Allmeliton
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I'm currently in year 12 (currently take Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Computing) and am planning to apply for doing physics next year. I enjoy the subject but have been eyeing the theoretical side of things more than the experimental (especially on topics like quantum physics).

Does a basic physics degree give me enough mathematical knowledge to pursue that field of physics or is it too experimentally focused, meaning I would need to go for "Physics with Theoretical Physics" or "Maths with Physics" courses?
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HoldThisL
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look at the module lists for the courses youre interested in because some will be more mathematical than others and youll see that from the names of the classes available to you

on your own assessment, you'll probably prefer mathphys/theoretical courses, but as i say do some research to be sure
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Sinnoh
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It'll be mainly on mathematical methods, like fourier analysis, vector calculus, linear algebra and various ways of solving differential equations. If you go down the theoretical route then there might also be group theory, tensors, calculus of variations, more abstract stuff.

Really if you want to go into theoretical topics... choose theoretical topics in your degree. Obviously you're not likely to be reformulating M-theory if you specialise in fluid dynamics and atmospheric physics. Often even if you're on a straight physics course you can still pick as many theoretical topics as you like. The main difference is how much lab work you do.

If you don't want to do labs at all, don't do physics.
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Allmeliton
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(Original post by HoldThisL)
look at the module lists for the courses youre interested in because some will be more mathematical than others and youll see that from the names of the classes available to you

on your own assessment, you'll probably prefer mathphys/theoretical courses, but as i say do some research to be sure
I've been looking at a few university courses and for the normal physics degrees. it just says "mathematical topics" and nothing more, so I was a bit confused
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Allmeliton
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(Original post by Sinnoh)
It'll be mainly on mathematical methods, like fourier analysis, vector calculus, linear algebra and various ways of solving differential equations. If you go down the theoretical route then there might also be group theory, tensors, calculus of variations, more abstract stuff.

Really if you want to go into theoretical topics... choose theoretical topics in your degree. Obviously you're not likely to be reformulating M-theory if you specialise in fluid dynamics and atmospheric physics. Often even if you're on a straight physics course you can still pick as many theoretical topics as you like. The main difference is how much lab work you do.

If you don't want to do labs at all, don't do physics.
I see, I'm still researching these topics so I'm a bit confused but that helps clear things up. I do enjoy the lab work, don't get me wrong. But the maths side and problem solving aspects of theoretical physics looks a bit more appealing
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_gcx
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I would avoid universities that do not have clear module handbooks, fwiw. You don't want any unwelcome surprises. (eg. finding out that the module choice is actually quite poor or not to your liking)

At my university, (Warwick) the maths & physics degree has a lesser practical component (though I think there is one in later years) and allows you to do some maths that is tangential or unrelated to physics straight from the maths department. (though the core maths modules will be the ones that relate more directly to mathematical physics - for example PDEs, variational principles, analysis) Whereas on the straight physics degree you would only really be taking modules from the physics department, and any maths you cover would mainly be taught contextually, with specific applications to physics in mind. It does not have any options that aren't available on the usual maths or physics degrees.

I'm not sure if the configuration of other mathphys degrees is similar. If you don't really like mathematics for mathematics sake, and mainly prefer it applied to physics, a mathphys degree may not be for you. (the maths modules you take would most likely [definitely if you're taking the same modules as the maths students] be taught in a very "university-maths" style with emphasis on rigour and proof)
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Allmeliton
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(Original post by _gcx)
I would avoid universities that do not have clear module handbooks, fwiw. You don't want any unwelcome surprises. (eg. finding out that the module choice is actually quite poor or not to your liking)

At my university, (Warwick) the maths & physics degree has a lesser practical component (though I think there is one in later years) and allows you to do some maths that is tangential or unrelated to physics straight from the maths department. (though the core maths modules will be the ones that relate more directly to mathematical physics - for example PDEs, variational principles, analysis) Whereas on the straight physics degree you would only really be taking modules from the physics department, and any maths you cover would mainly be taught contextually, with specific applications to physics in mind. It does not have any options that aren't available on the usual maths or physics degrees.

I'm not sure if the configuration of other mathphys degrees is similar. If you don't really like mathematics for mathematics sake, and mainly prefer it applied to physics, a mathphys degree may not be for you. (the maths modules you take would most likely [definitely if you're taking the same modules as the maths students] be taught in a very "university-maths" style with emphasis on rigour and proof)
Yeah, some universities are not that clear on what is different (the main offender being Cambridge for the Maths modules in NatSci). I think the best one I've seen is Imperial, where the only difference is that the extra optional modules related to maths become compulsory for Physics with Theoretical Physics and you just choose 1 or 2 less optional modules because of this (other than year 3)
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artful_lounger
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(Original post by Allmeliton)
Yeah, some universities are not that clear on what is different (the main offender being Cambridge for the Maths modules in NatSci). I think the best one I've seen is Imperial, where the only difference is that the extra optional modules related to maths become compulsory for Physics with Theoretical Physics and you just choose 1 or 2 less optional modules because of this (other than year 3)
See: https://www.maths.cam.ac.uk/undergra...Tschedules.pdf

Seems pretty transparent what topics are included in each paper and which papers are available that are purely maths/mathematical methods.

For the first year "maths with physics" course you would substitute the Part IA material there with the information from the relevant papers from the maths tripos, which is extremely well documented elsewhere on the maths department website.
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Allmeliton
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
See: https://www.maths.cam.ac.uk/undergra...Tschedules.pdf

Seems pretty transparent what topics are included in each paper and which papers are available that are purely maths/mathematical methods.

For the first year "maths with physics" course you would substitute the Part IA material there with the information from the relevant papers from the maths tripos, which is extremely well documented elsewhere on the maths department website.
Thanks for this. Where can I find similar documents if you don't mind me asking

But yes, I was able to find the topics covered in the Maths with Physics course, but not the Maths part of NatSci
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artful_lounger
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(Original post by Allmeliton)
Thanks for this. Where can I find similar documents if you don't mind me asking

But yes, I was able to find the topics covered in the Maths with Physics course, but not the Maths part of NatSci
Usually the department websites have information for the courses in each part of the tripos, although some have more or less information (I think the physics department just links back to the NatSci course outlines). There is also the natsci course page itself: https://www.natsci.tripos.cam.ac.uk

Note several of the astrophysics papers are borrowed from the maths tripos, so details for those can be found in the maths tripos schedules for part II/III. Bear in mind astrophysics is a separate specialisation separate to physics in the natsci course. I think some of the astrophysics papers (not the ones shared with maths) are shared with the part II/III physics course?
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Sinnoh
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(Original post by Allmeliton)
Thanks for this. Where can I find similar documents if you don't mind me asking

But yes, I was able to find the topics covered in the Maths with Physics course, but not the Maths part of NatSci
You can find past papers for the maths part of NatSci, that should give you a rough idea. In first year it's mostly A-level further maths but a bit extra.
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