Physics, Physics and Philosophy

Tutors and Lecturers: Prof. Axel Kuhn, Dr Alan Merchant, Prof. Guy Wilkinson, Mr Challenger Mishra, Dr David Alonso

Places at Christ Church: 6 - 8

Why is the sky blue? What is the nature of time? It is the business of physics to answer such questions. Physics is the most fundamental of the sciences, and seeks to understand all natural phenomena in terms of basic principles. Technological advance, whether fibre optics for communications or the development of a quantum computer, depends on this understanding. Oxford, with a world class reputation in research, and the largest physics department in the UK, is wellplaced to promote it. Christ Church, Einstein’s college in the early 1930s, has a strong tradition in physics. The Wetton Chair in Astrophysics is attached to the College, and there is a vigorous research community in addition to the teaching activities. We accept around 6-8 undergraduates each year, many of whom go on to higher degrees.

For the first three years, the Oxford course concentrates on a thorough grounding in the core areas, together with the necessary mathematics. At this point, one can take a B.A. Honours degree, or stay on to take the M. Phys. This involves a further year, during which two options are chosen for advanced study – for example, elementary particle physics, astrophysics – which approach the frontiers of research, and individual project work is undertaken, frequently in a research group.

To pit one’s wits against Nature is a tough intellectual challenge, but those willing to accept it acquire important skills. They learn to marshal evidence and problem-solve. Physicists have a high level of analytical ability, and can apply it to real situations. This expertise opens the door not only to scientific research, but to a wide variety of careers.

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