Illuminated line volume supernova, by Blondin and Mezzacappa
Average intake at Wadham: 8
Physics is concerned with the study of the universe from the smallest to the largest scale: it is about unravelling its complexities to discover the way it is and how it works. Discoveries in physics have formed the foundation of countless technological advances and play an important role in many scientific areas. The contributions of physics to solving global problems such as energy production, environmental protection, global warming and public health are essential and have an enormous impact on our society.
Physics at Wadham
A good proportion of graduates go on to work for advanced degrees, in Oxford or elsewhere. Some make direct use of the subject matter of their degree and take employment in the electronics industry, in engineering, in computing, or in industrial or government laboratories. Others use the intellectual training that comes from taking a degree course in any subject, and apply that in business, commerce, industrial management; the variety of careers is very wide. Recent graduates from Wadham have entered such diverse areas as medical physics, the law, oil prospecting, accountancy, teaching, the British Antarctic Survey, the European Patents Office.
Some candidates ask for deferred entry because they wish to interpose a year between school/college and university. We do however like to assure ourselves, in the student's interest, that the time spent away from academic study is going to be used profitably and in a way that keeps the student's mind active. As an example, some industrial sponsorship schemes ask the student to work in industry for a year as the beginning of a '1-3-1 sandwich'. If you are thinking of a gap year, tell us at the time of application: if we offer a place it will be for a specified year, and it may be impossible to change the offer later on.
A Student's Perspective
'The Physics course at Wadham is always challenging but is equally extremely rewarding. The course covers a broad range of topics in the first year, from Optics and Mechanics through to vector calculus, though most areas usually require a strong maths basis. I chose to apply here partly for the excellent teaching and facilities, but also to be surrounded by others who have a similar passion for physics as I do. One of the best things about being at Wadham in my experience is having that smaller group of eight or so physicists in my year that I can always turn to for help to tackle a tricky problem.
In terms of course layout at Wadham, on top of lectures and labs in the department, I tend to have two tutorials a week, one on the maths side of the course and one for the physics side. These vary in length but usually involve going over the problem sheet we have done the previous week. A real plus of the Oxford system, these allow to iron out any problems I have been having with the lecture material in a small group atmosphere.
In addition to the great academic side of studying here, Wadham has an amazingly inclusive and friendly atmosphere, and one is sure to have fun whatever one’s personality. Even though the physics course takes up the majority of my time, I still manage to find the hours for rowing outings and having a laugh; life is not entirely defined by work. The last thing I can say is that if one really has a passion for physics and wants to take it further, applying to Wadham is a really great choice.'