1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Whats Physics at uni like?

  1. Jul 8, 2007 #1
    Ok. I have an offer to study Physics at Nottinham university (UK) next year. However after thinking about it im not sure it is for me for the following reasons:
    - Altough im quite good at physics/maths im not really interested in it.
    - I want to earn a lot of money after my degree.
    - Im not sure id get along with people on my course becasue im very sporty.
    - I'm not sure id be very good at it.

    I'll probably get AAB at a-level so will make the grades but id be interested in knowing a few things about university phyiscs?

    -Do you have to remember vast amounts of formulai?
    -Is the maths incredibly hard?
    - What are the people like (i know but generalise a bit for me)?
    -What sort of jobs can you get after your degree?
    - How hard is a degree in phyiscs?

    I know you are probably thinking why did I even apply? But the thing is I was good at physics at a-level and will easily get an A so I though it was an easy option for me considering i didnt want to face 3 years of none stop maths.

    Plus does anyone know how difficult it would be for me to change my degree to either economics or law?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 8, 2007 #2
    Just personally, I know money may be an issue, but you should always pursue a career that you are in interested in. You may be in it for quite some time after all.
  4. Jul 8, 2007 #3
    I'm in my fifth year of my MSci physics so I can answer most of your questions.

    Straight away my advice is that if you are not interested in physics then do not study it. Only go to university to study something you have an interest in, otherwise you'll never be motivated to study enough.
    However, if you are good at physics and maths but simply want to make a lot of money, then have you considered doing a physics and finance degree?
    More and more universities are offering this course but here is a link for the University of Surrey

    Yes you often have to remember some formula for an exam but the large complex formula are usually given and you just have to know how to derive it and how to use it.
    The maths is ok as long as you are prepared to put in the work and practise examples. How "hard" it is just depends on how much effort you are willing to put in.

    The people on a physics degree are much the same as on any degree. Some people are very into their subject, other people are more into the partying side of uni and the vast majority fall somewhere in the middle. Our physics department has regular 5 a side football games. There are lots of sporty people, not everyone lives and breathes quantum physics ;)

    If you are really not sure about what you want to do then maybe consider taking a year out to work or travel. I've seen so many people drop out of University because they are not interested and it is a shame to waste that time. 3 years is a long time so make sure you are happy about what you are studying and where you are studying it. University is a lot of fun but if you are not interested then you could just end up miserable for 3 years.
  5. Jul 8, 2007 #4
    Just thought I should mention that I don't go to Surrey University so can't answer any specific questions. I can only really answer questions about Scottish universites.
    I just did a quick google search for physics and finance degrees in England and it was the first to come up. A few other universites offer the course so it'd be worth having a look about, it's not too late to change your application.
  6. Jul 8, 2007 #5
    I think it is too late to change my application if I want to go this year. In all honesty and without wishing to sound arrogant I wouldn tbe willing to go to a university like Surrey and wouldnt want to do something like Physics and Finance as it seems kind of flaky at best.

    Really how hard is it to change course if i decide physics isnt for me when i get to uni?
  7. Jul 8, 2007 #6


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    I've just finished my undergrad degree at nottingham and, whilst i didnt do physics (i studied maths) the departments are very closely linked, and I know a lot of people who studied physics.
    This would be my first warning bell, that you say you're not really interested in your subject. That said, you haven't studied it to this level, and I'm sure you'll find some topics you enjoy more than others.
    Hmm.. doing physics will not specifically get you a highly paid job, however it is common that people apply to graduate schemes for banks, accountants, etc. for which it does not depend upon your degree.
    This is just a wrong sterotype. Firstly, there are a wide variety of people who study physics at university-- some you'll get on with, and others you won't. Such is life. However, there are many opportunities to meet people other than those off your course. In halls of residence in my first year I met way more people than i did from my course, lots of whom I still get on with.
    This has already been answered really, although I've heard that you don't need to memorise many formulae-- exams test knowledge not memory.
    One of my friends told me that the maths- type modules were here favorite. I think if you're good at a level maths (i.e. basic calculus and algebra), then you should be fine with the maths in the course.

    If it's in the first term of first year that you want to change, then it should be fine (although easier for economics than law). After that, you would have to enter at the start of the next year.
  8. Jul 8, 2007 #7
    I don't know anything about Surrey, like I said, I just did a quick google search so you could maybe think about the different options. You can also do the course at Manchester, QMUL, Strathclyde, possibly other places too.
    I'm not sure how it's "flaky". You study physics, maths and finance classes separately. If you reached the end of first year and wanted to ditch the physics or the finance then it would be easy enough to change without having to repeat a year.
    I just thought I'd mention it since you had expressed an interest in economics too. Not many people are aware of the possibility of combining the two subjects.

    It actually isn't too late to change your application. You can change right up to beginning of September. Phone someone at UCAS and they can give you more details.

    You might go to uni and find that you do enjoy physics afterall, but you might not so it is worth looking into different options if you have your doubts.
    As for changing course the best thing you can do is phone someone at Nottingham - they will be happy to answer any questions. Course flexibility varies a lot between different universities and departments.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook