Some find it much harder than other courses. Why?
I can think of a few reasons of why CMP can be more demanding than other courses.
It requires a working knowledge of basic thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, kinetic theory, electromagnetism, and quantum mechanics. Weak students do o.k. in some subjects but poorly in others. Weak students do not remember much from previous courses and struggle to apply what they do learn in new contexts. Hence, CMP really exposes some of these weaknesses.
Furthermore, one has to understand how to integrate all this knowledge.
There is an emphasis on
- orders of magnitude estimates
- making approximations
- relating theory and experiment
I welcome alternative thoughts.