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UK Uni; Maths With Physics

  1. Oct 27, 2008 #1
    Hi Guys, I am looking for some advice on my final Uni Choice in the UK. I did submit my application with Durham as my final choice, however I have decided I would rather substitute this for either Warwick or Bristol, to study Maths with Physics for at least the first year, then ill decided if I want to continue the course or switch to either the straight Maths of Physics Course. I am interested in Both Maths and Physics, but I would defiantly consider myself a Mathematician before a physicist.

    Any advice choosing between these two would be a great help. Im leaning towards Warwick at the moment because I know area, and it wouldn't be too much of a culture shift, which I would prefer (coming from the south east in Kent). Thanks Guys :-)
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 27, 2008 #2
    I felt the same way before university, I ended up doing Theoretical Physics, as I was worried that if I did joint Math-physics I would miss out on a lot of essential physics. However now having finished uni I feel like its the other way round, and that I took lots of unessential things to what I'm truly interested in (labs and some other courses that are more applied physicy), and I wish I had the chance to take more formal courses in things like Differential geometry/Group Theory/Algebraic Geometry/Topology, so I would prob choose joint math-phys if I could turn back the clock.

    I guess this only really is the case because Im hoping to go into String theory/High Energy Particle physics and I almost feel like so many courses I've taken are of no use to me now, whereas formal maths lectures would have smoothed the way so much. Don't get me wrong it's possible to learn the physics without being a maths undergrad, e.g. If you go on to study General Rel then they'll give you some preparatory lectures on Differential geometry, but it can be a little unsatisfying, because you feel like you only have a vague crumbling understanding of the very thing underpinning the whole subject.

    Of course it really depends on what your ultimate interests are, for example if you're going to be interested in any branch of physics other than String theory/Quantum Gravity/Elementary Particle....then the choice is prob do straight physics....if any of these areas do joint Math-Phys and make your life in a few years a bit easier.....Then again you may fall in love with Pure Mathematics and want to do something like Number theory and forget all about physics.....
    I guess the clear choice is do Joint MathPhys...although you still may find it hard after year 1 to choose between either subject, since 1) in the first yeear of a straight physics course typically more adv maths is done than in a first year maths course (again because mathematicians are so formal and rigourous so it takes longer to get to the juice) 2) you wont do much exciting physics in year 1 either, just prep things like electromag, thermo.....
    In the end it doesnt really matter, it just makes your life easier later, the sooner you decide what you ultimatley want to do....

    As for Bristol/Warwick, I have no idea :)
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2008
  4. Oct 28, 2008 #3
    Thanks h0dgey84bc, You know That was just the sort of thing I needed, you basically read my mind!! :-). I do keep wavering between Maths and Physics, But I keep ending up back at Maths, and it is my first love and the stuff I really enjoy. I think I have been wanting to do some Physics too because I do want like an end result to any Maths work I do, But I think you kind of confirmed what I suspected, at least for undergrads, many would be ignorant to the deeper mathematics, only using math but not truly understanding it. But it seems that It really doesn't matter incredibly the arrangement I have in my first few years, It is in that time that I will really discover my true scientific passions, and only then will I be able to make a discerning choice. Thanks h0dgey84bc, it was such a help.

    And if there is anyone who could give any advise on the Warwick/Bristol dilemma, it would so appreciated.
  5. Oct 28, 2008 #4
    I was considering applying to Warwick as an international graduate student because it seems to be really good for geometric analysis and dynamical systems. I have browsed their site a few times and I don't recall them being as strong as other schools for mathematical physics, at least not the whole quantum gravity, quantum field theory type mathematical physics. They do have some fluid dynamics people that seem to be very good.

    I also really want to pursue mathematical physics. It seems that Cambridge's DAMTP is probably one of the best programs in the world to pursue this. They seem to really toe the line between mathematics and physics.

    For me, I think the best compromise is to pursue mathematics, but a field that interacts with physics a lot. Something like Riemanninan Geometry, Algebraic Geometry, Gromov-Witten theory, etc. That way you can work on math and then just apply it to physics. However there are always compromises involved. I'm sure a math department would prefer you to publish actual proofs or theorems. But I say it can be done, especially as a lot of the theoretical physics nowadays is extremely mathematical. Complex geometry is another example.
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