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Getting onto the Theoretical Physics PhD program at Imperial?

  1. Jan 17, 2014 #1

    I am in my third year of a 4 year integrated MPhys at the University of Liverpool, and I'm starting to think about applying to PhD places. Me and my girlfriend are intending to move to London when we graduate, so I'm planning on getting a job as a graduate software developer or some other techie type graduate role to enable me to settle more easily in the city.

    After that I plan on staying in London to work towards a PhD at one of the universities, my current intention is to apply to Imperials Theory group / QFT/Strings. So plot setting over, my question is what skills/qualifications did you offer up when applying to Imperial or any London Theory group?

    And what chances do you think I have of gaining a place given that I'm expecting an average of 75-85%; I am currently teaching myself further programming in JAVA, C++, Python, C, C#; and I've completed placements within a particle physics group?

    Obviously this is hard to answer since performance at interview is important, but on the face of it would I be in with a reasonable chance? Sorry for this extensive OP.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 19, 2014 #2
    Why this desire to get a job as a graduate software developer? Why do you think this will help you settle in? A nice comfy sofa would be better for settling in :) Do you plan to do QFT in your coffee break? If you want to do QFT, do QFT! Personal contacts really help; chat with the best QFT people at Liverpool to see if they can recommend any good projects for your final year, and when you are seen to be doing a *very* good job on the project ask where there might be good groups doing that kind of work, and if there are any chances of getting PhD funding. If they say "here" or "Hong Kong" then saying it *must* be London, because your girlfriend wants to swan around Oxford street, will not do your chances *any* good. If you don't impress anyone at Liverpool, perhaps any old software development work is a good idea, you can then go to London for sure, but forget QFT...
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2014
  4. Feb 15, 2015 #3
    How sexist...
  5. Feb 18, 2015 #4


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    First of all, I don't think Imperial actually accepts PhD students to specific group (I am not 100% sure, you better check). AFAIK they use an "US style" system with CDTs where there is a four year graduate program and the first of those years is essentially a masters. They have been doing this for quite a while, even before the new EPSRC supported systems of CDTs were introduced last year.
    Hence, you would probably not be applying to the theory group, you would apply to one of their CDTs.

    Secondly, you do realize that doing PhD (regardless of system) is already more than a full time job right? You can't work as a software developer AND do a physics PhD at the same time.
  6. Feb 18, 2015 #5
    Yeah, it is a full-time job, or should be. Don't see how you can do another job that uses the same 'muscle'. If anything you need to get a job where you can rest your intellect. Also, even then, if you use energy on other things you are going to waste it in your PhD. You will get less out of it if you put less energy in. It is all about what you make of it yourself.

    Also, I don't think said comment is sexist at all. It may be rude, it may be too assuming, but it has nothing to do with gender.

    The problem with a PhD life is that you need to be incredible mobile to go there where the right position for you opens. This may go on for 10+ years after your PhD. If your partner has a problem with that, male of female, and which would be understandable, you have a problem.
    Especially true in the problematic case where both have a PhD in the same field. They are going to be competing for the same job. So you need two nice positions to open at the same place, which is extremely rare, and often means one person has to give up their career for the sake of the relationship.

    Can't answer your actual question. In fact, what are the odds that someone here was in the exact same position?
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