that regardless of the applications statistics the people applying to maths might be of a higher standard. So it might be easier to get in for say natsci and I might enjoy it more as I might be less out of my depth compared to others on the course.

I feel like Maths with physics at Cambridge would be my ideal course, but I don’t know if that is just me convincing myself that I enjoy proof based maths because the earnings figures are better when in reality I’d be doing a lot of maths on a physics degree that is more like the maths I enjoy at school ( the idea of proofs interests me, the more rigorous books I’ve read on mathematics are interest me, but whenever I come to write a proof I always find it less interesting than problems where you just find an answer.)

If anyone decipher this mess and come up with an answer it would be appreciated.:

Edit: I’m also not quite sure how I would structure a personal statement If I do apply for both maths with physics and another physics course (e.g. theoretical physics at imperial) as It might seem to imperial that I don’t care enough about physics if I spend majority of the time talking about maths.

Last edited by OlivEuler; 1 month ago

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#2

(Original post by

I’m stuck as to which to apply for for numerous reasons:

1. I’ve consistently enjoyed maths more than physics in school, and only more recently has physics become more interesting to me, which I attribute to the addition of more maths. I tend to enjoy the mathematical mechanics questions and circuits questions, but I find the longer writing questions very boring, so I can’t decided whether I’m actually enjoying the physics or just there being more maths. I find the theory in physics very interesting, but whenever any applications get mentioned (e.g. car safety) I find it incredibly boring. How does this compare to degree level physics?

2. I feel my application to physics will be stronger - I’m on track to qualify for the Isaac Physics Senior Physics Challenge, I’m confident I can get a gold on the AS physics challenge, I’m attending an Isaac physics masterclass in a few weeks, I’ve been giving lecture on physics at school, all of which I think will prove my interest in physics more than I can in maths - I’ve been working through a couple books, I’ve been doing some BMO questions in my own time and thats about it (I only got a silver on the senior maths challenge).

3. I’ve been leaning towards maths but I think for the wrong reasons - the earnings figures are better and that if you want to go into theoretical physics maths is a better background ( when I know in reality I almost certain I won’t go beyond a masters degree). There is also a lot of physics in a maths degree so I feel like I might not miss out on the physics this way, whereas I might miss out on some maths by doing physics (but maths that I’m not even sure I enjoy).

4. I will be applying to Oxford or Cambridge and I have a feeling that regardless of the applications statistics the people applying to maths might be of a higher standard. So it might be easier to get in for say natsci and I might enjoy it more as I might be less out of my depth compared to others on the course.

I feel like Maths with physics at Cambridge would be my ideal course, but I don’t know if that is just me convincing myself that I enjoy proof based maths because the earnings figures are better when in reality I’d be doing a lot of maths on a physics degree that is more like the maths I enjoy at school ( the idea of proofs interests me, the more rigorous books I’ve read on mathematics are interest me, but whenever I come to write a proof I always find it less interesting than problems where you just find an answer.)

If anyone decipher this mess and come up with an answer it would be appreciated.:

**OlivEuler**)I’m stuck as to which to apply for for numerous reasons:

1. I’ve consistently enjoyed maths more than physics in school, and only more recently has physics become more interesting to me, which I attribute to the addition of more maths. I tend to enjoy the mathematical mechanics questions and circuits questions, but I find the longer writing questions very boring, so I can’t decided whether I’m actually enjoying the physics or just there being more maths. I find the theory in physics very interesting, but whenever any applications get mentioned (e.g. car safety) I find it incredibly boring. How does this compare to degree level physics?

2. I feel my application to physics will be stronger - I’m on track to qualify for the Isaac Physics Senior Physics Challenge, I’m confident I can get a gold on the AS physics challenge, I’m attending an Isaac physics masterclass in a few weeks, I’ve been giving lecture on physics at school, all of which I think will prove my interest in physics more than I can in maths - I’ve been working through a couple books, I’ve been doing some BMO questions in my own time and thats about it (I only got a silver on the senior maths challenge).

3. I’ve been leaning towards maths but I think for the wrong reasons - the earnings figures are better and that if you want to go into theoretical physics maths is a better background ( when I know in reality I almost certain I won’t go beyond a masters degree). There is also a lot of physics in a maths degree so I feel like I might not miss out on the physics this way, whereas I might miss out on some maths by doing physics (but maths that I’m not even sure I enjoy).

