When you think of ‘science’, what do you think of? Chemicals in test tubes? A telescope pointed to the stars? Equations on a chalkboard? A famous scientist like Marie Curie or Albert Einstein?
It might be some of these images, or many others that come to mind. Science is a vast, multi-faceted subject that sets out to find out about everything that exists in our universe, from distant galaxies and ocean depths, to microscopic organisms and physical forces.
Over hundreds of years of scientific study, the body of knowledge and different fields of study have evolved into branches of science — specialisms around different aspects of the universe.
Types of Science
Four branches of science
At high school, there are four branches of science that you might study.
PhysicsPhysics is one of the physical sciences that looks at materials and forces that aren’t organic or alive. Physics helps you understand motion, energy, electricity and magnetism, and laws that govern the physical universe.
Everything in the natural world begins with a chemical reaction. Chemistry helps you understand how these reactions work, by studying chemical substances, how they change, and the laws that describe these changes.
Biology is a broad natural science that studies living things. Reflecting the sheer complexity of life, biology has many different fields, from biochemistry and its study of atoms and molecules, to ecology and its study of the planet’s millions of organisms.
Geography is an earth science that studies all the different environments, habitats and features of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, and how each of these interact.
Why study science?
When you study science, you study the world. So if you want to keep learning about life and discovering new things, a career in science may be for you.
Science looks at how things work today, how they worked in the past, and how they might work in the future. Science constantly refines and expands our knowledge of the world, always raising new questions for future study.
Within the sciences you can study at high school (physics, chemistry, biology and geography), there are many sub-branches of science to explore. This means that science can satisfy lots of different interests you might have, as well as developing a powerful set of skills.
What are science skills and how are they useful?
In every branch of science you study, there are key skills you’ll learn, develop and be able to transfer across many different types of work.
The first and most important skill in science is observation. By using different senses to accurately describe aspects of the world, this skill helps you to identify details, build evidence and explain how things work.
Classification is being able to separate and sort objects based on what you’ve observed. It’s a skill that builds your vocabulary and expands different ways to understand and explain the world.
Another key skill across all science is measurement, which is vital to how you collect, compare, and understand data — and share your findings with others.
Science teaches you how to predict and explain things happening in the world by making links between what you observe and what we already know.
To do successful science, it’s important to be able to share your results and explanations. Science studies can help you to develop clear and effective ways to communicate with different people.
You might not have thought of science as creative, but many scientific breakthroughs and discoveries are a result of creative or playful thinking — helping you to explore different and unusual approaches to solving problems.
What careers can you explore through science?
If you want to work in a job that’s varied and rewarding, and that keeps you challenged, a career in science is an excellent option. Jobs in science exist across an enormous number of different fields — there are just too many to count (or list here).
If you care about animal healthcare and wellbeing, you can go on to study veterinary science, a branch of medicine that includes the diagnosis and treatment of injuries and diseases in animals.
Within each of these areas of science, there’s a huge array of jobs you can consider, from forensic chemistry and wildlife biology to volcanology and oceanography, and much more. With science, the world really is yours.