What’s it like studying Physics?

Bradley Makinson

I have really enjoyed studying physics at Durham – there are so many interesting and unfamiliar concepts to tackle. In first year, I learnt about many new concepts in special relativity and quantum physics, and I personally found these to be the most interesting topics covered. There are also mathematics modules and a lab module that allowed me to carry out various experiments and analyse the resulting data. You then have the choice in later years to specialise in the area of physics you are most interested in. The good thing about the physics course at Durham is that you don’t have to make this decision until the end of your second year, giving you plenty of time to learn about different areas of physics and decide what areas you want to study further. As with any degree, it’s hard work, but it’s also rewarding and interesting.

What is physics and why did I choose to study it?

Physics is effectively the study of how the world around us works, from classical mechanics to the strange world of quantum physics. I chose to study physics because there is so much we simply do not know about it, such as the mysteries of dark matter/dark energy –there’s so much we don’t even know we don’t know! To me, that is exciting as it means there’s a large scope for discovery and ground-breaking research in the subject that could completely change the way we view the universe today. Another reason I was motivated to study physics is that areas of this research would have a direct impact on how we, and future generations, live our lives here on Earth, such as the development of nuclear fusion for cleaner energy. It was also the subject I enjoyed most at A-level, and it is important to study something you enjoy.

Why did I choose Durham?

One of the main reasons I chose to come to Durham was that it is one of the leading UK universities for physics, and the university are involved in research in astronomy, condensed matter physics, and particle physics among other areas. The astronomy department is one of the best in the country and, as someone with a keen interest in this area, that really appealed to me. Additionally, the course at Durham offered loads of modules in this area, as well as the opportunity to use the observatory telescopes in later years – pretty cool if you ask me! On top of this, the flexibility and structure of the course at Durham (such as not having to choose your degree title/specialism until the end of your second year) was a big factor in my decision.

I have also had electronics labs in both first and second year, where I had the chance to use various electronic devices, such as an oscilloscope. You can see this in the photo at the top of my blog!

Experiments!

I mentioned earlier that students studying Physics at Durham undertake a lab module in first year (and later years). I wanted to mention this again because it is my favourite part of the course, and was something I wanted to know more about before I came to Durham myself. Whether it be working with x-rays or getting hands-on with liquid nitrogen (with cryogenic gloves on, of course), the physics course at Durham has allowed me to use equipment that I’d never had the chance to use before to investigate interesting concepts.

Societies related to the course

I am part of the Physics and Astronomical societies, which are free for all students to join. The societies hold various events throughout the year, such as socials, stargazing sessions, and talks by professors in various fields! Attending events held by these societies was a great opportunity to meet more people on my course and take a break from working.

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Bradley Makinson

Hi! My name is Bradley and I’m a second year student at Collingwood College, studying towards a four year integrated Masters in Physics and Astronomy. I am from Manchester, England, and outside of my studies I enjoy motorsports and football, which led me to join the Formula One and Football Supporters Societies.

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