Final University Choice UK : Manchester Or Nottingham

I think you should just go and visit the universities. Talk to the people who are already there, and look at what they're doing. Get a feel for the place and the people. Not only will this help you make a decision, but you'll also be more likely to enjoy your time at university if you like the place you're going.In summary, Sarah has narrowed her choice down to Manchester and Nottingham universities. She likes the idea of doing theoretical physics at Manchester, but is unsure about the research areas at Nottingham. She is also undecided about whether to change to maths in the next few weeks or months.
  • #1
Hi guys,

Well I now have a few weeks to make up my mind in which to put as my first choice (not sure if I have a second but even if I did it would be sort of irrelevant as all offers are AAA or AAB :D). I've basically numbered it down to Manchester and Nottingham, I had offers from both York and Bristol, but I didnt like york personally so couldn't spend 4 years there and the research areas at Bristol seem relatively niche, which is great if you like those areas, but not for me.

So I am looking to go down the theoretical physics root atm. My true love is Mathematics, I applied to do Maths with physics at both however because I want to have a practial appliaction to my maths. I really love geometry and and being able to use maths to analyse describe and manipulate geometry, which is why I think I want to do physics, because the real world is so readily describable geometrically. I would say I want to do things like GR and the concepts of QFT fascinate me, which are among a few areas of physics that I like, but the only thing I really know about is GR and in all fairness I am not informed enough yet to be making the decision of where I want to go with my career, but I do what to keep those options open :D. In terms of my Maths, well I kind of love everything about it, atm I am doing a lot of calculus and especially focus on diff equations as doing a lot of mechanics (just in case people get the wrong meaning there, that's topics like circular motion, harmonic motion kinematics etc) but then I am doing work on matrices in a while and you know, just so love it all.

Now it is a possibility that in a month or possibly a few weeks into my course where ever that is I may wish to change to Maths, which the universities have said is fine, so again I really want strong maths dept. too.

In my mind I think Manchester is defiantly my best option, great Maths and Physics departments, and such a wide range or research areas I know in my third and fourth years in in either Maths or Phy Ill be spoiled for choice, (to be honest that would make it harder :D) and so I know what ever I discover I want to do with my future I should have my options there. I haven't look as deep at Nottingham, but it seems to be slightly less 'stuff' available ie the research they due and thus final years modules available.

So any advise or help would be really appreciated guys, and thanks so much for taking the time to read my essay :D
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  • #2
Purely on Academics, I'd put Manchester first for Physics, although Nottingham has an excellent mathematics department. However, what do you think about the two universities? They're both quite different places.
  • #3
You've got the academic side nailed, Manchester is slightly better last time I checked in those subjects. Pulely on that basis Mancheser is the best option, also they merged with UMIST a few years back so have had quite a lot to spend on research.

Apart from that Manchester is a mega city. Better nightlife, better shops, better people. And you are marginally less likely to be shot than in Nottingham! Hooray.

I come from Manchester (can you tell) but studied in Sheffield, my bother is at Notts Trent and personally I really don't like the city. Although Nottingham does have a very nice campus from what I remember.

In all honesty though, you really should go and check out the cities (not just the uni) again before you decision. When you find the right University for you it'll hit you and somehow you;ll seem strangely at home. It was like that for me with Sheffield.
  • #4
Galadirith said:
Now it is a possibility that in a month or possibly a few weeks into my course where ever that is I may wish to change to Maths, which the universities have said is fine, so again I really want strong maths dept. too.

Nottingham's maths department is pretty good, and has the added advantage of having mathematical physicists in the maths department. Thus, you can learn relativity, quantum mechanics and quantum field theory as part of a maths degree, and also take courses in other pure&applied maths. In fact, if you're on the theoretical (or mathematical, I can't remember the difference) physics course, then you will take some courses taught by physicists, and the above modules taught by mathematicians.

Of course, I'm sure that Manchester has a similar thing, but then I haven't experience with Manchester university.

