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Univeristy of Western Ontario (Canada)

  1. Jun 20, 2011 #1
    What is the difference between
    Theoretical Physics under the department of applied mathematics


    Physics under the department of physics


    Thus, does UWO have a strong (theoretical) physics programme?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 20, 2011 #2
    First, I'd like to say I'm currently attending UWO (in physics of course), so my post might be biased in favour of UWO.

    The applied math program you're forced to combine it with a major in applied math and you're also required to take all of the 'tougher' upper year courses (Quantum 3, EM2, Classical Mechanics 2, etc.) Look at the degree requirement.

    The Physics program from the Physics department does not require all of the above. The highest you are *REQUIRED* to go is Classical Mech1, EM1, and Quantum 2, as well as other courses as you'll see when you look at the degree requirements.

    Also, the Theoretical physics program is a double major, applied math and theoretical physics. The honors Physics program is not, it's an honors specialization which also requires original research in your fourth year (you can do theory!!! Not just experimental). To satisfy your itch to do theory and also original research you can take the Honors Spec Physics combined with the Minor in Advanced Physics *links below*. This basically makes it a 'theoretical' physics degree due to the higher physics and math courses that you'll have to take. I'm currently enrolled in the Honors + Minor since I didn't really want to cut myself off from the experimental side (i.e. in the applied math route there is no experimental work, in the honors route you have to take a 2nd and 3rd year lab course, giving you experimental experience).

    Here are the links to the programs:
    http://westerncalendar.uwo.ca/2011/pg721.html" [Broken]
    http://westerncalendar.uwo.ca/2011/pg1471.html" [Broken]
    http://westerncalendar.uwo.ca/2011/pg604.html" [Broken]
    http://westerncalendar.uwo.ca/2011/pg601.html" [Broken]

    I'd also like to note that according to the calendar the major in theoretical physics CANNOT usually be completed in 3 years (after completing your first year reqs).

    As for our strength in theoretical physics. At the undergrad level I'd have to say it's mediocre (though I don't know all the details). We do have ties with the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, off the top of my head I know Dr. Miransky is jointly appointed there, there may be more faculty as well. Another thing I'd like to note is that Dr. Miransky had a strong hand in the theoretical framework behind Graphene which ultimately led to this years Nobel Prize in Physics (there's an article on the physics home page about it).

    If you have any more quesions feel free to ask (course related, prof related, what to take, etc...)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  4. Jun 20, 2011 #3
    Thank you! I really appreciate your reply!

    May I ask you few more things?

    If I am seriously concerning to continue studying theoretical physics and aim for phD (which is far-fetched because I am just a high school student), is it better to take Honours Specialisation than Major in Theoretical Physics?

    Plus, is it possible to apply for theoretical physics from high school, spend my first year at UWO, and then apply for Honours Specialisation in Physics?

    And most importantly, how is london? Landscape, access to health care, crime rates,etc. I googled 'the best place to live in Canada) and london ranked the 14th, which is really great. But numerical data doesn't give the actual picture. In fact, I live in Halifax. It's quite nice here but kind of boring.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2011
  5. Jun 21, 2011 #4
    I'd recommend you do the Honors Spec with the minor. I know theoretical physics seems like a dream job to you at this time but you really want to keep your options open. With the minor you can take a lot of the courses you'd be missing from the major in theoretical physics. You can go straight into a theoretical physics program out of the honors specialization so it's not like you're at much of a disadvantage. You won't know for sure if theoretical physics is really what you want to do until you encounter the advanced mathematics involved. It's rather daunting. I strongly urge you take a look at the overlaps between the honors and the major and see which courses really interest you that you might not be taking; then take a look at the minor and see if they're in the minor as well.

    The first year requirements for both programs are identical, so yes, you can do that.

    London is a pretty good city tbh, I lived in a bad area last year so we had to deal with a couple break-ins, but that was just because our landlord was an idiot and didn't fix our broken windows. If you live in the right area (I'd recommend the west side of the city). Then you shouldn't have a problem in terms of crime rate. Landscape is pretty dull in the city, the vibe you get downtown during the day is rather scummy, which sucks, but the nightlife is pretty awesome. Access to health care... depending on where you live you might have a clinic right next door to you, but keep in mind you pay for a health plan with your tuition, so you can go to the on-campus doctor. The only downside to that is that it is NOT a walk-in clinic, you have to book an appointment either early in the morning or the day before.

    From my experience living in both Halifax and Victoria BC, Halifax is much nicer than London. But London does have the best looking university campus in Ontario (maybe Canada?). The UWO campus is amazing.
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