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This question is mainly aimed at people who know about the science market in the UK, but any suggestions would be much appreciated. I am a third year physics undergraduate, studding for an MSci (4-year master course). For my A-levels I took: Maths, Further Maths and Physics. This was fine up until now, when I realised that a lot of cool physics applications revolve around chemistry, biology and medicine - which is an area I am considering going into. My chemistry knowledge is very patch, probably barely GCSE level and I do not feel confident using it at all. I would really like to fix this so am considering taking a course in chemistry in my own time. So my question is:

  • A) Do people think taking a course is necessary to go into medical physics or a similar field?

  • B) What sort of course should I take? Should I study a A-level or does anyone know a course specifically tailed for people in my situation. Again thanks in advance for any suggestions.

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closed as off topic by Qmechanic, Kostya, David Z Sep 3 '12 at 18:38

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I think this may be off topic here, as it's really about chemistry. – David Z Mar 18 '12 at 19:47
@DavidZaslavsky well, chemistry is just physics done by people who don't mind getting their hands dirty and doing crude approximations, isn’t it? (so the chemist said) – F'x Mar 18 '12 at 20:40
Can you please specify, if you are clear about it, what field interest you the most: – DaniH Mar 19 '12 at 6:29
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I'll take a stab at this, as I did a little chemistry as a grad student (and had a terrible time).

The best thing is to take a chemistry course which is as far removed from physics as possible, with emphasis on large molecules, not small ones. The small molecule chemistry is mostly a rehash of stuff you learn in thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, and if you are very comfortable with the thermodyamic formalism it won't be orthogonal.

The organic chemistry course on the other hand introduce you to concepts which are very strange, like the COOH group and its charges, the PO4 group and its negativeness, the idea of electron transfer, the mechanism of breaking CC double bonds, and all that black magic that makes Chemistry so interesting. Also, this is what is used in medical school, since you should know enough that biomolecules are not mysterious in their chemical properties.

So I would recommend organic chemistry, or biochemistry, both of which are orthogonal to most physics curriculum standards. Generally, however, I have found you can read the book and get the same information faster. If you feel you can do that, you might want to take a straight introductory molecular biology course, with a strong lab component. The lab stuff you can't learn in a book.

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