1. May 23, 2015

spaghetti3451

Hi, I am a fourth year undergraduate student currently undertaking my thesis coursework. My basic physics knowledge level includes Classical Mechanics (Marion and Thornton), Electrodynamics (Griffiths), Quantum Mechanics (Griffiths), and Statistical Mechanics (Blundell).

Now, part of my thesis coursework is to read and understand the following paper: http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0511156.

However, I am finding it a bit hard-going as there are quantum-field-theoretic concepts in the paper which I am not used to.

I wonder if it's common in thesis coursework to work on material beyond the grasp of students.

2. May 23, 2015

Staff: Mentor

It should not involve understanding that paper if you never had a quantum field theory lecture.

3. May 23, 2015

ZapperZ

Staff Emeritus
Who is the instructor who is supervising you in your thesis coursework? Can't you ask him/her for help, especially when he/she is taking your tuition money?

Zz.

4. May 23, 2015

spaghetti3451

Well, actually, it's not that difficult, to be honest.

I understand most of the paper, and whatever I don't understand, I can always look up in textbooks. For instance, I had a bit of trouble understanding what the classical Euclidean action $S_{cl}[\phi] = \int d^{4}x (\frac{1}{2}(\partial_{\mu} \phi)^2 + U(\phi))$ meant, but Shankar's 'Principles of Quantum Mechanics' has chapters on Path Integral Formalism that discuss this concept, and so does Goldstein's 'Classical Mechanics.'

And, my supervisor is helpful too. Still, I was hoping for a general opinion on whether the projects and thesis coursework stretches beyond a student's knowledge base. I ask this because also in my first year at Imperial College London, I had to do a mini-project on Monte-Carlo simulation of the Ising Model. At that time, I had only a rudimentary knowledge of C++.

Last edited: May 23, 2015
5. May 23, 2015

ZapperZ

Staff Emeritus
The problem here in giving a "general opinion" is that such an opinion doesn't usually apply to a course like this. This is because your topic should have been tailor-made for you, and it should have been an outcome of a discussion between you and your supervisor. So it could be something that builds on your knowledge base, or if your supervisor thinks you can handle it, something more advanced. There's nothing uniform about this from student to student, even professor to professor, much less, school to school.

The level and content of this course is a matter between you and your supervisor. So it can be anything!

Zz.

6. May 23, 2015

spaghetti3451

Would you say that a student's performance in his thesis work and an excellent letter of recommendation from the thesis supervisor play a major role in securing admission to graduate school?