# Maths and Physics degree

Thread starter 1 year ago
#1
Does anyone take a joint Maths and Physics degree- what is it like and what is the split between the subject? I don't take further maths so is this a problem? What career are you going into?
Even if you just take Physics I would love to know what this is like too!
I am thinking about doing this at University and want to get to know if it is right for me! Thank you in advance
0
1 year ago
#2
Hey, I did Theoretical Physics which is a mixture of maths and physics. For me in first year I did about 1/3 maths and 2/3 physics. Then in second year it was more like 1/4 maths and the rest physics. If you're interested in the applied maths side of things there's actually loads of overlap between the two courses at degree level. It's definitely worth looking into the modules that are on the different courses to try and spot the differences and figure out which course is right for you. Generally I think with maths degrees you get more freedom to choose modules and shape the degree, but with physics there are a lot of set modules that you have to do.

Both:
Mechanics
Waves
Programming (probably more so in a physics degree)
Quantum Mechanics (compulsory in physics, but there are usually options to take it with maths)
Special Relativity (compulsory in physics, but there are usually options to take it with maths)
Electromagnetism (compulsory in physics, but there are usually options to take it with maths)

Maths:
Linear Algebra
Calculus
(both of the above are likely to be in a physics degree too but not in as much depth)
Analysis
Statistics
Probability
(If you're doing maths and physics it would usually be the statistics and probability side that gets replaced with physics)
Fluid Mechanics
Differential Geometry
Mathematical Biology
Mathematical Finance
Topology

Physics:
Experimental physics
Thermodynamics
Condensed Matter Physics
Optics
Astrophysics
Particle Physics

The fact that you don't take further maths will potentially make a few of the top universities, such as oxbridge and imperial, harder to get into (especially if you apply for maths or maths and physics). What tends to happen is the 1st year maths tends to go over everything relevant in further maths, so those that have done further maths find 1st year quite easy but those that haven't generally have to work harder in 1st year. After 1st year everyone is at the same level though.

Personally having done this I'm hoping to go into computational biology, but I have friends who have gone into software engineering and research in other areas of physics.

Let me know if you have any other questions
1
1 year ago
#3
(Original post by ella_azzopardi)
Does anyone take a joint Maths and Physics degree- what is it like and what is the split between the subject? I don't take further maths so is this a problem? What career are you going into?
Even if you just take Physics I would love to know what this is like too!
I am thinking about doing this at University and want to get to know if it is right for me! Thank you in advance
I started a physics course in 2015, I dropped out after the first year but that was not due to the course.

To answer your questions, maths usually involves more variety in modules like mentioned above whereas physics is generally quite uniform wherever you study it.

I studied at Liverpool’s uni of. If I had to pick between straight physics and physics and maths. I’d go with physics, it’s got more content which fits together whereas maths would require new categories of information to be learnt.

You can do a lot with a physics or maths degree. Employers are generally quite happy to employ anyone with these subject degrees because of their numeric or problem solving nature.
1
Thread starter 1 year ago
#4
(Original post by physgradstudent)
Hey, I did Theoretical Physics which is a mixture of maths and physics. For me in first year I did about 1/3 maths and 2/3 physics. Then in second year it was more like 1/4 maths and the rest physics. If you're interested in the applied maths side of things there's actually loads of overlap between the two courses at degree level. It's definitely worth looking into the modules that are on the different courses to try and spot the differences and figure out which course is right for you. Generally I think with maths degrees you get more freedom to choose modules and shape the degree, but with physics there are a lot of set modules that you have to do.

Both:
Mechanics
Waves
Programming (probably more so in a physics degree)
Quantum Mechanics (compulsory in physics, but there are usually options to take it with maths)
Special Relativity (compulsory in physics, but there are usually options to take it with maths)
Electromagnetism (compulsory in physics, but there are usually options to take it with maths)

Maths:
Linear Algebra
Calculus
(both of the above are likely to be in a physics degree too but not in as much depth)
Analysis
Statistics
Probability
(If you're doing maths and physics it would usually be the statistics and probability side that gets replaced with physics)
Fluid Mechanics
Differential Geometry
Mathematical Biology
Mathematical Finance
Topology

Physics:
Experimental physics
Thermodynamics
Condensed Matter Physics
Optics
Astrophysics
Particle Physics

The fact that you don't take further maths will potentially make a few of the top universities, such as oxbridge and imperial, harder to get into (especially if you apply for maths or maths and physics). What tends to happen is the 1st year maths tends to go over everything relevant in further maths, so those that have done further maths find 1st year quite easy but those that haven't generally have to work harder in 1st year. After 1st year everyone is at the same level though.