4. I will be applying to Oxford or Cambridge and I have a feeling that regardless of the applications statistics the people applying to maths might be of a higher standard. So it might be easier to get in for say natsci and I might enjoy it more as I might be less out of my depth compared to others on the course.

I feel like Maths with physics at Cambridge would be my ideal course, but I don’t know if that is just me convincing myself that I enjoy proof based maths because the earnings figures are better when in reality I’d be doing a lot of maths on a physics degree that is more like the maths I enjoy at school ( the idea of proofs interests me, the more rigorous books I’ve read on mathematics are interest me, but whenever I come to write a proof I always find it less interesting than problems where you just find an answer.)

If anyone decipher this mess and come up with an answer it would be appreciated.:

Perhaps a combined physics & mathematics course (I think warwick has a very good combined course).

I think the pure side of maths is likely to get more abstract at university. I also don’t think you’ll be spending lots of time looking at random physics applications in a physics degree, you’ll look more at the natural side of physics & the underlying mathematics of it.

This is jus my thoughts but I studied engineering not physics or maths.

Perhaps someone who has one of these degrees can comment.

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(Original post by

My guess is you would enjoy a theoretical physics degree.

Perhaps a combined physics & mathematics course (I think warwick has a very good combined course).

I think the pure side of maths is likely to get more abstract at university. I also don’t think you’ll be spending lots of time looking at random physics applications in a physics degree, you’ll look more at the natural side of physics & the underlying mathematics of it.

This is jus my thoughts but I studied engineering not physics or maths.

Perhaps someone who has one of these degrees can comment.

**mnot**)My guess is you would enjoy a theoretical physics degree.

Perhaps a combined physics & mathematics course (I think warwick has a very good combined course).

I think the pure side of maths is likely to get more abstract at university. I also don’t think you’ll be spending lots of time looking at random physics applications in a physics degree, you’ll look more at the natural side of physics & the underlying mathematics of it.

This is jus my thoughts but I studied engineering not physics or maths.

Perhaps someone who has one of these degrees can comment.

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#4

(Original post by

The Warwick maths and physics course does look interesting, I’m just not so sure how good a reputation it has for physics, but I know that it has great maths reputation.

**OlivEuler**)The Warwick maths and physics course does look interesting, I’m just not so sure how good a reputation it has for physics, but I know that it has great maths reputation.

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#5

Undergraduate physics is very different to A-level, thankfully. It's probably more like a continuation of A-level maths than a maths degree would be.

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#6

I was in a similar situation as you, personally, I recommend Maths for higher studies, just because of the great amount of flexibility and understanding you develop. HOWEVER, it is considered one of the hardest degree subjects. If you ask me I'll say it's not hard, it requires lots of effort and out of box thinking. If you really wanna study physics with maths as main, apply for maths as main, then choose the physics modules in your subject.

BUT don't pick maths if you don't enjoy a good challenge, because you will hate it. Likewise, don't pick physics if you struggle to imagine. advanced physics topic runs mainly on your ability to imagine.

Additionally, as Sinnoh mentioned, IF you want to do maths degree, Its Crucial and recommended you study FM (particularly the FP1 and FP2). because this sorta helps reduce the impact of the jump from a-level to a degree.

FM is also useful for physics because there is a LOT( A LOT) of maths.

If you enjoy letting your imagination run wild and crazy, then theoretical physics might be for you (I really don't know much about theoretical physics so you are welcome to ignore this.)

as for personal statement, you could start it off by talking about your interest in physics, then link it to your "Isaac Physics Senior Physics Challenge" then tell then you gained an understanding of the importance of maths in physics than just demonstrating you joy towards maths, this could be through studying maths-related books, or studying something outside your a-levels; extra-curricular, then go on to showing skills, work experience, etc.

as for point number 2, for MOST people this is true, don't worry about it, just find other reasons, and make them strong

BUT don't pick maths if you don't enjoy a good challenge, because you will hate it. Likewise, don't pick physics if you struggle to imagine. advanced physics topic runs mainly on your ability to imagine.

Additionally, as Sinnoh mentioned, IF you want to do maths degree, Its Crucial and recommended you study FM (particularly the FP1 and FP2). because this sorta helps reduce the impact of the jump from a-level to a degree.

