What sort of physics degrees are there?
A range of universities offer physics degrees, and many universities offer more than one physics degree. Undergraduate physics degrees can be mostly split into four main types:
- Physics BSc (standalone physics degree)
- Physics MSci (integrated undergraduate and master’s, four year degree)
- Physics alongside another subject
- Physics with a placement year/year abroad (four year degree)
Which physics degree is best?
None of these options is the ‘best’, as different people prioritise different things. Here are some things to consider, though:
If you’re struggling to decide between studying physics and another subject, a dual honours degree is a great choice. This allows you to study physics and another subject, with universities offering courses like physics and philosophy and physics with business studies. Note the wording of the degree: physics with xyz means the course content is 70% physics, while physics and xyz means that the course content is 50:50. This option allows you to gain specialised skills in two subjects, opening you up to a range of career options and postgraduate courses.
Another way to study a different subject is by taking a year abroad. A year abroad means that you’ll take courses at a different university, allowing you to learn about topics that your own university may not cover as much.
If you choose to complete a placement year or year abroad, this allows you to spend the third year of your degree either abroad or in full-time employment. It will be an exciting new experience: a placement year allows you to learn more about the physics industry and the working world, while a year abroad allows you to experience a new culture and different subjects. One downside is that you might find it difficult to adjust to a new environment, and may miss your university.
If you know that you find it difficult to adjust to new surroundings, completing an integrated master’s course might be a good fit. You’ll avoid the stress of master’s applications, and will continue your studies alongside the peers and professors you’ve known for the last three years.
Although an integrated master’s has its advantages, it’s not the best option for someone who is unsure what they want to do. You don’t want to start an integrated degree, and realise that you’d rather pursue a master’s in a different subject, or that you want to take some time out before postgraduate study.
Which university is the best for physics?
While some universities have more prestige and thus a few more opportunities, this doesn’t mean that you’ll have an excellent experience. Someone who studies physics at the top ranked university may not enjoy their experience as much as someone whose university is ranked 100.
Instead of worrying about your university’s reputation, focus on making the most of your degree, by staying on top of your studies and joining societies.