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Courses Help an Undergrad Physics student decide on Electives

  1. Jun 21, 2016 #1
    Hey all,

    I'm an Applied Physics Undergrad who just finished first year and I ended up with a 2:1, which is grand.

    Anyway, in second year we have to pick between two electives, Physical Chemistry 3 or Sensors & Actuators. Then again in third year you have either Physical Chemistry 4 or Instrumentation & Control. (Obviously, if you pick the Chen elective you have to continue on with the Chem stream and vice versa)

    Basically, what would be the best to pick? I honestly have no idea what I want to do after my degree. I thought I did but college level physics is different to what I thought it was (in a good way) so I'm sort of back at having no clue as to what I want. I have a feeling those on this forum may work in both industry and others have a more academic life. What would set me up better for a career after college?

    Talking to those in other years they said choose the Chem module if you think you want an academic career and then the second module if you want a "straight to industry" career. Again, not sure what I want to do.

    Any advice anyone can give would be brilliant.

    I was going to base my decision off what I got at the end of first year but I ended up getting the same grade in my Physical Chemistry 1 exam and my Analog Electronics 2 exam (which is a prerequisite for Sensors & Actuators). I preferred the Chemistry labs even though I found them difficult at times. Mostly because I didn't study Chemistry at High School and my first experience of Chemistry was in college. The AE 2 labs to me, were boring and I did find the circuitry at times. However, talking to those in the higher years the labs do become more interesting.

    Physics Undergrad unsure of what to do with degree, should I choose Chem or Electronics elective.
    What's more employable and sets me up for a more "general" Physics education.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 22, 2016 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Personally I would choose the Sensors route as its could be used in both places. If you want to move to industry you're covered if you want to stay in academia you're covered. Consider how many physics experiments utilize sensors, instrumentation ...

    Robotics and the Internet of Things is heating up too and this technology utilizes sensors in a big way.

    Why even chemistry uses the sensor and instrumentation technology so to me its a broader path with more options.

    I would also suggest some programming that interacts with sensor technology and maybe mechatronics as well.
  4. Jun 22, 2016 #3
    Thanks for the reply.

    You pretty much summed up the reasons as to why I would pick the Sensors route.

    As regards to programming, I have the basics of Java and I am fairly proficient with MatLab
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