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Courses Cambridge courses

  1. Feb 23, 2008 #1
    I wonder if anyone here has experiences with the mathematical tripos/natural sciences tripos at Cambridge. I'm currently holding an offer for Maths there (conditional on STEP) and opting to do maths with physics, and if I get in I MAY transfer to do physics in the natural sciences tripos in the second year.

    I've heard that maths with physics will be a huge workload for first year so I don't know if any of you guys can provide advice on this. Also, since the mathematical tripos has a large number of theoretical physics choices beyond first year, is it worth transferring to the NST if I'm primarily interested in theoretical physics, or is it better to stay in maths?

    I also gathered that the mathematical tripos is a very rigourous programme (which is what I'm interested in). To what extent is this true or an overstatement? Can someone possibly give a sort of "review" for the course?

    Last edited: Feb 23, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 26, 2008 #2
    I applied for maths with physics, and switched to straight maths a couple of weeks into my first term. The reason for this was that I really wasn't interested in doing any practicals. I didn't really get much of a chance to gauge the workload, but if your college makes you do all four of the maths courses and the physics one (which most do) then this might get quite heavy. I still do physics example papers (without the stress of a deadline), but I find that the maths example papers alone provide plenty of stress anyway. If the workload of maths and physics worries you, it might be worthwhile noting that natural sciences in itself probably has a more intense workload (they certainly have more supervisions than us, but the example sheets don't seem as hard).

    In the first year there is a dynamics course (in lent term) which is theoretically not compulsory for maths with physics students (but again your college will probably make you do it aswell) gave me an ample physics fix for first year along with going to the physics lectures anyway (and skimming through the physics example sheets).

    I can't really say anything about the rigour of the tripos in general. In the pure courses (particularly analysis, where rigour is inherent) there's a lot of rigour; in the applied courses (which will probably depend on the lecturer, but for this year differential equations was very hand-wavy) it's the opposite.

    Personally I would recommend that you do maths with physics if you're interested in theorteical physics, but I might be biased. The question you probably want to ask yourself is would you rather be doing lots of maths, or stuff like chemistry, cells, etc.? In my opinion the maths route is a lot better, mainly because I think that a year of maths is going to be a lot more useful in theoretical physics than a year of cells, but that's just my view and you need to think about that for yourself.
  4. Feb 29, 2008 #3


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    btw, something that i don't understand in cambridge UG, why can't you do there a combined bachelor degree in maths and physics, i mean if you apply for maths and physics then after the first year you need to choose between the two, while at other univs outside cambridge you can do such a degree, your'e not restricted that way.

    maths and physics is quite an overload here at my univ, so i guess at cambridge it would be tougher (much more).
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