What physics degree to choose?

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Hello!

I am currently a second year student at Scotland (by I am not from UK, I am from smaller country in EU), and I am successfully studying Physics and Maths after successful direct entry to second year. Unfortunately I currently see a big dilemma waiting for me.

At first main, general questions:

Why do I study physics? Because I want to understand how nature works, the world around me, to it's fundamental level.

What I want to do in my life? Well, difficult question. Hard to answer precisely, hence I will state only- something with physics. Also a quiet life with wife and children in quiet place.

Okay...

THE QUESTION- is which degree to choose?..

Choices I have, and arguments:


Master in Physics (MPhys) (Yes, I have an opportunity to go for masters without doing bachelor)

Well, I do like all the physics, all it excites me. I even enjoy my labs, although they require some effort for me sometimes to get right. However, I am not afraid to get my hands dirty and even enjoy that.
Also obviously prospects are important for me, since my funding sources are extremely limited. This degree offers great opportunity at industry (real prospect to find a job!). And yes, I want to have a family, hence academia is hard decision to make, but still PhD can be an option.


Master in Theoretical Physics

I think that I am good at theorising stuff, understanding of complex ideas is very fun for me, I like to feel my head getting heavy (that's because I play chess). I think that I can easily see patterns and the 'big view'. But unfortunately it is just opinion, hence it is tricky to judge well. (Although I am INTJ and I suppose to be able to judge myself well...)
The problem is that always when I see a some formula, an idea, etc., I always try to see deeper, until I find a reason. However sometimes I think, why not to do an experiment and see what happens... Which however might be philosophically not pleasing. And sometimes I feel the lack of 'to the ground' stuff, I mean I am happy to understand deeply all concepts, but I am unsure if I would be happy to keep my head 'somewhere in the clouds'. Also the problem with Theoretical physics is difficulty with future prospects, at least for me it looks so. In general I want to understand everything deeply, by I do not want to be an astronaut.

Master in Theoretical Physics and Mathematics (Yeah, this joint sounds cool)

Unfortunately in degree description it appears that I would loose tons of physics modules. And yes, I like maths a bit, at least I like to use it. I am disappointed sometimes when physics lecturer makes assumptions in derivation to simplify things, to avoid more complex maths. However I think that it is not too bad - easier to grasp concepts. Although sometimes I find myself trying to derive something that was showed in lectures, but by not using simplifying assumptions. Although I do not like rigours maths proofs of mathematical 'things', in this aspect my attitude is more like the physicist's one.

B.Sc. Physics? B.Sc. in Physics and Maths?
Engineering? M.Math Applied Maths. Might be an options, however in great doubt.



Hope you could refer me to some sources, perhaps to give your own experience, somehow to help me.
And yes, I make decisions based on arguments, not opinions, hence more arguments, the better!

Thank-you very much!

EDIT:

Well, perhaps even would be an option to take Master in Physics, but also take additional theoretical physics and some maths modules...
Damn it is hard when you like everything!

For me it appears that to study Theoretical physics is luxury...
 
Last edited:

Answers and Replies

  • #2
323
1
Hello!

I am currently a second year student at Scotland (by I am not from UK, I am from smaller country in EU), and I am successfully studying Physics and Maths after successful direct entry to second year. Unfortunately I currently see a big dilemma waiting for me.

At first main, general questions:

Why do I study physics? Because I want to understand how nature works, the world around me, to it's fundamental level.

What I want to do in my life? Well, difficult question. Hard to answer precisely, hence I will state only- something with physics. Also a quiet life with wife and children in quiet place.

Okay...

THE QUESTION- is which degree to choose?..

Choices I have, and arguments:


Master in Physics (MPhys) (Yes, I have an opportunity to go for masters without doing bachelor)

Well, I do like all the physics, all it excites me. I even enjoy my labs, although they require some effort for me sometimes to get right. However, I am not afraid to get my hands dirty and even enjoy that.
Also obviously prospects are important for me, since my funding sources are extremely limited. This degree offers great opportunity at industry (real prospect to find a job!). And yes, I want to have a family, hence academia is hard decision to make, but still PhD can be an option.


Master in Theoretical Physics

I think that I am good at theorising stuff, understanding of complex ideas is very fun for me, I like to feel my head getting heavy (that's because I play chess). I think that I can easily see patterns and the 'big view'. But unfortunately it is just opinion, hence it is tricky to judge well. (Although I am INTJ and I suppose to be able to judge myself well...)
The problem is that always when I see a some formula, an idea, etc., I always try to see deeper, until I find a reason. However sometimes I think, why not to do an experiment and see what happens... Which however might be philosophically not pleasing. And sometimes I feel the lack of 'to the ground' stuff, I mean I am happy to understand deeply all concepts, but I am unsure if I would be happy to keep my head 'somewhere in the clouds'. Also the problem with Theoretical physics is difficulty with future prospects, at least for me it looks so. In general I want to understand everything deeply, by I do not want to be an astronaut.

Master in Theoretical Physics and Mathematics (Yeah, this joint sounds cool)

Unfortunately in degree description it appears that I would loose tons of physics modules. And yes, I like maths a bit, at least I like to use it. I am disappointed sometimes when physics lecturer makes assumptions in derivation to simplify things, to avoid more complex maths. However I think that it is not too bad - easier to grasp concepts. Although sometimes I find myself trying to derive something that was showed in lectures, but by not using simplifying assumptions. Although I do not like rigours maths proofs of mathematical 'things', in this aspect my attitude is more like the physicist's one.

B.Sc. Physics? B.Sc. in Physics and Maths?
Engineering? M.Math Applied Maths. Might be an options, however in great doubt.



Hope you could refer me to some sources, perhaps to give your own experience, somehow to help me.
And yes, I make decisions based on arguments, not opinions, hence more arguments, the better!

Thank-you very much!

EDIT:

Well, perhaps even would be an option to take Master in Physics, but also take additional theoretical physics and some maths modules...
Damn it is hard when you like everything!

For me it appears that to study Theoretical physics is luxury...

I'm not even sure how to approach this post but I will try. It sounds like you are pretty indecisive, which is normal for a first or even second year student as yourself. If you keep doing what you are doing(which is I guess pursuing a double major in math and physics), this will leave you open for lots of options. If you keep going with this, I am sure you will have a better idea where to go in the future.
 

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