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Transferring to a physics degree [UK]?

  1. Dec 28, 2015 #1
    I have just completed the first semester at university (in the UK) for aerospace engineering.

    However, given the time off I have had recently for the Christmas break, I have had time to think much about my current studies. I am really starting to think my interest lies behind understanding the fundamental reasons as to why something occurs the way it does (physically) rather than just accepting this in good faith, and using the learnt physical principles to further human technology.*

    I originally had considered doing a masters in physics after my undergraduate studies, before going into a PhD. However since reading more into the prospects of doing this, it seems, at least superficially (from what I have read on the internet) it would be very difficult to do so.

    Hence I have considered transferring to an undergraduate degree in physics.

    If you were in my position would you continue on studying an undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering and hope to get on to a graduate physics masters, or transfer before completing any further of my degree?

    I appreciate the guidance given by this thread, but I'm not sure how much this applies to the UK.

    I am just a little concerned about being too hasty in any decisions, but I would be grateful for any input from anyone to perhaps further the clarity I have into the current situation.

    Many thanks for your time.

    Max

    *EDIT: see post below
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2015
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  3. Dec 28, 2015 #2

    Student100

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    The last bit makes me think you don't actually want to major in physics. Physics is about discovering physical principles, even if they have no obvious application to human technology.
     
  4. Dec 28, 2015 #3
    Sorry, I meant that I don't have as much interest in using these principals to further human technology.

    The 'rather' bit of the sentence actually referred to the entire remainder of that paragraph. I should have worded this more carefully
     
  5. Dec 28, 2015 #4

    Student100

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    Ah that makes more sense, you're in your first year and most of the courses should overlap if it's similar to the US, so there shouldn't be much of a rush in this decision. How about next semester take the introductory physics course for physics majors and see how you like it-then change majors if you feel the same way.
     
  6. Dec 28, 2015 #5
    Sadly, it isn't quite that simple in the UK, as I'm not studying in a major-minor type degree (most degrees here are subject specific all the way through).

    I'll see if there are any specifically physics based modules I may be able to take on top of my degree. But I have no individual module choices within my current degree structure due to all of my credits (not sure if you have these in the States?) being allocated to compulsory modules as it is.

    I hadn't considered looking for any introductory/specifically physics based modules to do on the side at my university. So many thanks for the suggestion - I shall look into it.

    Cheers.
     
  7. Dec 28, 2015 #6

    Student100

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    Oh, I didn't realize it was that different in the UK. How long do you tend to have until you can no longer reasonably change majors? Is there no overlap at all? (Basic intro physics courses, basic math courses, etc.)
     
  8. Dec 29, 2015 #7
    Well most of the maths modules are very similar, and the same with some of the more physics based. However, they don't overlap exactly with content, and (as would be expected) the physics for physics students is done to a much greater level.

    There is not really an official designated time in which to change the degree type, so it would really be a choice between changing degrees at the end of this year (and starting as a physics student) or continuing with my current degree with the hope of being accepted on to a physics based masters or phd.

    The main reason I am hesitant to make any hasty decisions are that reapplying for a physics degree would produce another years worth of fees (albeit cheaper than most American universities, I believe, but much harder to come by any scholarships/bursaries).

    I have also considered continuing as I am, until bachelors level (my current degree programme includes an aerospace engineering masters), and then applying for a physics masters, as some universities advertise engineering degrees to sometimes be adequate to get on to their courses.

    However, this doesn't seem as sure set as going for a physics degree straight from the beginning, hence my uncertainty in either option.
     
  9. Dec 29, 2015 #8

    Student100

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    It's tough because it's impossible to know exactly for how long you felt this way, or whether it's just a temporary feeling that will pass.

    In the US it's a lots simpler, since the first two years of an undergrad degree in physics or engineering have a lot of overlap to give students more time to really settle on one or the other (there's typically an intro series designed for physics majors, but you could take either the physics for physics majors or physics for engineering majors sequence as either a physics student or as an engineering student).

    If it were me, and I felt I always wanted to go to graduate school for physics, I would switch now before I went any further. A physics degree is the best way to get accepted into graduate studies for physics.
     
  10. Dec 29, 2015 #9
    Okay.

    Well, I'll send my tutor an email to see if it is possible to take any extra modules in physics in the seconds semester, and I'll see if these feelings continue or subside, if they continue, I'll know what to do and apply for a transfer of degree (this can only be done at the end of the academic year, which I forgot to clarify, sorry). But if I really decide this was just a phase, I shall continue onwards with my degree, and just 'see what happens'.

    I feel it is also tricky for me to tell how long I have felt this way also - but with a bit of luck time will tell.

    Many thanks for the help!

    Cheers,

    Max
     
  11. Dec 29, 2015 #10

    Student100

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    Emailing them to see if you can sub your physics module for the physics students module is probably the best bet.

    If you've just taken mechanics, pick up a copy of K&K and Feynman lectures volume 1 and give them a read/work through K&K in your spare time.
     
  12. Dec 29, 2015 #11
    Many thanks for the suggestion, I'll look up the K&K and Feynmann lectures stuff presently.

    I also have a few texts lying around that may be of relevance.

    Many thanks.
     
  13. Dec 29, 2015 #12

    WWGD

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