Study Maths and Physics

The most obvious reason is for the love and interest of the subject: choose mathematics and you choose one of the most powerful tools for analysis and problem-solving known to mankind; choose physics and you choose a subject providing an understanding of how the universe works from the smallest atomic particle to the largest galaxy.

Study Maths and Physics

Mathematics is a diverse subject, with many areas of specialisation, for example:

Pure Mathematics focuses on the reasons why mathematical processes work, leading to a better understanding of how to recognise the circumstances where they don’t work, what to do instead in those situations and how to evolve new techniques and results.

Applied Mathematics studies the mathematical modelling of real-life problems from areas such as finance, biology, medicine and physics.

Statistics is the science of data and is concerned with drawing sound inferences from a limited amount of data.

Operational Research deals with the applications of mathematics to problems in the organisation and management of industry and commerce.

Theoretical Physics is the formulation and mathematical development of fundamental physical theories, such as mechanics, relativity, cosmology and thermodynamics.

The Physics is a vast subject and includes areas such as:

Astrophysics includes study of the origins and evolution of the solar system, making use of data collected from international telescopes and satellite observatories.

Atomic and Molecular Quantum Dynamics, includes experimental studies of the fundamental properties of atoms and molecules.  Involves, for example, production, manipulation and characterisation of atomic, molecular and ionic beams.

Nanoscience involves study of materials with new and exciting,  examples include magnetic and ferroelectric materials for computer memories.

Plasma Physics, includes study of properties of high-temperature plasmas generated by lasers and low-temperature, electric discharge plasmas.  Applications include plasma deposition of computer chips and laser fusion.

Atomistic Simulation, aims to understand liquids, solids and the interfaces between them in terms of atoms and molecules.  Builds theoretical quantum mechanical models, and uses them in large-scale computer simulations, investigating structures, energies and dynamics.

Studying Mathematics and Physics

Undergraduate degrees at many British universities are modular and offer a considerable level of choice, including joint-degrees with related subjects like computer science.  Modules can be chosen to tailor the degree to suit the needs or interests of each student. 

Most students take the traditional BSc, which is a 3-year degree, though increasingly, students take the more prestigious MSci (or MMath/MPhy) in some universities.  This is a 4-year degree, with higher entrance requirements, and involves a greater breadth of study, along with an extended full year research project. 

As well as providing a sound knowledge of mathematics and/or physics, a degree in these subjects will give a graduate a wide range of skills, including communication, numerical and mathematical, computation and word processing, data analysis and problem solving.

Careers in Mathematics and Physics

Mathematics and physics are fundamental to many aspects of modern life.  This includes technology, such as the computer, the laser, the compact disc, nanotechnology, space travel, mobile phones, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)… the list is endless!  Government, industry and commerce also utilise the detailed analytical and modelling capability of mathematics and statistics to underpin many activities.

Professions mathematics and physics graduates go into include:

Industry

The largest employment area for physics graduates is industry, working in production, research and development.  Industry is also a major employer of mathematics graduates, utilising their analytical and modelling skills.  The oil industry is one such area, where oil extraction relies heavily on numerical modelling. 

Finance and Business

The largest employment sector for UK mathematics graduates, with 40-50% taking up careers in business, commerce, finance and marketing.  This sector also employs a considerable number of physics graduates, due to their excellent numerical skills.

Health Service, Government etc.

Areas that handle large, population-level offer careers for statisticians, in fact due to the increased growth in the use of data, the demand for statisticians has increased.  Medical physics is an area of increasing opportunity for physics graduates.

Teaching

Because they have so many career choices, there is a shortage of physics and mathematics graduates entering the teaching profession.  This, however, means that the career prospects for mathematics and physics graduates are very good indeed!

University work and academic research

Many students, with a particular love of mathematics or physics for their own sake, will choose to stay at university to undertake research for a PhD.  This in turn may lead to a career in university lecturing, or may lead to a more specialised research post in industry, government etc.

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