Allmeliton
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#1
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I'm considering applying to do NatSci in Cambridge next year, but I don't know how theory based the physics modules get as that's where I'm more interested. If anyone has any ideas on how it works, please tell me.

Also, how does the physics here compare to a straight physics degree in universities like Oxford or ICL?
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thepsychrevision
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Hello! If you'd like to speak directly with any of our Cambridge undergraduates who do natsci in first, second and third year, feel free to check out our instagram @thepsychrevision and DM us - we specialise in psychology but have tutors who study natural sciences at Cambridge!
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Theloniouss
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R T might be able to help you. I don't know of any Cambridge physics graduates on here, unfortunately.
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NovaeSci
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Well if you take into consideration that Cambridge's Part III maths is probably the best in the country and features a ton of theoretical physics modules, you will pretty much have endless options in what you want to study or specialise in.

https://www.maths.cam.ac.uk/postgrad...-guide-courses

Oxford also has a great department that provides plenty of options in theoretical topics as well.

https://mmathphys.physics.ox.ac.uk/s...02020-2021.pdf

For mathematical and theoretical physics, I'd probably give the edge to Cambridge, but Oxford you would still get just as good a degree. Take a look at the modules and use that as your guide with what peaks your interest more.

The link for Oxford is the Masters year, by the way, but I thought it would be useful as it shows all the modules as well as features a handy guide of what modules to study depending on what area you want to specialise in.
Last edited by NovaeSci; 4 months ago
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Sinnoh
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Cambridge annoyingly vague on the website about what the course content actually is, although the actual course specification is a little more illuminating: https://www.natsci.tripos.cam.ac.uk/...tion/overallps

It would seem that things like relativistic EM, basic GR and Langrangian/Hamiltonian mechanics are part of the core spec at Cambridge (if I've correctly interpreted it), which isn't the case at Imperial, though this would all still show up in optional modules - and if you took theoretical physics at Imperial, advanced classical physics is a required module. And if those are core modules at Cam, it's probably setting you up for more advanced optional topics.

But I don't think there's much difference in content, mainly it's in how they deliver it.

K-Man_PhysCheM is at Cambridge doing physics (I believe) and I think they'd have just finished third year. They would know more than I do.
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R T
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#6
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(Original post by Allmeliton)
I'm considering applying to do NatSci in Cambridge next year, but I don't know how theory based the physics modules get as that's where I'm more interested. If anyone has any ideas on how it works, please tell me.

Also, how does the physics here compare to a straight physics degree in universities like Oxford or ICL?
Short answer: you cover everything under natsci that a full physics course at another university would offer.

In this regard ICL or Oxford are not better. What will happen with natsci is that you'll have to do a few more modules at least in first year which are not just physics (for example, you'll be doing chemistry, materials science, earth science, a bio module, etc). This is just straight up more work, which appeals to some people who enjoy a lot of areas of integrated science, but it also annoys other people who don't really care about a subject like chemistry as much.


Long answer: if you really want to be a theoretical physicist, then you should not apply for physics or natsci, you should apply for Mathematics. Physics and NatSci are equivalent/ perhaps slightly better for people looking to enter "practical" or more research based Physics - but from a purely cutting edge theoretical standpoint, you are better off doing a pure Maths course and then extending this into a Masters in Maths which incorporates aspects of theoretical physics, and then doing a PhD in that field.

The rigorous grounding in Mathematical methods, theory and problem solving are better in an undergraduate maths course than an undergraduate physics course. That said, you won't be necessarily shooting yourself in the foot if you do decide to apply for undergrad physics instead of maths - you just might slightly regret it later on when you realise how helpful a pure maths course might have been.
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