Annual survey of first year physics students

1 May 2014

The annual survey of first year physics students in Scotland suggests that career prospects and a desire to understand the Universe both play an important role in guiding students’ choice to study physics.

The Institute of Physics (IOP) in Scotland undertakes a yearly survey of first year physics students in universities across Scotland to identify important contributing factors to students’ choice.

The 100 students surveyed this year reflect the wide range of motivations for further study in physics but with 92% citing career prospects as a good reason to study physics, students appear to have life after university in mind.

The survey assessed the influence of events such as university open days, workshops and lectures outside school, and work experience placements, while also querying more personal factors, such as the students’ ability in maths and their excitement from the quest to answer fundamental questions.

Ability in maths, a desire to understand how the world works and an interest in fundamental questions were deemed to be the biggest influences in choosing to study physics.

Alison McLure, the IOP’s National Officer in Scotland, says, “It’s useful to undertake this survey each year to understand what leads to increases or decreases in participation of physics at universities.  

“Yet again, the results have shown that a mix of student career ambition – with an understanding that a physics degree serves a CV well for a wide range of careers – and a desire to understand answers to the most fundamental questions often mix well to drive participation in physics.”

The full survey results can be found here:

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