Some background. DS1 just started 6th form. He got 7A* and 5A at GCSE and is doing Maths, FM, Physics, Chemistry and Biology for AS. He was always good at Maths and on G&T for it. Sadly despite my best efforts I never managed to get the school to extend him in Maths with the result that he has spent years being bored at it.
So he turned his attention to physics. Loves it and has read very widely ( as recommended by people on MN ). He wanted to study physics in some form and to try for Cambridge.
Since starting A levels he has found a renewed love for pure Maths, less so for applied Maths. He has been buzzing about Maths since he September, for the first time in his life he is being stretched and challenged and has a teacher who gallops along at his speed. He's also getting very good grades. He is nothing like as excited about physics, which may be down to the curriculum. I have said to him, and he agrees, that it seems to me that he ought to think about Maths as a degree. Any advice on some suitable reading or research for him would be very welcome? He was also wondering whether doing a Maths degree would rule out doing a post grad in Physics?
I have a bachelors and masters degree in physics and am deciding between a PhD in physics or maths (though I'm inclined towards the maths PhD since there are so few jobs for physics PhDs).
Though physics is full of maths, a pure maths background alone isn't sufficient preparation for postgraduate studies in physics. Your son will need to have taken some undergrad physics courses in order to be prepared for graduate-level physics.
Your son is still quite young, but does he know what he wants to do as an occupation? Professorships are very, very hard to come by in both the UK and the US (e.g., several hundred qualified applicants for every academic job opening). A maths or physics PhD allows one to work in finance, for example. Those with physics PhDs in the more applied areas can get jobs in engineering. And, of course, programming ("coding") is always an option for physics PhDs.
bruffin thanks. DS found out about the Maths challenge on Monday and had a go at it on Tuesday. He reckons he did enough for a Gold but not to get through to the next round. It's a pity he wasn't told about it before (it was mostly second years who did it) as he would have spent half term preparing for it. He's very competitive and plans to nail it next year .
I sent off for a load of University prospectuses and he's looking in detail at what different Maths and physics courses cover. He has no real idea what he wants to do.