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Schools Good british university?

  1. Jun 24, 2010 #1
    hey guys, im applying for uni in a few months, anyone recommend some uk unis?

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 24, 2010 #2
    What's the degree and subject? Some unis are better than others depending on the course (but for undergrad there's not a huge difference).
  4. Jun 24, 2010 #3
  5. Jun 24, 2010 #4
    Oxbridge is undoubtedly good, but don't let anyone tell you that it's the be all and end all of British universities. I did my BA/MA and PhD in physics at Cambridge and while it is a wonderful place to be, there are a dozen or more universities in the UK that I would happily have studied at.

    As said already, don't worry too much about where you go for your undergrad work. What really counts is the type of mark you get at the end and where you go to do graduate work.
  6. Jun 25, 2010 #5
    A 'good university' is something that is a lot more personal that you probably realise at the moment. You need to be living in the right place, have the right set up and have the right motivating factors: all for you. These key factors will vary from place to place - a given university might have an outstanding record in teaching but when you go for a visit, you feel rigidly uncomfortable in the atmosphere. It happens - which is why you need to go and see universities for yourself.

    If you're completely stuck for ideas, then looking at university league tables is a starting point - but just keep in mind that these are simply a guide. There is much to be gained from visiting the university and speaking to current students or lecturers at open days.

    The Times and the Guardian run university tables where they rank courses based on a number of factors:


  7. Jun 25, 2010 #6
    I'd definitely echo what everyone else has said - there's a lot of good universities in the UK for physics, each with a very different feel. My one piece of advice is definitely visit every university you apply to, if possible. I found it not only interesting (I don't come from a family background of Universities), but it instantly became clear to me where I would be comfortable learning.

    You'll learn a lot of the same stuff where ever you go, at undergraduate it's definitely a very personal choice. If you are applying for a MPhys degree which involves a one or two year research project, I would keep in mind what you think your interests might be (obviously you don't exactly know) - if you have some interest in theory, make sure there are some theorists you could work for etc. It won't matter too much the area, any experience is good experience at undergraduate. I would also attempt to find out how much opportunity there is for "Research Experience" outside of Uni time - e.g. in the summer. I found my experiences in this really useful, both in experimental and theoretical projects.
  8. Jun 25, 2010 #7
    Indeed. And I would personally trust the Times league table over the Guardian one (which has Royal Holloway as the second best university in the country for physics :rofl:). But as has been said many, many times (and by fasterthanjoao above), they are just a guide.
    This is probably the best approach. I was going to go to Manchester Uni to do an MSc, as it has a great astrophysics department (even though the uni is ranked ~30th in league tables!) However, after visiting I realised that I couldn't spend a year in Manchester - the area was just not right for me.

    So, decide on what your main interests are, look for unis that offer what you want, and then visit them. (And since you want suggestions, some unis with good physics departments that aren't necessarily near the top of league tables are Birmingham, Leicester, Manchester, Southampton, Bristol, Durham and Sheffield. There will be more however! :smile:)
  9. Jun 25, 2010 #8
    thanks all
  10. Jun 26, 2010 #9
    I'm pretty shocked that nobody has suggested Imperial College London, which is one of the best universities in the UK for physics. Last year it was ranked 5th in the world league tables on par with Oxford. It has been known as the UK's version of MIT.
  11. Jun 26, 2010 #10
    Yes, I agree, Imperial has a very renowned physics department, I personally think that Cambridge and Imperial are 2 of the best places in the UK for physics. Also if you're interested in theoretical physics Imperial is a world class institution of the highest par.

    Disclaimer: IMO, as far as I've read on the internet, and I may be biased because my dad went to imperial for his PhD (but in engineering, though he recalls that sitting in Abdulsalam's lectures was a quite amazing experience.)
  12. Jun 26, 2010 #11
    Just to reiterate the point once more: It doesn't matter where you go for your undergrad degree. It really, really doesn't. Imperial, Cambridge, Oxford, et al are all very good universities, but you'll receive an equivalent standard of education for a Bachelor's degree at dozen(s) of other universities in the UK. I dare say there are actually universities outside the "famous" ones at which you'll get an even better standard of education, with Southampton and Durham being two of the more obvious examples that spring to mind.

    Given the broadly excellent level of third-level physics courses here, by far the most important things are the results you obtain and where you go to do graduate study, with the latter being of significance only to those who actually want to do graduate work after their degree.
  13. Aug 3, 2010 #12
    Hi all,
    If you are looking to be on the top of the world, I would highly suggest to go to United States for simple reason, they have much more money.
    The UK traditionally have had very good (but old fashion) physics department, I am my self at Imperial College in the theoretical department. I can tell you that yes, we reputationally were very good but the current climate does not look very good for the future, especially under "austerity plan" or something from Mr Cameron, in which long-shot bluesky research like theoretical physics which answers more philosophical questions than one of economical nature tend to be regarded on the lower priority. We can get decent education here at undergraduate level because undergraduate education does not require as much money being spent on research programs etc. However, at postgraduate level, the reality really kicks in, research programs do require real and lots of money in which under the current and foreseable economic situation it proves to be less than enough here in the UK.
    I would suggest to go somewhere within United States, does not need to be Harvard/MIT but top 20 instituitions in Physics would be on par in terms of research funding with the best here. If you do undergraduate degree in US, it will be a lot easier for you to continue further at Phd level there (same apply for UK)
  14. Aug 3, 2010 #13


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    You don't even say where you are from, whether you are in UK, Europe, or from America or one of the other colonies.:biggrin:

    I agree with other posters and put it this way: for the top twenty, let's say, unis, almost no student is good enough as to be able to get the full benefit of everything there is on offer. Therefore instead of agonising about which is 'the best' go for the place where you think you will fit best or enjoy best - atmosphere which will help you become most productive as well as enjoy.

    Try visit if you can. There are actually books about what they all are like. One produced by the National Union of Students. Others I have seen in Uni bookshops, look at Amazon. And also the newspapers that have been mentioned.

    Anyway for the top places it is not just about whether you choose them but whether they choose you! If you are from outside the EU you pay heavy fees and maybe they are less choosy. :biggrin:

    Only if you have a very special strong interest like say space physics or medical physics then one place is more relevant than another (although youthful interests often change as the reality of world and self etc. are found out).

    My other prejudice would be avoid London. Life is more expensive there and student life and community suffer a sort of dilution from being in the big city and 'you can alswys go there later' and are quite likely to.
  15. Aug 3, 2010 #14
    It depends on what you want to study, but Cambridge, Oxford, LSE, UCL and Imperial are usually seen as the best. St Andrews, Durham, York, Manchester and Edinburgh are also internationally respected.

    By the way, it's pretty damn hard to get into Oxbridge. My friend got 14 A's in O'levels and 5 A's is A'levels, but still got rejected by Cambridge.

    Also, avoid London, it's expensive.

    I, personally, chose York. It's less expensive as compared to other universities, and is one of the best universities for Computer Science program.

    U.S universities, for an international student, are too expensive.
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