Corpus Christi College Oxford

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Physics

We typically seek to admit 6 students across Physics and its joint schools each year.

Physics is a hugely important subject. Understanding physics gives insight into how the world around us works - from the sub-atomic scale to the large-scale structures of the Universe. Physics is a subject that adapts well to an ever-changing environment, and that is why physicists are highly sought-after in the professional world. Physics also stands for innovation, for ideas and outcomes that were not planned. It is exactly this aspect of the subject that produces leadership and advantage in the commercial world. Neither the transistor nor the world-wide web were planned - these ‘inventions' happened because physicists were enthusiastic about what they did.


Oxford has one of the largest Physics departments in the UK. The ~180 undergraduates in each year are reading for either a three-year (BA) or a four-year Master in Physics (MPhys) degree. The four-year course is intended primarily for those who wish to pursue a career in science. If you are unsure whether to choose the three- or the four-year course, it would be best to register for the four-year degree because you can change from MPhys to BA during your course.


Prof Kraus researches the nature of ‘Dark Matter' in the Universe, has an interest in CP-violation, and develops new detectors for future experiments in particle-astrophysics. Prof Johnston investigates the properties of quantum-confined systems, especially optical and electronic processes occurring on a femtosecond timescale.


Prof Steve Cowley, the College President, read Physics at Corpus between 1978 and 1981.  He has a lifelong interest in realizing fusion power - perhaps the ultimate energy source. https://www.ted.com/talks/steven_cowley_fusion_is_energy_s_future?language=en. His other research interests include: the origin of magnetic fields in the universe and explosive events in astrophysical and laboratory plasmas.


Students who have graduated in Physics follow a wide variety of careers. Recent Corpus graduates have gone into various branches of Physics, but also into computing and information technology, banking, business, oil exploration, teaching, patent offices, aviation and consultancy firms.


The College admits six students each year to read Physics. The standard A-Level conditional offer for Physics is A*AA, with an A* in either Physics or Maths. Candidates are expected to have Physics and Mathematics to A-level, Advanced Higher, or Higher Level in the IB or another equivalent. The inclusion of a Maths Mechanics module would also be highly recommended. Further Mathematics can be helpful to candidates in completing this course, although not required for admission.


Physics and Philosophy


Physics and Philosophy have in common the pursuit of understanding of the world around us. They stimulate and strengthen each other in this pursuit. What is space? What is time? What is real? These are questions now at the forefront of research in physics; likewise they have puzzled philosophers for millennia, generating a wealth of insights which might stir current physics in new directions of enquiry. But also, what is the mental? What is the good? What is the beautiful? What are they over and above the physical description we can provide of their material realizations? The latest developments in physics might help philosophers to make progress on such questions. New models for the dependency of the non-physical on the physical might be drawn for example from QM , which looks at the way the microscopic world of particles impinges on the macroscopic world of cats, plants, cars we are familiar with. Philosophers benefit from scientific understanding, physicists benefit from philosophical reflection. Studying physics and philosophy together equips one with the foundations in both disciplines.


Oxford University has just recently launched a new podcast series which explores some of the links between physics and philosophy. You can listen to 'Physics and Philosophy: Arguments, Experiments and a Few Things in Between' on the University's podcasts website.


Candidates for the Joint School of Physics and Philosophy should demonstrate a keen interest in Philosophy. The standard A-level conditional offer is the same as listed above for Physics. An arts subject and Further Mathematics can be helpful to candidates in completing this course, although they are not required for admission.


 

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