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Futher maths reading for a physics graduate

  1. Mar 21, 2008 #1
    Im a physics graduate, well nearly, graduating in 4 weeks time, and I get the feeling I dont know as much maths as I should. The most taxing things Ive ever been taught within the course are operators, like the Hamiltonian, or div and curl of vector functions. I dont really know where to go for further mathematical methods.

    Also, if I graduate with a 2:2, how likely is it to get a phd position in britian? and how could I improve my chances? I honestly have no idea what my grade will be, and Im too scared to work it out, but I doubt its a 2:1.

  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 21, 2008 #2
    Perhaps check out books such as "Mathematical Physics" by Hassani or "Mathematical Methods for Physicists" by Arfken. It really completely depends on what type of grad studies you plan to be going into. It wouldn't make sense to suggest differential forms and tensor analysis if you're not going to be studying GR or field theory, or analytical mechanics..
  4. Mar 21, 2008 #3
    So what you are saying is my rather limited maths knowledge is the norm for a graduate? Because, even though I only did maths to as level, most of it is only A-level stuff at best. My statistical analysis course uses matrices for example, and my tutor gave a "bluffers" guide to them in excel. Which seems a little lame. Considering you can use matrix solutions to the Schroedinger Equation. As well as a hell of alot of figure of merit stuff in statistical analysis. Chi^2 for example has a matrix method.
  5. Mar 21, 2008 #4
    That's not what I said at all. I gave two references for you to take a look at to see what type of mathematical methods are available to the physicist. I also said that any further math that you may wish to take will probably depend on what type of grad studies you're thinking of doing.

    Also, systems of marks vary from country to country. In particular 2:2 or 2:1 means nothing to me. Canada works mostly on the 4 point scale or 9 point scale sometimes which is easily converted to letter grades (A, B, C, D, F)
  6. Mar 21, 2008 #5
    Lovely attitude. I only asked a question.
  7. Mar 21, 2008 #6
    And ignored the answer.
  8. Mar 21, 2008 #7
    Because you didnt give a explanatory answer, just two books, which I could have got off any online reading list, and a whinge about how our classification system doesnt apply to you. The point of asking, on a physics community board, is to get actual experienced answers. Not something shot off the top of your head.

    No wonder there are few "online" communities with physicists in them. Most of us it seems are social misfits.
  9. Mar 21, 2008 #8
    You said: "I dont really know where to go for further mathematical methods."

    I gave you two resources.

    You said: "Also, if I graduate with a 2:2, how likely is it to get a phd position in britian? and how could I improve my chances? I honestly have no idea what my grade will be, and Im too scared to work it out, but I doubt its a 2:1."

    I told you that doesn't tell us much because we don't understand your system.

    .. I'm sometimes a bit jaded on these boards because people don't do some of the research themselves. Yes, the point is you can look up this information yourself. If you are a physics graduate you're in a good position to understand just how much math you may require, and of what form it may take. This isn't something off the top of my head.. this is my experience as a physics graduate. What else do you want? My detailed course outline? My transcripts?

    The point is this: Many people here are here to guide people in the right direction.. not do their work for them.

    There are few online communities with physicists just as there are few online communities with engineers, mathematicians, and other science type fields. I guess they're misfits too?
  10. Mar 21, 2008 #9
    Coto's answer is a good one. Match your knowledge to that of a mathematical method's book, which should be a guide of what you'll need as a physicist. Any more in depth math will be relevant to your specialty
  11. Mar 21, 2008 #10

    Only the last sentence of that was his answer. And the first half is your answer and genuinely good advice. So recommend me a book based on what Ive told you. Amazon dont tend to do searches like that. Or the Library OPAC strangely enough. Which is why, to my clear mistake, I asked a pertinent question. Which came in two parts incidentally.
  12. Mar 21, 2008 #11
    Arfken's text:

    Hassani's text:

    Both from amazon, both allow you to "search inside" the book. It'll only allow you to go through the contents, index, and a few pages of each. Having gone through a physics degree you should understand what the majority of these topics entail... any further information can be easily found on the web, particularly wikipedia.

    You still haven't given any further information about what your marks mean... or about what you wish to do for grad studies.
  13. Mar 21, 2008 #12
  14. Mar 22, 2008 #13
  15. Mar 22, 2008 #14
    For the curious I looked up what 2:1 and 2:2 mean and found an answer in this page.
  16. Mar 22, 2008 #15
    I assumed that the whole world knew what university degrees were ranked in, at least in British universities.
  17. Mar 22, 2008 #16


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    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Unfortunately, that's not the case.

    Anyway, you asked whether it would be possible for you to get onto a PhD programme if you graduate with a 2:2. If you want funding from a research council, then no: a 2:1 is required. Also, whilst there may be some universities who will accept lower, a 2:1 is normally the minimum requirement for graduate study. That said, it will probably depend upon your specific field, and from where your degree is, and whether it is a BSc or an MSci or equivalent.

    Have you already applied for PhD programmes? The deadlines for applying for most are January/February.
  18. Mar 22, 2008 #17
    It looks like the percentages are more "realistic" for challenging coursework than the 60/70/80/90 scale. I take it that, assuming grade inflation isn't a problem, it translates something like this:

    1st class = A level = 3.6+/4.0
    2:1 = B level = 3.2+/4.0
    2:2 = C level = 2.8+/4.0
    3rd class = D level = 2.4+/4.0

    Does this seem correct(ish)?
  19. Mar 23, 2008 #18


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    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Translating GPA into UK grades, and vice versa is a subjective process, since it depends on the university both applying to and the one you've come from. However, I'd say it went more like this:

    1st = 4.0

    I say this because I've seen some university websites stating their minimum requirements for postrgrad study is a 3.5GPA (where I know for UK admissions it's a 2:1). Also, note that 1st class degrees are handed out to only the top 4-10% of the year (depending on your university) and so converting them into a range the same size as that of the 2:1 doesn't make sense (hence they convert to 4.0).

    Again, this should all be taken with a pinch of salt, since there isn't a standard way to convert grades between the two different education systems.
  20. Mar 24, 2008 #19
    Well in that case, is there anything I could do to increase my chances non academically? Or could I get accepted for a masters then do a PHD?
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