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Most difficult graduate physics core class?

  1. Apr 1, 2010 #1
    One of my teachers keeps on saying that her subject is one of the most difficult, without any proof, and she says this everyday, and it's getting old, so I thought I'd like to take an informal poll to determine the truth:

    What is the most difficult core class for physics graduate students out of the following classes:

    Methods of Mathematical Physics I
    Advanced Mechanics I (this is classical mechanics)
    Quantum Mechanics I
    Quantum Mechanics II
    Electrodynamics I
    Statistical Physics I

    If you could list them from hardest to easiest that would be great.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 1, 2010 #2


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    My estimation would be Electrodynamics, assuming that it uses problems from Jackson.
  4. Apr 1, 2010 #3


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    It really depends on what specifically is required for the courses
  5. Apr 2, 2010 #4


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    Course level and difficulty depends on the lecturers and TAs.
  6. Apr 2, 2010 #5


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    As others have said, it depends on who teaches it and what they expect.

    Although I don't think you can teach out of Jackson and expect the word "easy" to describe anything for the first half of that whole text.
  7. Apr 2, 2010 #6


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    For me, QM was the hardest. My E&M class used Jackson, but I figured out the secret pretty fast - no one knows how to solve those problems, including my professors, so I just made up stuff. Got me A's in the class and that was my highest score on the qualifier. Or maybe I have a gift for E&M - who knows, I was never a fan of the subject. QM was more interesting to me although I couldn't BS my way through it as easily.
  8. Apr 2, 2010 #7
    I understand that a question like this is ill-defined, as it depends on the university's curriculum, the professor, the book chosen, the level of the other students in the class, and individual strengths and weaknesses.

    So each person might differ greatly from the next, but I wanted to see if on average, there were any trends. Of course this is informal, and you can't draw any scientific conclusions from the answers to this type of ill-defined question, but it bothers me that one of my teachers says her subject is the hardest and reminds us of this everyday, and I don't know on what basis she says this, so I wanted some data to back her assertion.
  9. Apr 2, 2010 #8


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    When you say "physics graduate courses" do you mean undergrad or grad level?
  10. Apr 2, 2010 #9
    Grad level. I chose to list those particular courses because those are the core courses that all grads have to take at my college, but what's considered "core" might differ from college to college.
  11. Apr 2, 2010 #10
    A lot depends on the teacher, but for me it was Methods of Mathematical Physics I because for the physics classes I could associate things with the "real world", and the class was taught by a mathematician rather than a physicist.
  12. Apr 3, 2010 #11
    Quantum Electrodynamics !
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