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Physics, or Theoretical Physics?

  1. May 14, 2007 #1
    I am not sure whether I want to study Physics, or Theoretical Physics at University.

    What is the main difference? The courses are at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, if you guys want to have a look at their basic overview of them.

    I would just like to hear some experienced opinions.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 14, 2007 #2

    chroot

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    If you're talking about undergraduate education, they're the same. There's no "theoretical physics" major.

    - Warren
     
  4. May 14, 2007 #3
    Yea, I've just finished high school.

    No, there are two seperate courses. You can choose Theoretical Physics, or Physics through a common entry into Science.
     
  5. May 14, 2007 #4

    cristo

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    There is at some universities over here. The first two years are basically an undergrad physics degree, and the final year is purely theoretical, with labs replaced by more maths heavy courses.
     
  6. May 14, 2007 #5

    chroot

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    Oh you're talking about just taking single classes, rather than entire programs of study.

    If you just finished high school, do you think you're prepared for either of these classes?

    - Warren
     
  7. May 14, 2007 #6

    cristo

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    I've had a look at the website, and it seems that the last year of the theoretical physics course is administered in part by the school of maths. From my experience, it is far easier to change course from a "joint" degree to the main school, than to change from a straight course to a joint degree. Thus, if you're not sure, then I'd apply for the theoretical course, and make your mind up when you get there. It might be worth sending an email to check whether it is possible to change if the need should arise, since I'mk not familiar with the Irish system.. I'm just basing my judgement on the English system.

    On making your mind up for one or the other, have you read through the two course descriptions? How good is your maths, as it'll need to be stronger to study theoretical? Also, do you have any career plans for the future? These will all play a part in your final decision.
     
  8. May 15, 2007 #7
    Well to be honest, I have always just had a fascination with with Physics in general, but more with the cutting edge you know?

    I would probably go on for a further degree, and perhaps would like to remain in the Physics world, perhaps on research?

    I understand that Theoretical is more math based, but is there any difference in the subject matter (s?) taught, or career opportunities available?
     
  9. May 15, 2007 #8

    ZapperZ

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    Just for your own "cultural" benefit, theoretical physics is a part of "physics". So your title for this thread doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Maybe you are trying to differentiate between theoretical physics and experimental physics. However, both are inside of Physics.

    As you progress even more, you'll start learning about the different subject areas in physics. Just don't make the same mistake in distinguishing Physics and "solid state physics", for example.

    Zz.
     
  10. May 15, 2007 #9
    Just for some clarification in case there is confusion...

    Just because its 'theoretical physics' doesn't means its more cutting edge. ALL research being done, experimental or theoretical, is cutting edge. Thats what makes it research. If it was known already, whats the point? ;)

    Good luck in whatever you choose
     
  11. May 15, 2007 #10
    Yea, I realize the name is a bit silly. Its just that one course is specifically called theoretical.

    So, I guess the main difference is, that there is more emphasis on "hands on" experience with the standard Physics course, but the other is more "black-board and chalk" math orientated?

    So, I'm presuming my options will not be limited after my degree by which ever I pick?
     
  12. May 16, 2007 #11
    I'm a first year undergraduate at Uni of Manchester, doing Physics With Theoretical... if you're a fan of laboratory work, then don't opt for theoretical, otherwise i'd really recommend it... we look at a course in Lagrangian dynamics next semester, whereas the straight physics students probably look very little at what i'd call the FUNDAMENTALS or what seems to me the ROOT LAYERS of physics... it just seems to me that i'd be missing out on some of more important, thought admittedly more difficult, stuff if i hadn't opted for theoretical
     
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