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Admissions European PhD with UK Mphys

  1. Oct 7, 2017 #1

    I am currently studying for an MPhys in the UK. In the UK this is considered essentially equivalent to an MSc and a BSc although the structure is a little different: the first 2 years are the exact same as a bachelors course, then my 3rd year I am currently spending in Denmark doing mostly masters courses. It is not usual to do a "bachelors project" but I do have the option to choose do that in Denmark. The fourth year is half a masters thesis and half courses.

    I intend to do a PhD in Europe (either Denmark or the Netherlands) but I am concerned about the fact I have only been studying for 3+1 years whereas most people in Europe do 3+2. I have emailed a few professors listing PhDs in both countries and they have just replied saying they "need an MSc". I'm not sure if they are not aware of the MPhys or they don't think it is good enough, but either way I am worried about being instantly disregarded at the application process.

    Does anyone have any experience with this, or any advice with how to increase the chance of being accepted?

    In the worst case scenario I could apply to do an additional European masters but I am also concerned that since I will have done the MPhys I won't be accepted into scholarship programs!

    Thank you,
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 7, 2017 #2


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    2017 Award

    Staff: Mentor

    Did you ask explicitly about MPhys?

    Do you know someone who knows soneone in DK/NL? I don’t know your field, but if it is reasonably connected that could help. Recommendations are more important than a year of courses.

    You still have to check the university websites (or ask via mail) for formal requirements - that is not the task of the professors.
  4. Oct 8, 2017 #3
    I did ask explicitly about MPhys, but I don't know whether they fully understood what the MPhys is (although that has the same consequences as if it is not equivalent to MSc).

    And I know people in one university in the Netherlands but I'm not sure if it is the field I want to go into and also it is not where I want to live, either way I will ask my tutor to ask them, hopefully it will give some insight
  5. Dec 4, 2017 #4
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
  6. Dec 20, 2017 #5
    Formally: I think, in general, the UK 3+1 years university education is considered equivalent to the continental 3+2 years, though of course you must check with individual institutions on their policies. This also corresponds well with the fact that after both, one can go into a 3 year PhD consisting of only research work.

    Practically: what really matters is what you know, of course. For experimental physics, an MPhys is probably sufficient especially if you've done substantial project work or internships. For theoretical physics, an MPhys typically does NOT get you to a "research-level" understanding, e.g. usually you would learn only up to the very basics of quantum field theory and would not be prepared to immediately begin research in particle theory or CMT, etc. In the UK this is usually remedied by taking courses in the first year of the PhD. I'm not sure how it works in Europe, but it may be that even for theory everything is learned in the 2 year masters program.

    There are, however, some 1 year masters programs in the UK that aim to deliver a comprehensive course in theoretical physics. The two well-known ones are the Part III of the math tripos in Cambridge and the MMathPhys in Oxford. I think there are MMathPhys programs in some other universities as well.

    The solution might only be to transfer to an MMathPhys-type program for the 4th year, or do significant amounts of self-studying.
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