FM is also useful for physics because there is a LOT( A LOT) of maths.

If you enjoy letting your imagination run wild and crazy, then theoretical physics might be for you (I really don't know much about theoretical physics so you are welcome to ignore this.)

as for personal statement, you could start it off by talking about your interest in physics, then link it to your "Isaac Physics Senior Physics Challenge" then tell then you gained an understanding of the importance of maths in physics than just demonstrating you joy towards maths, this could be through studying maths-related books, or studying something outside your a-levels; extra-curricular, then go on to showing skills, work experience, etc.

as for point number 2, for MOST people this is true, don't worry about it, just find other reasons, and make them strong

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(Original post by

I was in a similar situation as you, personally, I recommend Maths for higher studies, just because of the great amount of flexibility and understanding you develop. HOWEVER, it is considered one of the hardest degree subjects. If you ask me I'll say it's not hard, it requires lots of effort and out of box thinking. If you really wanna study physics with maths as main, apply for maths as main, then choose the physics modules in your subject.

BUT don't pick maths if you don't enjoy a good challenge, because you will hate it. Likewise, don't pick physics if you struggle to imagine. advanced physics topic runs mainly on your ability to imagine.

Additionally, as Sinnoh mentioned, IF you want to do maths degree, Its Crucial and recommended you study FM (particularly the FP1 and FP2). because this sorta helps reduce the impact of the jump from a-level to a degree.

FM is also useful for physics because there is a LOT( A LOT) of maths.

If you enjoy letting your imagination run wild and crazy, then theoretical physics might be for you (I really don't know much about theoretical physics so you are welcome to ignore this.)

as for personal statement, you could start it off by talking about your interest in physics, then link it to your "Isaac Physics Senior Physics Challenge" then tell then you gained an understanding of the importance of maths in physics than just demonstrating you joy towards maths, this could be through studying maths-related books, or studying something outside your a-levels; extra-curricular, then go on to showing skills, work experience, etc.

as for point number 2, for MOST people this is true, don't worry about it, just find other reasons, and make them strong

**14yalamanchilig**)I was in a similar situation as you, personally, I recommend Maths for higher studies, just because of the great amount of flexibility and understanding you develop. HOWEVER, it is considered one of the hardest degree subjects. If you ask me I'll say it's not hard, it requires lots of effort and out of box thinking. If you really wanna study physics with maths as main, apply for maths as main, then choose the physics modules in your subject.

BUT don't pick maths if you don't enjoy a good challenge, because you will hate it. Likewise, don't pick physics if you struggle to imagine. advanced physics topic runs mainly on your ability to imagine.

Additionally, as Sinnoh mentioned, IF you want to do maths degree, Its Crucial and recommended you study FM (particularly the FP1 and FP2). because this sorta helps reduce the impact of the jump from a-level to a degree.

FM is also useful for physics because there is a LOT( A LOT) of maths.

If you enjoy letting your imagination run wild and crazy, then theoretical physics might be for you (I really don't know much about theoretical physics so you are welcome to ignore this.)

as for personal statement, you could start it off by talking about your interest in physics, then link it to your "Isaac Physics Senior Physics Challenge" then tell then you gained an understanding of the importance of maths in physics than just demonstrating you joy towards maths, this could be through studying maths-related books, or studying something outside your a-levels; extra-curricular, then go on to showing skills, work experience, etc.

as for point number 2, for MOST people this is true, don't worry about it, just find other reasons, and make them strong

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#8

maths actually isn't really competitive especially for Cambridge(no, that's not really what I mean), reason step, the requirement to do well in the step is really high, unless u have a good aptitude for maths it's difficult to impossible, I will say this doing FM differentiates you from most applicants. second, think about the ratio of students doing physics to doing Further Maths, I believe this will give you a good indication of the competition for the subject. (I have 10friends who study FM,1 is doing econ, 2 are doing maths, 3 doing physics, 2 doing tech, 1 doing law, and can't exactly remember what the other one's doing but definitely wasn't maths or physics. so for me, I have its impression that physics is slightly more competitive. I do have my speculation about this as physics makes it more to the news and there more fun reaching the unknown like quantum, space, and origins you really don't have that sorta thing in maths. let me give you an example have you heard of fractal dimension, its basically the idea of having a sub-dimension between 2d and 3d i.e. 2.5d )

BUT zooming out and comparing both the subjects, really, there's not much difference, in maths by final year you will end up studying differential equations. and In physics, I believe that this is the same(@mnot please check my facts (roughly)). So in essence, it really doesn't matter to apply physics if you think the competition is less because, in the end, you are studying the same thing in a slightly different approach.

