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Physics on its own or a Joint Honours of Physics + Computer Science

  1. Sep 13, 2012 #1
    Hi guys I'm new here, looking for advice on what Honours degree to do next year.

    I left High School at 16 (I am now 23) and have been working in IT for the past 4-5 years, boring IT support kind of jobs. I've been an avid user of Linux(Fedora) for quite some years and have self-taught a little of PHP and Python in that time too.

    I will be starting an "Access to HE" course next week and then will be(hopefully) going on to do a full Bsc Honours next September. The obvious choice at first was a plain Computer Science degree, however, I have always loved Physics and Astronomy for as long as I can remember. So now I have the chance to study it(physics) properly, I am a bit confused on what to choose to do as my Honours.

    I would rather a career in Physics/Astronomy than IT, so I am thinking maybe do a straight Physics degree but I also have the choice at a few Uni's to do a joint Honours with Computer Science.

    What do you guys think?

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 13, 2012 #2
    I know that the unemployment rates for the two majors are roughly the same. That being said, many physics majors wind up working in the financial industry or some other non physics related field. Especially given your work experience as a computer tech, actually working in a computer science field will be almost certain if you major in CS.

    As for the joint pogram, Idk. Is the joint program physics/CS or physics/astronomy/CS? If it's the latter, I wouldn't do it. You won't be learning much in depth on either of the three subjects. If it's the first, I'd say it would depend on the school and how the program is constructed. Job market could be great for physics/CS combined degrees and it could be terrible. It's hard to say one way or the other.
  4. Sep 16, 2012 #3
    Even if you'd be interested in some kind of physics-related jobs or physics research, programming skills are nowadays essential and relevant for some, if not most tasks, even if it's just something like Matlab or Scipy. But it doesn't mean that you'd need to study CS, at least not "formally", because CS is about computers and mathematical concepts related to computing, not training one's programming skills per se. And CS definitely isn't the same as maths, which are essential for actually being able to describe the phenomena being modeled. And in physics-related jobs, the emphasis is generally in getting a calculation or a simulation done, rather than large-scale software implementation. And even then, there are work teams for that kind of work, it's definitely not a one-man job. Of course if you get into more engineering-like jobs, then it could be a bit different than applying or researching physics or writing software.

    Do what you find most interesting. And be sure to check the curricula to see if they really have what you're interested in.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2012
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