As for the cities, I've lived in both. Nottingham is a great student city and the campus, as mentioned by Chris, is beautiful. Manchester's obviously a lot larger, and has a lot more shopping etc.. and generally more things to do. However, the university is a city university and as such has a lot less green areas. Still, this is a matter of preference, and I don't think you can go wrong with either. Have you been to visit either of these universities? If you do, you should get more of an idea where you would prefer to study. In fact, as fickle as it sounds, I made up my decision of which university to go to by the fact that Nottingham's campus has a lake and huge grassy areas which looked beautiful.
  • #5
I actually think for the subjects you mentioned (String Theory, QG etc) Nottingham is better ( They have a strong QG group in the maths dept, something that Manchester isn't so strong on, since the HEP-th there is mostly focussed on phenomenology.
  • #6
Thanks so much guys for the replies, this really has given me quite a new perspective on things, and actually makes it harder :D. Nottingham really does look great for the Maths and I really like the fact the maths/phys is part of the maths dep. But something I should have said before also, I really am interested in nuclear physics, I would really like to go into fusion research in the future. It's sort of now the only experimental area of physics that I am interested in really.

I did have aspirations of particles physics a few years ago, but learning more about to me it gets less interesting, I see things like fusion and there is a real human benefit in that, and then I look at particle phys, and things like astro etc, and yes they are fascinating but they have less of an impact on everyone elses lives, I know some can i.e. by-product technology or we discover something that we could actually harness, but the true aim of those areas really are curiosity, trying to understand why things are rather than how we can use it(but do please excuse my naiveity if I am wrong :D).

Looking at the sylibus at Nottingham there doesn't seem to be that much nuclear physics stuff taught, in honesty is it even realistically possible to fully appreciate both areas, the theoretical, and the nuclear stuff, as I see it Nott=Math Man=Nuc or something like that. I am caught in a dilemma now i think just long hard thought is all that can resolve this, if there is any more advise any of you guys could give me I really would so much appreciate, and thank you soo much all already, you all really have helped me.

As a note also, I have visited both places, and yeh I do think nottingham is really nice, I do come from the contry so I suppose would be less of a culture shift :D, thanks guys, oh and pehaps also I should keep in mind, this is only my undergraduate degree and although it will shape what I can do in later education/research etc, it doesn't decided it :D
  • #7
Have you applied for Mathematical Physics at Notts? If so I'm a current student. All I can say is people saying that Manchester is rated higher for Physics is laughable. In the recent research ratings Nottingham came joint 2nd with Lancaster behind only Cambridge. The overall reputation of Nottingham is also higher, even though people are more likely to have heard of Manchester.

Secondly, if you want to be a good theoretical physicist, the more maths the better, and there is lots of good maths in the Nottingham course.

Thirdly, if you want to spend 3 years of your life at a lovely campus University with a great student community and an excellent social life then you can't possibly go wrong with Nottingham.

edit: forgot to say, nuclear physics at Nottingham is huge! The MRI machine was invented at Nottingham and the Physics of MRI machines is all "Nuclear Physics", it remains a very strong area at Nottingham even 30 years on.
  • #8
Barnflakes thanks so much for the reply, yeh I have applied for the Mathematical Physics course, although still undecided if I would switch to the straight maths in lite of the new info of the maths/phy department, and when I visited nottingham addmissions said that wouldn't be a problem as long as I got the grades :D. I was really considering york becuase again there they have the maths/phys as part of the maths department but on visiting it I didnt like the campus.

I think now I can basically make my decision, still have a think a bit more on it but that's for me to sort out in my own head. I really just want to say thanks soo much to everyone, everything said has been invaluable, and really appreciated it all.
  • #9
I spent two years at York as an undergrad in Physics first then Maths. I ended up dropping out as I hated the place so much. Boring campus, boring people, boring city. I rememer I got something like 10% in Analysis because I never went to a single lecture or looked at a single book.

In contrast I'm now coming to the end of my second year at Notts in Mathematical Physics, loved every single minute of it, both the course and the Uni, and got 89% in Analysis because I actually want to study here and stay here.

Again this is just me, but in my experience of the two Nottingham has been literally worlds apart in terms of enjoyment in both social life and academic life. If I had the choice between Manc, Notts and York, I would put York at the bottom by a long long way.
  • #10
You are so right about York, the missus is there at the moment.

York is full of duckgarbage and grey haired old ladies.
  • #11
The York campus actually looks like an industrial estate. Pity, because the city is so beautiful otherwise.

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