After getting several offers, I narrowed my choice to the following two programs: MSc in Particles, Strings and Cosmology in Centre For Particle Theory at Durham University: https://www.dur.ac.uk/cpt/graduate/lectures/ MSc in Quantum Fields and Fundamental Forces at Imperial College London: http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/theoreticalphysics/postgraduatestudy/mastersdegree The coursework is similar: both programs use many of the same textbooks. Imperial's courses seem slightly harder, which I like, Durham's slightly broader, which I like also. Durham allows a few more months for the research project. AWRU in Physics ranks Imperial at 15th position, Durham at 28th. They rank the same if we ignore Nobel prizes, which matches my impression when I compare citation counts from the last 10 years. Imperial has a few more big-names (defined as someone I have heard of before). Imperial ranks much higher in reputation-based rankings. In both programs, the courses are taken alongside PhD students, which is great. Probably higher PhD:MSc ratio in Durham. Imperial has higher entry requirement (1st) than Durham (2:1) but Durham has 50% acceptance ratio compared to Imperial's 80%. Not sure what that means for the caliber of students. To me, Durham is a much more attractive place to live. I shudder at the thought of passing through the urban jungle that London is. But this is secondary to long-term considerations. I believe I will be successful in either course. Difference in living and tuition costs makes Durham a much cheaper option. Again, this is a secondary consideration. I would be very grateful for pointing out anything I have missed that might differentiate the two programs. If my goal is admission to a decent hep-th PhD program in the USA, will Imperial's reputation give me a significant advantage over Durham?