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Career in Theoretical/Experimental Physics through Chemistry

  1. Jan 3, 2016 #1
    Hi everybody,

    Have followed this forum for a year or so and decided it's about time to sign up. I have a couple of questions regarding my career. I'm currently a 2nd year Chemist, with interests in quantum/theoretical chemistry. My plans at the moment are leaning towards applying for a PhD program in theoretical chemistry at Oxford.
    Basically what I want to ask is, how can I approach a career in Physics? Does it depend on post-graduate applications etc?
    My biggest issue at the moment is that throughout my education, I only entered into school around GCSE time, and didn't take maths at A-level. I still managed to achieve AAAA at A-level though.
    Despite teaching myself as much maths as I can whilst concentrating on my degree, I still struggle to understand the mathematics within Griffiths Intro to QM.
    I feel like if I could master the maths, I could excel within physics, and with interests in philosophy I would love to merge my passion for science with philosophy (theoretical). Do you believe this is possible? With regards to PhD programs etc...


  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 3, 2016 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    If you want to be a physicist, doesn't it make sense to change your major to physics?
  4. Jan 3, 2016 #3
    Well, firstly it's so easy here in the U.K.
    Secondly, I do enjoy chemistry, it's a great subject. I suppose what I'm asking is whether I can enter into post-graduate research in areas of Physics, and if so, which areas would you say are accessible?
  5. Jan 3, 2016 #4
    Years ago I spent some time in materials science. Lots of both physicists and chemists there. Just a thought.
  6. Jan 4, 2016 #5
    I know chemists bachelors students who went on to do chemical physics in grad school. Look into OSU, UColorado Boulder, or UMaryland Chemical Physics programs as examples; as far as I know they deal with materials, atomic, molecular physics and other topics that have overlap between the two subjects.
  7. Jan 4, 2016 #6
    I'm based in the U.K and plan on doing my post-graduate studies here if possible! As much as I'd love to venture forth into America!
  8. Jan 6, 2016 #7


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    As far as I know there is no formal reason why you couldn't do a PhD in physics in the UK. From a practical point of view it will of course depend on what you would like to do, you will have to convince the DTC (of you go that route) or supervisor that you would be better suited for that particular area/project than someone with a PhD in physics. There are certainly cases where this might be the case. I know someone who went that route (albeit in Sweden). She developed a new process for fabricating high-Tc superconductor circuits. i.e. it was mainly cleanroom work and her background in chemistry was actually an advantage (she is now a lecturer in physics).
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