BUT zooming out and comparing both the subjects, really, there's not much difference, in maths by final year you will end up studying differential equations. and In physics, I believe that this is the same(@mnot please check my facts (roughly)). So in essence, it really doesn't matter to apply physics if you think the competition is less because, in the end, you are studying the same thing in a slightly different approach.

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#9

(Original post by

The flexibility in maths is one of the reasons I’m interested in doing it and don’t worry I’m doing further maths. It’s probably true that if maths wasn’t so flexible and it contained no physics I would absolutely go for physics. I feel like how competitive it is is the main put off especially as my maths application will be nothing special. I know that if I don’t end up at COWI for maths I’ll be kicking myself that I didn’t apply for physics.

**OlivEuler**)The flexibility in maths is one of the reasons I’m interested in doing it and don’t worry I’m doing further maths. It’s probably true that if maths wasn’t so flexible and it contained no physics I would absolutely go for physics. I feel like how competitive it is is the main put off especially as my maths application will be nothing special. I know that if I don’t end up at COWI for maths I’ll be kicking myself that I didn’t apply for physics.

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#11

(Original post by

Additionally, as Sinnoh mentioned, IF you want to do maths degree, Its Crucial and recommended you study FM (particularly the FP1 and FP2). because this sorta helps reduce the impact of the jump from a-level to a degree.

**14yalamanchilig**)Additionally, as Sinnoh mentioned, IF you want to do maths degree, Its Crucial and recommended you study FM (particularly the FP1 and FP2). because this sorta helps reduce the impact of the jump from a-level to a degree.

Last edited by Sinnoh; 1 month ago

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#12

(Original post by

? that's not what I said. I agree, but I was talking about what a physics degree is like and how it's different to physics A-level.

**Sinnoh**)? that's not what I said. I agree, but I was talking about what a physics degree is like and how it's different to physics A-level.

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If your personal statement is not special make it special, learn something unique and interesting, and use that as a way to present your interest in the subject." I know that if I don’t end up at COWI for maths I’ll be kicking myself that I didn’t apply for physics." you will be kicking yourself if you don't get into physics. Also just cause you were applying for maths doesn't mean you can't make use of your physics achievement, you could say you learnt the importance of mathematics from it. All personal statement is, is really just presenting your achievements by linking it(the better you can link it the better you have a chance) to your subject. Assuming you are in y12, why don't you participate in SMC from UKMT, get through the Kangaroo or the olympiads, that will be a really great achievement, cause only a small number of applicants to get this. Its a really big achievement.

**14yalamanchilig**)If your personal statement is not special make it special, learn something unique and interesting, and use that as a way to present your interest in the subject." I know that if I don’t end up at COWI for maths I’ll be kicking myself that I didn’t apply for physics." you will be kicking yourself if you don't get into physics. Also just cause you were applying for maths doesn't mean you can't make use of your physics achievement, you could say you learnt the importance of mathematics from it. All personal statement is, is really just presenting your achievements by linking it(the better you can link it the better you have a chance) to your subject. Assuming you are in y12, why don't you participate in SMC from UKMT, get through the Kangaroo or the olympiads, that will be a really great achievement, cause only a small number of applicants to get this. Its a really big achievement.

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**Sinnoh**)

? that's not what I said. I agree, but I was talking about what a physics degree is like and how it's different to physics A-level.

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#15

(Original post by

Your at Imperial right? How’s the physics course nowadays because the student satisfaction is appalling from what I’ve seen.

**OlivEuler**)Your at Imperial right? How’s the physics course nowadays because the student satisfaction is appalling from what I’ve seen.

Also instead of having a couple tutorials a week with about 20 other students it's now 1 seminar a week with a quarter of the year and 1 academic tutorial every two weeks in groups of < 5. Academic tutorials are good, but everyone wishes we could have them more often.

Also feedback on work still has a tendency to be slow (exam marks didn't take that long tbf) but idk how it compares to other universities.

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