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Struggling to decide on a 4th subject in a physics major

  1. Jul 15, 2015 #1
    Hello everyone,
    I'm in my first year of a Bsc in Australia and am currently planning on majoring in physics and human geography (it is a strange combination I know). I have to pick my subjects forsecond semester and am faced with a dilemma. Currently I have chosen maths, geography and physics, but I have to chose one more subject. At the moment I tossing up between: computational science (in matlab and C+), chemistry (which I did last semester but didn't love), the history and philosophy of science or a political science subject (which, realistically, would be just for fun).

    My question is fairly broad, but essentially does anyone think that one of these subjects stands out as the best option? If I were to pick a subject purely out of enjoyment would that be a much worse than choosing a more useful subject?

    Thanks in advance
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 15, 2015 #2


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    I don't think it hurts to pick a fun subject in first year, really. How are you with programming? You'll have to do at least a bit of it in your physics major, and it doesn't hurt to take a course or two in computer science (especially if they're physics-appropriate languages like Matlab and C++).
  4. Jul 16, 2015 #3
    Hi. Thanks for you reply!
    I can do a bit of programming, but will have to improve with time. I'm pretty sure it will be a useful subject (it appears to be designed for physical science students, not straight computer science students), but am less sure whether it would be better than studying a subject with the intent of 'expanding my horizons' a bit. I have a higgledy piggledy mix of interests, so studying in another area does appeal. I could end up doing an arts/science combined degree in the end and having an arts subject under my belt would make things easier if I decide to take that part.

    Anyway, I'm kind of just thinking out loud (sorry) and still have a week to decide, so I'm sure it will all work out!
  5. Jul 16, 2015 #4


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    You should treat the course catalog like an "all you can eat" buffet. It's your chance to cram as much into your brain as you can for the fixed price of your school tuition.

    That does not necessarily mean "useful." But it also does not necessarily mean to load down from the ice cream section either.

    Think about what you want from your degree. Think about what you want to do with your degree. Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years? Which class is going to help you the most for those scenarios? You are building your future. If you pick classes that are fluffy you may be harming yourself. On the other hand, if you pick classes that are "useful" but that you hate, you may also be harming yourself.

    Think about your work load and how interesting you find the subject. If you take this class will you wind up being over worked? If you take that class will you be bored? Picking classes you will, over all, come out with a higher grade may be valuable. Picking things that will hold your interest and encourage you to work hard may be valuable.

    If you can align interesting with useful you will have struck gold.
  6. Jul 19, 2015 #5
    Hi DEvens,
    The "all you can eat buffet" simile is a good way of looking at it and not something I have done.

    I will definitely take on bored all you have said. I think part of the dilemma is that I think they will be all enjoyable and useful, just to different extents, which is something to work through and decide which to prioritize more. Without too much experience with either subject, things like workload and difficulty are not immediately obvious, but they are something I will look into over the next few days.

    Thanks for your help, it is appreciated
  7. Jul 19, 2015 #6


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    You can always go to the first lecture of the courses to see what captures your interest.
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