What Physics is like at uni


By Naiyira Naweed, BSc Physics, Department of Physics

Physics at university is hard work, but that makes it even more rewarding when everything clicks together. I have 19 contact hours per week and this is spread out across lectures, labs, and a tutorial. In A-level physics so many topics I learnt about were kept separate, but at university they are united, and it is fascinating seeing all the links between topics come together (an example of this is how simple harmonic motion seems to come up in so many different lectures).

In my weekly tutorials I meet with my tutor in a small group of students. Here we discuss the coursework and any work that we may be struggling on, and our tutor helps us with it. Tutors also take a pastoral role and so if you have any problems, they’re the first people to turn to.

Maths is of high importance and so there is an entire module dedicated to maths. Every maths lecture is followed by a problem class where we can test our understanding. It is vital that these problem classes exist as maths is not something which you can understand by just turning up to lectures. As my tutor has said to my tutor group before; it would be like going to violin lectures but never actually touching a violin!

What really appeals to me are the various ways that I am being assessed. This has so far been weekly coursework sheets, oral assessments, online quizzes, and a lab report. There is even a group podcast later this year! It is important for scientists to be able to collaborate well and so this is very useful. It is not all down to a single exam and that is important for me as I don’t like having all the pressure centred on one day.

Let’s not forget about the events. There are regular lectures from guest speakers on a range of topics. There is the Annual Higgs Lecture – which is named after the first speaker: Peter Higgs. This year it was an extremely interesting lecture about artificial intelligence. There are also physics societies such as Womxn in Physics who host events such as a Latex workshop that I went to and which helped me write my lab report. Not only are these events fun but educational too.

I love the atmosphere in the Department of Physics – and that is where you will find me most Wednesday afternoons. Students collectively sitting around doing coursework in their free time. The community at university is unlike anything that I had at my secondary school, as everyone wants to learn and succeed, and so you are surrounded by people who push you to achieve your best.

I thought physics at university was going to be amazing. But I was wrong – it’s that and so much more.

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