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Programs Durham PhD vs CASM

  1. Apr 15, 2009 #1
    I would like to ask for your opinion.
    I am between 2 offers. One is a PhD at Durham and the other one is Cambridge's CASM.
    In Durham I can start right away with my research. It would take 3 years (at least in theory). And I got a fellowship which seems to be very prestigious and can be considered as an award (well, this is what they say, but honestly I don't know). However, I would still need to spend some time gathering knowledge in certain areas.
    On the other hand, Cambridge has 1 (or 2) lectures that really interest me, and could help me in future research. The reputation of the university and the department are worldwide known. However, there is no secured PhD place after the CASM (at least not in Cambridge), and overall (including the PhD) this would take more time than in Durham.
    I appreciate your comments.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 15, 2009 #2


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    PartIII maths is pretty well known and respected, it gives you an out if you don't want to continue for a PhD - if you do it gives you a very solid grounding.
    You might end up finishing quicker because of stuff you learnt in part III - PhD's aren't guaranteed to only take 3years(!)

    One problem with part III was that you couldn't get funding for it since it wasn't an ugrad degree and wasn't a PhD or a masters (the excellent one year CS course died because of this) - my info might be out of date though.
  4. Apr 15, 2009 #3
    I would take the PhD at Durham, as long as the subject is of real interest to you and the supervisor has a good reputation for being helpful and getting his students past the winning post. Supervisors can vary greatly, from Dennis Sciama to ... well I won't mention names, I'm sure you can think of some in the 'not good' category. Email his current research students and see if they are happy bunnies.

    I made the mistake of taking an Astronomy MSc at Sussex and had to suffer from taking some really naff courses, one of which I almost failed through sheer lack of interest. I should have just gone on to do a PhD immediately.

    Durham, in general, has a great rep. For instance, John Barrow did his BSc there:

  5. Apr 15, 2009 #4


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    If you know the exact area you want to work in and have a place - go for it and do the PhD directly. Good luck

    The countryside around Durham is a lot nicer as well
  6. Apr 19, 2009 #5
    I think part III is over-rated.
    Phd places are really hard to get, especially with a fellowship. Just go for Durham if its an interesting research.
  7. Apr 19, 2009 #6
    But I still believe none of mathematicians in Stanford would complain about ratings over part III
  8. Apr 21, 2009 #7
    I appreciate all your comments!

    I am inclined towards the PhD at Durham now. Yes, the topic is interesting, and the research group likes my own ideas, which I certainly like to explore. As I have seen, Durham has also a good reputation. Moreover, the supervisors - who I recently met- are quite enthusiastic and full of energy, so this is certainly positive.

    There is this lecture at Cambridge that still interests me a lot, though. Perhaps I could speak with both depts. and just attend this single lecture for 4 months (or the time it takes) without any credit. Honestly, I guess it would not be possible, but maybe it is worth to try, no? ... What do you think?

    Thanks again.
  9. Apr 22, 2009 #8
    Hi sploosh,
    I'm presently an undergrad at durham! Any general questions about the place etc. I'd be happy to answer on here :smile:
    My own thinking about this subject, as someone who will be applying for PhDs next year: If I were in your position I'd take the PhD. Have a read of the section "particular points for Part III students" here, or look at the related threads below- as prestigious as the CASM is, I get the distinct impression that taking it in order to improve your position next year can backfire.
    As an aside, I'd point out that if you're in the centre for particle theory there are examined graduate lecture courses: http://www.cpt.dur.ac.uk/GraduateStudies/Lectures/ [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
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