Personally having done this I'm hoping to go into computational biology, but I have friends who have gone into software engineering and research in other areas of physics.

Let me know if you have any other questions
Thank you so much for this this is very helpful! I had looked briefly into Theoretical Physics and thought it looked interesting. If you don't mind me asking what would be the difference between Theoretical Physics and a joint maths and physics degree in terms of content. I take Maths, Physics and Product design A level. And also would Theoretical Physics be suitable for e.g. a civil engineer. Thank you so much
0
1 year ago
#5
(Original post by ella_azzopardi)
Thank you so much for this this is very helpful! I had looked briefly into Theoretical Physics and thought it looked interesting. If you don't mind me asking what would be the difference between Theoretical Physics and a joint maths and physics degree in terms of content. I take Maths, Physics and Product design A level. And also would Theoretical Physics be suitable for e.g. a civil engineer. Thank you so much
Theoretical Physics and joint Maths and Physics are usually quite similar. Again Maths and Physics degrees tend to have more choice available in them so you'll have more freedom to choose between different maths modules.

On the other hand Theoretical Physics tends to be more structured with less choice. This is because Theoretical Physics degrees are usually accredited by the Institute of Physics and they have quite a few requirements in terms of the content covered in the degree. This accreditation will make it easier to become a chartered physicist. Personally I'm not entirely sure what the advantages of being chartered are, I think it's only important if you specifically go into a physics focused job, but it's something to be aware of.

The specific differences vary from university to university and not many tend to offer both Theoretical Physics and Maths and Physics joint honours.

With regards to engineering the best route is an engineering degree and this is because they are accredited by the relevant bodies and help you to become a chartered engineer which is important for a lot of jobs. Civil engineering is probably one of the more stringent engineering fields in terms of these requirements because of the nature of what the job is and the things that are being engineered. Whereas robotic engineering or some other types of engineering have less safety risks involved so probably aren't as strict. For engineering roles you will usually need a masters. If you've done a physics or maths and physics BSc you can then do a separate MSc (1 year) if you decide to change fields, these degrees tend to open up quite a range of masters courses as you can do lots of things from maths, physics, computer science or engineering (although the specific subject requirements depend on the uni and course). For civil engineering, because of the reasons outlined above you'd usually have to do a pre-masters year in civil engineering before the masters (so overall it would take 2 years), but there are universities that offer this and it is possible.

In summary I'd say if you do Physics or Maths (or a combination) you can convert to basically any STEM subject afterwards so it definitely keeps a lot of doors open if you're undecided. Having said that if you already know that you'll eventually want to do engineering or similar then it's best to go down that route from the start.
0
1 year ago
#6
I would note that a joint honours maths and physics degree will usually differ from a theoretical physics degree (and the maths in a regular physics degree) due to the maths half of the degree not being just the mathematical methods you will do in those other two courses, but also including abstract, proof based pure maths, which is very very different from the style of maths you wil have done in Alevel maths.

If you are just considering a maths and physics degree because you like the kind of maths you do in A-level, then you will be just fine in a single honours physics degree as well, where you will do a lot of that kind of maths not only in your maths methods modules, but also being used in all your physics modules. If you don't want to learn about abstract vector spaces, real analysis, and other such topics, a joint honours maths degree is probably not suitable.

Not having further maths is not ideal, especially as you will be going into a course where 50% of your time is spent on very abstract maths, and the rest is spent doing less abstract maths. You will spend 100% of your degree doing mathematical work in a joint maths and physics degree, and very near all of your time doing mathematical work in even a single honours physics degree. You will be solving problems using calculus, differential equations, matrices etc every day in even a single honours physics degree.
1
1 year ago
#7
Maths is also important I think. Your knowledge will be useful in a lot of spheres. for example, programming
1
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