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Physics or E.E. and what subjects?

  1. Feb 24, 2012 #1
    I'm looking for a bit of advice about the +'s and -'s to doing either Physics or E.E. and what sort of prospects you have at the end of it.

    I had initially thought about doing E.E. as electronics is one of my favourite topics in school and the E.E. open day at my local uni was interesting and the subject really looked like what I wanted to do. The starting salaries after uni weren't too shabby either and there are plenty of scholarships and funding availible for E.E. at the uni.

    However I was reading the prospectus for the uni and I was reading the physics entry and seen that there are electronics and computing elements in the physics course. Also I read some of the topics and realised that Quantum theory and electron dynamics sounded more interesting than signal analysis and microprocessing.

    Is it possible that I could do Physics for undergrad (BSci or MSci) and then do E.E. at postgrad level or would I be better off if I did an E.E. BEng or MEng and learnt the physics as personal interest?

    I've got Maths, Further maths, Electronics and Physics selected for A level but I've got one choice left but I'm not sure if I should maybe do a non-science subject for contrast (French or Economics) or should I stick and do an all sciences approach and take Chemistry or Computing as my fifth option?


    PS. Forgot to say that I'm in the UK if thats any use.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 25, 2012 #2
    If you do physics as an undergrad, then EE as a postgrad (or vice versa), you will be required to do some catching up to cover the missing courses. It will also be harder to get admitted if you switch fields.

    If you like electronics more, I would back the idea of doing an EE bachelor, you can attend some physics courses along, or learn it on your own.

    p.s. electrodynamics is a typical EE course as well (might be called differently, e.g. electromagnetics).
  4. Feb 25, 2012 #3
    If you only want to spend 3-4 years at uni, do E.E (it's expensive now for you guys - £9000 unless you're scottish or something). PhDs are usually free in the UK, but the idea of spending the next decade pottering around universities may not appeal to you.

    I know several physics grads who have gone onto engineering doctorates (Materials and EE) because getting into physics phd is VERY competitive. It also gave them unique skills that were rare in their new departments.

    Also - If you are choosing university courses, why they hell would you put down 5 unrelated disciplines? Pick what you want to do, then see who does it well and if you'd live in that city. There is no point putting French down as an option if there is no way you will take it.
  5. Feb 25, 2012 #4
    Thanks for you replies,

    Does rare mean good and did it help them or was most of the Physics not a lot of use?

    I'm only choosing my A levels now for my last 2 years at high school before uni but to get into most courses you only need 3 A levels or possibly 3 + AS at Oxbridge or Trinity or for medicine/law etc. I've worked out by the admissions requirements that all I really need is Maths, F. Maths and Physics for either EE or Physics so I was just wondering what would help me more in either of those fields so I could take it as a 5th option.

    If I done french I could do EE with studies in europe or Physics with studies in Europe. Basically its the same subject except you get extra classes of your chosen language and you do an extra year abroad either working or studying.
  6. Feb 25, 2012 #5
    Rare is absolutely good in this case. He is working on a project that looks at the effect irradiation has on steels used in long-term nuclear reactors. The group was full of people that know about metallurgy and microstructures of steel, processing routes, etc, but he could go in and describe the behaviour of nuclear decay and then model it in Matlab. His stand of maths and programming was so much higher than everyone else in the group.

    oh, I thought you were choosing uni courses, not A levels. Yeah, a language is always good.
  7. Feb 25, 2012 #6
    You can absolutely go from physics to EE. I went from physics to EE, and didn't need any catching up at all. In fact, EEs in my same year are catching up to me. I did, however, have a larger math background than was required of the standard physics degree, such as an advanced linear algebra course, that helped.
  8. Feb 26, 2012 #7
    What about the topics that aren't covered in physics like signal analysis?
  9. Feb 27, 2012 #8
    I took a lot of numerical analysis courses that would eventually cover some signal analysis, at one point or another. Also, signal analysis at the undergrad level is a relatively easy subject. I mean, of couse, whether you've got the background really depends on what field of EE you'd want to go into. I'm working in optics, where a bunch of physicists work too, so there's a natural crossover between EE and phys. If you want to go into IC electronics, you may need to have classes that go over op amps at the transistor level. If you want to go into digital systems, you will want your Comp Sci coding up to pace. So on and so forth.
  10. Feb 27, 2012 #9
    You can easily go from EE to physics as well. Most of the EE's I've seen are absolute beasts when it comes to physics. They get a heavy dose of E&M then also learn alot of linear algebra and fourier stuff that has direct applications to QM. I know several electrical engineering majors that are currently in my PhD program, some took a handful of physics classes during their undergrad, others didn't. In my program, any major other than physics had to take some advanced undergrad classes to make up any weaknesses but it was usually only a semester worth.
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