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What do undergraduate physics student do in their final year report or thesis?

  1. Aug 8, 2007 #1
    Normaly what do undergraduate physics students do in their final year report or thesis?
    1. Create new theories? Unlikely but not impossible.
    2. Simulation? What do they simulate and what computer programe do they use?

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 8, 2007 #2


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    A pactical project that is a geatly expanded lab class involving building some equipment.
    A literature review of a field.
    A simulation/modelling project could be in C++/Fortran or use something like mathematica/ mathcad
  4. Aug 8, 2007 #3
    Depends on how much freedom you are given and when you start.

    Some schools have students working on their senior thesis starting the end of their sophmore year, while others at the end of their junior.

    If you had the time and resources I do not foresee a reason that would hold you back from designing and preforming an experiment that could contribute to the filed as a whole.

    If you weren't given this much freedom, probably a lit review and prospectus would be called for.

    If you were planning on doing teaching as a career a developed curriculum might hold as an undergraduate thesis.
  5. Aug 8, 2007 #4
    The honours thesis during my undergrad was for 8 months in the final year. Most of the students shopped around for supervisors and then asked them for background material on possible projects.

    It's hard to develop an original idea from scratch - for a thesis you really need some starting point that will guarantee you that you can do enough work to actually produce a thesis. Most theory theses take an existing idea and try to either generalize it or apply it to a specific situation and then develop the consequences.

    As for numerical methods, most scientific programming is done in fortran or (more commonly now) C++, although some astro people work with wacky scripting languages. The advantage of doing a computational thesis is that you get to explore a complex problem for which people have probably already thought about the analytic solution in a really simple case (eg the Heisenber model on a square lattice vs the Heisenberg model on a ring). Numerical methods are handy for any physics problem which can be written in terms of differential equations (eg fluid dynamics problems) or matrices (spins-on-a-lattice problems).

    Students also work on experiments for their thesis projects!
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