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math or physics degree?

hi I'm currently in year 12 studying geography, math and further math, however I really have a passion for physics I just wish I found it sooner before picking my a levels. if I do physics at university ill have to do a a foundation year which I honesty don't mind but I just don't know whether I want to do math or physics, cause if I do physics I also get the math's I like in it like mechanics and calculus and none of statistics which I hate. so what should I do ?
Original post by iloveranpo
hi I'm currently in year 12 studying geography, math and further math, however I really have a passion for physics I just wish I found it sooner before picking my a levels. if I do physics at university ill have to do a a foundation year which I honesty don't mind but I just don't know whether I want to do math or physics, cause if I do physics I also get the math's I like in it like mechanics and calculus and none of statistics which I hate. so what should I do ?


It's not too late to drop geography for physics, and I strongly recommend doing the A Level whilst you are still in college because it can cost at least £1250 in exam and admin fees for a science A Level with practical assessment outside of college.

With physics degrees in general, they usually prefer A Levels and IBs over anything else. It's very rare that you would find a uni that would accept any other qualification, so in your case it's more or less A Levels or foundation years.

Foundation years generally restrict you to the universities that you can apply for to my knowledge i.e. once completing a foundation year at one uni it's not likely that you can be immediately transferred to another uni, because they would require to check you have covered the required material in the foundation year. It's much easier with A Levels.
Having said that, if you did a foundation year at a specific uni, it's not that difficult to switch from one subject (say physics) to another (say engineering) within the same uni or department.

To my knowledge, you would still need to cover statistics even for a physics degree - experimental physicists would need to run stat tests to analyse data for their experiments, so you're not out of the woods yet.
On the other hand, if you want to do a degree in mathematical physics (which is essentially a maths degree in a physics context, or mostly mechanics), you should be able to get away without doing anything related to stats. You would need to check on this.
Should you wish to do a degree that cover both subjects, consider Natural Sciences and pick Maths and Physics specialisms or pick a joint degree in maths and physics. In these cases, you should still need to cover stats for the physics modules.
A number of maths degrees will require you to cover stats, even if they do say it's a degree in Pure Maths.

To my knowledge, there are only a handful of universities in the country that offers a physics degree where you can borderline get away without having A Level Physics:
https://www.lboro.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/courses/physics-bsc/#variant
https://www.port.ac.uk/study/courses/undergraduate/bsc-mphys-physics#entry_requirements
https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate/2022/22/physics-bsc
At the moment, the websites are filled with information on clearing, so I can't tell what some of the universities' entry requirements are

I am not sure whether Hull require any specific subjects:
https://www.hull.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/physics-bsc-mphys?d=2022&var=standard#entry

As a fun note, you can technically go into geophysics/geology with geography + maths, but it's not the same as a general physics degree. I am not entirely sure whether you can then get into a master's in physics should you decide to pursue it in research with an undergrad in geophysics (generally it's engineering, physics, or maths degrees that are accepted).
If you do want to go into physics research, it's generally recommended that you do a MPhy over a BSc + MSc. Whilst the MSc allows you to study at another university, the tuitiion of the MSc can be significantly more than £9250. I would try to do the MPhy at a top end university where possible.

All in all, I would strongly recommend doing A Level Physics whilst you're still at college, even if it means sitting for another year (unless you want to squeeze an entire A Level in 1 year in your second year of college as a private candidate, which I strongly not recommend you do). If this means dropping geography, then by all means. This would widen the options available to you and allow more flexibility to pick the degree you want to do.
(edited 7 months ago)
Original post by iloveranpo
hi I'm currently in year 12 studying geography, math and further math, however I really have a passion for physics I just wish I found it sooner before picking my a levels. if I do physics at university ill have to do a a foundation year which I honesty don't mind but I just don't know whether I want to do math or physics, cause if I do physics I also get the math's I like in it like mechanics and calculus and none of statistics which I hate. so what should I do ?

Something to note is that maths at degree level is vastly different to A-level Maths, so do look into what it entails specifically. If what you enjoy most about A-level is the calculus problem solving then you muhny find a physics or engineering degree more closely aligned to your preferences. Obviously you do need to also have an interest in, enjoyment of, and aptitude for physics in that case. If you don't like physics then it's a moot point!
(edited 7 months ago)
Reply 3
Hi - what are your targeted grades? I think foundation years might be a viable route. You do need to be aware that they tend not to be very transferable so you need to make sure that you apply somewhere you are happy to be for a few years.
Reply 4
Original post by MindMax2000
It's not too late to drop geography for physics, and I strongly recommend doing the A Level whilst you are still in college because it can cost at least £1250 in exam and admin fees for a science A Level with practical assessment outside of college.

