How does nature work? How can we use its concepts? By making models and formulating natural laws, we can describe and predict the natural world.
Physics is a 'hard' science: it is concerned with hard figures,
precise and pure measurements. These are used to produce models and
explain natural phenomena.
The Bachelor's programme in Physics lasts three years. During your first year, you will study basic subjects such as mechanics, special relativity, and electricity & magnetism. You will also take practical courses. During this year, you can choose between four tracks:
- Biophysics & Medical Physics
- Energy & Environmental Physics
- Particle Physics
Physics graduates have excellent opportunities on the job market. You can work as a researcher at a company or an institute, or for example as a consultant, because you will have the analytical skills that are both needed and wanted to solve complicated questions in such environments.
These subjects changed the way I saw the world around me
I was always curious about how everything around me worked. At first, I was interested in devices like cars and computers. But eventually, if you ask 'why' enough times, you end up at the fundamentals – which is physics.
It turns out that nature does not operate in as straight forward a manner as it seems. Quantum mechanics and relativity can be very counterintuitive. That made me want to learn all about it. I looked up the statistics on job security after completing the degree programme and they were reasonably high. Because the subject is interesting to me and because the job prospects looked good, I enrolled in the degree programme in Physics.
We started with special relativity, which turned out to be a
nice introduction to the type of insights that would be uncovered
during the rest of the degree programme. It did not require any
advanced mathematics and it also explored interesting concepts
about the perception of time.
In the second year, quantum mechanics was taught. This required a bit more work but the insights that were obtained were very interesting and strange. These subjects stood out since they really changed the way that I saw the world around me.
The most difficult subjects for me were some of the course units in mathematics. Not because they were particularly hard but because I could not immediately see why I needed to learn those subjects. However, later in my studies, these subjects came back and their value became clear.
Besides studying Physics, I joined the Mayday student sailing society. I do recommend joining some kind of student or sports organization when starting your student life in Groningen. It is a great way to make friends quickly and to make the most out of student life. I also worked as a teaching assistant (TA) for a programming course unit on Python. TA jobs let you work in the field of your interest and provide a decent salary.
I will do my Master’s degree programme in Applied Physics.
The other Master’s programmes are more research oriented.
However, I would like to go into industry after my studies. Applied
Physics seems to be the programme that best suits that interest,
while still teaching subjects in physics that I find
Physics is amazing
I decided to study Physics, because Physics is amazing! I'm from Chennai, India, and I decided to study in Groningen, because it seemed like the course structure was tailored for me in terms of specializations and academic rigour. I find Physics intuitive and the course isn't that difficult. There are just many tasks in very small time scales, which makes the program time intensive if you wish to perform well.
So the biggest advice I can give you: University is not an extension of school, no matter where you're from. You will need to develop effective systems if you want to perform well, even if you didn't need one back in school.
I like the idea of working on an unsolved problem
'I had to write a research proposal as part of a Master's in Nanoscience. I submitted the proposal to NWO and they gave me a grant for my research!
I work at the interface of Physics and Chemistry, studying perovskite materials which are used in solar cells. We are not sure exactly how they work, which is why we are studying their structural properties. I’m regularly at my desk reading or drawing graphs, but I also use several laboratories on a daily basis to do chemistry experiments, X-ray diffraction or to measure the electrical properties of the material. I also give tutorials and I’m supervising a Master’s student. I like it here; I like the idea of working on an unsolved problem. And we have a close-knit research team; we have lunch together every day.’
Machteld Kamminga - PhD student at Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials