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Would physics be better for me?

  1. Oct 20, 2012 #1
    Hi all, I'm a student in the UK (Manchester University) in my first year of a maths degree. I'm going through a little bit of a crisis however as to whether maths is what I should be studying.

    Now I'm several weeks into my course, and I'm beginning to feel more and more like this isn't right for me. I don't at all find interesting the rigor and focus on proofs, logic, properties of numbers/sets and so on, and I'm struggling to feel any enthusiasm for the subject. The only part of the course I like so far is Calculus, and that's the most similar to what I did in secondary school.

    I'm beginning to think that I'd be much better suited to a physics degree. On one level, I'm far more interested in physics (e.g. the concepts and the research that goes on). I do love maths, but what I'm starting to suspect is I'd get more out of a course where I'm doing really cool things with maths to unearth properties of the universe, rather than learning purely about maths, if that makes any sense.

    Also, I'm far more excited about what I could do with physics as opposed to what I could do with maths, in terms of research. I'd love to contribute to our knowledge of energy, climate science, or any other number of fields, and I feel a physics background would be far more conducive to this than a maths one.

    Here's the rub: I only took Physics to AS level, and I only got a B. (Actually, I didn't take A-levels, but what I did take can be roughly equated to them). So if I were to try and arrange a transfer, I don't know how I could go about it.

    I'd welcome any advice or opinions
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 20, 2012 #2


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    You will need to talk to the university admin office to actually make a transfer, so they are the best people to talk to about the qualifications required for it.

    Since you have already been accepted to read for a degree, the situation is not quite the same as if you were applying straight from school to read physics. I would expect the univerity would be more interested in steering you towards a degree that you will do well in, rather than just letting you leave or (even worse) fail.

    I don't know how the U. of Manchester is organized, but if you have a member of staff nominated as your personal tutor/advisor/mentor, they would be the first point of contact. Otherwise, find the admin office phone or email from the website.

    In any case, the sooner you let them know the situation, the better.
  4. Oct 20, 2012 #3
    Yes, I think math is the wrong major for you. Mathematics is filled with rigor, logic and proof. If you don't like it now, then I'm afraid to say that it will only get worse. You like calculus, which is nice. But higher level mathematics is nothing like calculus. And judging from what you say, I doubt you're going to enjoy it.
  5. Oct 20, 2012 #4
    Before I do that, I want to be sure that physics would be the right choice. From what I said, does this sound like this is the case? Obviously, I realise that ultimately this will have to be my decision, but I welcome all opinions and advice on this.
  6. Oct 20, 2012 #5


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    If maths is the wrong choice, the university staff should have a better idea of the full range of alternatives than either you or we do. Don't put off starting the conversation just because you aren't sure what the final decision should be.
  7. Oct 20, 2012 #6
    Would they allow you to transfer to physics without the physics A level? Depending on the flexibility of the course (I know at Warwick & Cambridge they're very flexible) you can do a maths degree but do a lot of physics options.
  8. Oct 21, 2012 #7
    I'd be very surprised if they let me transfer immediately - what I think is more likely is that I'd have to see this year out and then (if I did switch courses) I would have to redo first year in my new subject.

    And while there are quite a few applied modules in my course, until my third year I would still have to take mostly pure courses, and that's the area of maths I'm beginning to think I really dislike.
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