With physics degrees in general, they usually prefer A Levels and IBs over anything else. It's very rare that you would find a uni that would accept any other qualification, so in your case it's more or less A Levels or foundation years.

Foundation years generally restrict you to the universities that you can apply for to my knowledge i.e. once completing a foundation year at one uni it's not likely that you can be immediately transferred to another uni, because they would require to check you have covered the required material in the foundation year. It's much easier with A Levels.
Having said that, if you did a foundation year at a specific uni, it's not that difficult to switch from one subject (say physics) to another (say engineering) within the same uni or department.

To my knowledge, you would still need to cover statistics even for a physics degree - experimental physicists would need to run stat tests to analyse data for their experiments, so you're not out of the woods yet.
On the other hand, if you want to do a degree in mathematical physics (which is essentially a maths degree in a physics context, or mostly mechanics), you should be able to get away without doing anything related to stats. You would need to check on this.
Should you wish to do a degree that cover both subjects, consider Natural Sciences and pick Maths and Physics specialisms or pick a joint degree in maths and physics. In these cases, you should still need to cover stats for the physics modules.
A number of maths degrees will require you to cover stats, even if they do say it's a degree in Pure Maths.

To my knowledge, there are only a handful of universities in the country that offers a physics degree where you can borderline get away without having A Level Physics:
https://www.lboro.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/courses/physics-bsc/#variant
https://www.port.ac.uk/study/courses/undergraduate/bsc-mphys-physics#entry_requirements
https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate/2022/22/physics-bsc
At the moment, the websites are filled with information on clearing, so I can't tell what some of the universities' entry requirements are

I am not sure whether Hull require any specific subjects:
https://www.hull.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/physics-bsc-mphys?d=2022&var=standard#entry

As a fun note, you can technically go into geophysics/geology with geography + maths, but it's not the same as a general physics degree. I am not entirely sure whether you can then get into a master's in physics should you decide to pursue it in research with an undergrad in geophysics (generally it's engineering, physics, or maths degrees that are accepted).
If you do want to go into physics research, it's generally recommended that you do a MPhy over a BSc + MSc. Whilst the MSc allows you to study at another university, the tuitiion of the MSc can be significantly more than £9250. I would try to do the MPhy at a top end university where possible.

All in all, I would strongly recommend doing A Level Physics whilst you're still at college, even if it means sitting for another year (unless you want to squeeze an entire A Level in 1 year in your second year of college as a private candidate, which I strongly not recommend you do). If this means dropping geography, then by all means. This would widen the options available to you and allow more flexibility to pick the degree you want to do.


firstly thankyou so much for your time and effort into producing this incredible response i apricate it a lot. secondly about doing A- level physics in one year i spoke to my head of year regarding this matter and she said its best that you just carry on and do it at uni as a foundation year, because to be honest ill be able to learn the content from experts and have a better chance of deepening my foundation knowledge. further more there are a handful of unis that do this such as Manchester, Nottingham ucl and Queens. i attended the Manchester open day and went to the foundation in physics lecture and it seemed very interesting and is mainly a lot of math modules. in addition they have a math and physics degree which i can enter by completing my foundation year in physics.

after considering my options as well as my grades i think ill stick with the foundation, because if i ever want to study a math's degree i always can in the future, i honestly don't mind learning my whole life i guess its just the costs that makes it difficult to happen. again thankyou so much for your response.
Reply 5
Original post by artful_lounger
Something to note is that maths at degree level is vastly different to A-level Maths, so do look into what it entails specifically. If what you enjoy most about A-level is the calculus problem solving then you muhny find a physics or engineering degree more closely aligned to your preferences. Obviously you do need to also have an interest in, enjoyment of, and aptitude for physics in that case. If you don't like physics then it's a moot point!

thankyou for your response, and yes i do like physics not just the mechanics part of it.
Reply 6
Original post by ajj2000
Hi - what are your targeted grades? I think foundation years might be a viable route. You do need to be aware that they tend not to be very transferable so you need to make sure that you apply somewhere you are happy to be for a few years.


like AAB, i know but i don't mind what uni i go to i just want the knowledge in physics.
Original post by iloveranpo
thankyou for your response, and yes i do like physics not just the mechanics part of it.

Well that's a fairly big part of physics in both physics and many engineering degrees! That said, the mechanics of the sort done in A-level Maths is closer to the mechanics (and other physics) work done in degree level physics and engineering.
(edited 7 months ago)

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