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From computer science to theoretical physics

  1. Aug 4, 2008 #1
    Hello all. Without further ado, my situation is this:

    • I graduated with a Master's in computer science from the University of Turku, Finland earlier this year. It's equivalent to a UK MSc.
    • I have a strong maths and physics background; I started as a physics major, but switched over to computer science after the first year. Additionally I did not skimp on discrete mathematics courses.
    • My grades are not the best. We don't use a GPA in Finland, but my understanding is it would be close to B or B+. I'm not sure if this is relevant, since I already have a post-graduate degree, whose grade is "eximia cum laude approbatur". This means it's in the top 80-95%.
    • My Master's thesis was part of a larger bioinformatics research in Turku, and I also collaborated in an article to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.
    • I'm currently working at a bioinformatics firm in London, UK.
    • I want to switch back to physics and graduate with a PhD in theoretical physics.

    I would be grateful for any tips how to be able to enter a physics PhD program with these credentials. I already know this is going to be a long road. I know I don't have enough physics content in my degree to be able to enter any physics PhD program straight away. Besides, my grades are not the best. So, the question becomes, what kind of studies or proof do I need first?

    My current plan is to take a couple of level 2 or 3 physics or mathematics courses in Open University, then apply to a taught (theoretical) physics Master's program (in, say, King's College). That way I could show that I still have the motivation to study, and that I'm serious about physics (since this time I have no excuse not to aim at the top, i.e. get top grades). After the Master's, I could apply to a PhD program. Open University and the Master's will need to be part-time studies, since I need to save money at the same time.

    I know entry requirements vary from institution to institution (and my next step is to contact different universities in London), but does this plan sound like it would work? Am I being too optimistic? Pessimistic? Thank you for any thoughts on the subject.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 4, 2008 #2


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  4. Aug 4, 2008 #3
    Well remember if it doesn't work out, You can always still get a job at a physics lab or such. In fact they look for more engineers and computer scientists then physicists.
  5. Aug 4, 2008 #4
    Yeah. I'm doing undergraduate research right now for my professor and so far I've just been doing programming for the past few months. Nothing on par with what you'd learn for a Comp. Sci. degree, but I'm not exactly putting much of my physics knowledge to use, either.
  6. Aug 5, 2008 #5
    Thanks for the advice, people. I tend to forget there is an ever-growing demand for scientific computing. However, and call me picky if you want, that's not my ultimate goal. I want to work with pen and paper, not monitor and keyboard, to put it in naive terms.
  7. Aug 5, 2008 #6
    If a pen and paper is what you want, become a mathematician
  8. Apr 24, 2009 #7
    Hello for all,

    I am like you, I love theoretical physics everytime I see a documentary about Albert Einstein or Richard Feynman and other great physicist I am excited to get a degree in theoretical physics.
    I have bachelor in medicine and studying Master in biomedical engineering.
    I wish to know what is your last news, did you find an open university.
    It is better if we find an open university giving Bachelor in theoretical physics rather than general physics.

    Thanks my friend
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