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Physics Graduating with 2:2 in Physics. What now?(UK)

  1. Jun 19, 2009 #1


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    OK as the title says, I've found out I've achieved a 2:2, and am now considering my options. Firstly let me say my eventual plan is to work in industry rather than academia.

    With that in mind, should I jump straight into the world of world and work my way up? Or would I be better off getting an Masters degree in either Physics (my preference) or some engineering field which would hopefully make up for my bad performance in my first degree and perhaps broaden my options jobwise?

    Also anyone know of any good taught Master's programmes I could get into with the degree class I have achieved?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 28, 2009 #2


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    So, no one has any idea on how to make up for poor performance at undergraduate level?

    1 option I was considering is the Pg. Dip. in Physics at UCL. Assuming satisfactory performance in the exams one can complete a project in the summer and obtain an M.Sc. in Physics in the same year. Any thoughts if this would be a good idea or not?
  4. Jun 28, 2009 #3
    If I was in your shoes I would try for a job. Maybe join the Navy?
  5. Jun 28, 2009 #4


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    Navy not really for me. So, short of doing another undergraduate degree there's nothing I can do?
  6. Jun 28, 2009 #5


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    I really have no idea what 2:2 means, but for argument's sake I suppose it means you weren't all that successful mark-wise with your undergraduate work. I don't think this necessarily relegates you to another undergraduate degree. For one, if you haven't been too successful this time around, what's going to make the difference if you enroll in something different? You have your education, the trick now is figuring out what to do with it.

    When you say your plan is to work "in industry," that's a pretty vague plan. Are there any particular fields you're interested in? Have you picked up any particular skills during your education? Worked part time? Volunteered? If you have a more specific goal, people can probably help you a little more with achieving it.

    Pursuing graduate school is one option (although it may require some upgrading). But grad school is generally MORE work than undergrad. If you struggled through undergrad, why will graduate school be any different?
  7. Jun 28, 2009 #6


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    I too was uncertain of what 2:2 meant. Some kind of ratio of science classes to arts? 2.2 on the 4 point scale? Some British / European notation?

    In any case, if you didn't do so hot mark wise, I heard this joke a very long time ago...
  8. Jun 28, 2009 #7


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    lol, like the joke Matlab dude. And the grading system is one used in UK.

    Grade Average
    1 70%+
    2:1 60-70%
    2:2 50-60%
    3 40-50%
    No Honours <40%

    Thing is, in UK many a job asks for a 2:1 minimum. So my question essentially was, would adding as Master's to that make them consider me, or whether my application would always be rejected irrespective of Masters.

    One would assume Master's level courses would carry some weight, but many of them use online applications, and as far as I understand use a filter to reject applicants at that stage who don't achieve a 2:1. So I was wondering if there'd be any point in doing a master's or not.

    I was hoping someone with experience of working in the UK might be able to help. I understand the US system which most people on these boards seem to be used to is a little different.
  9. Jun 29, 2009 #8
    Don't worry once you get your foot in the door it's more a case of who you know not what you know anyway.

    Try Qinetiq, DSTL, EADS, Airbus, Astrium, MBDA, BAE Systems......for a physics degree maybe. Get on their graduate scheme.
  10. Jun 29, 2009 #9


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    Another problem I have is that the application deadlines have passed for most places. I was originally on the four years undergraduate masters, and failed to get onto the fourth year. So, I'm relegated to applying for next years batch. So a Master's was one way to strengthen my case for next years round of applications.

    So Freddy are you from the UK? I'd just like to know whether getting a Masters would make no difference? Can you give me a yes/no answer on whether it would make any difference were I to get a Master's degree. And also what's ur opinion on the M.Sc. Physics at UCL.
  11. Jun 29, 2009 #10


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    A Msc (traditionally) qualifies you for PhD funding if you got a 2:2
    Most industries don't care what your degree class is, the only reason for putting 2:1 on the advert is so that they only have to deal with 50 applicants instead of a 100 This is more of a problem for management graduate trainee applications than people who actually have to know something - a 2:2 is fine for being a physicist ;-)
    Apply anyway and have a good excuse, at the moment you are probably stuffed if you got a first anyway!

    Note for foreigners, UK Honours degrees are classified by (approximately) class ranking.
    It's like the MAGNA CUM LAUDE thing but a lot easier to spell.

    1st class = top 5% or so
    Upper 2nd (ie 2:1) in the top half of the class
    Lower Second ( 2:2) in the lower half
    Third class - just about scrapped through
    Pass - either didn't turn up for any exams, drank continually for 3 years or a member of the royal family.
  12. Jun 30, 2009 #11
    Yes mate I'm in the UK.

    Yes - a Masters will be good for your career in the long run if you can afford the extra year at University and you will start on a slightly higher salary when you get a relevant job.
  13. Jun 30, 2009 #12
    You can find masters with studentships at www.jobs.ac.uk. Just be willing to be flexible! Note that if studentships are being offered for MScs it means that the research area is almost bound to be good for finding jobs. That's why they have (had?) a lot of funded MSc conversion courses to computer science - which might be worth considering.
  14. Jul 1, 2009 #13


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    Thanks for the advice guys. And a very useful site mal4mac, wish I had come across it earlier.

    Anyway I've decided to apply to a few jobs requiring 2:2 on the off chance I might get one. More likely options seems to be that I'll go on to do an MSc and apply for graduate placements next year. Without funding, I'm stuck to MScs in my home city, so I can travel from home. Fortunately London has a few good universities, and I've come across three interesting MSc, so I'm going to apply to them firstly.

    With the MScs I'm looking for one that leaves me with the broadest possible options at the end. This includes possibilty of a PhD. So I was wondering if anyone has an opinion on my three choices.

    MSc Physics

    Broadest of three. So should leave me with widest possible options for PhD.
    Too general?
    requires initial registration onto Pg. Dip. Risk I might not be allowed onto M.Sc. if exams not satisfactory

    MSc Space Technology and Satellite Communications

    MSc Nanotechnology.

    @ mgb_phys

    If I study either of the last two, would I be eligible for PhD funding in any area of physics? Or only in the ones related to my MSc?
  15. Jul 3, 2009 #14


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    I've interviewed quite a few graduates now for jobs in industry, and I'm much more concerned about which university they're from, how they work as a team member, and how they come across in an interview than I am about their degree class (as long as it's not a 3rd).

    All other things being equal, a guy with a 2:1 is (in my eyes) only 5% more attractive as an employee than a guy with a 2:2. A good presentation, a good project, or some interesting work experience is MUCH more important. (Someone with an MSc, unless it's really relevant, is only about 20% more attractive anyway).

    Oh, and you need to sort your attitude out. Applying for jobs "on the off-chance you might get one" is far too negative to show any actual enthusiasm for the position.
  16. Jul 4, 2009 #15
    It's not the grades you get, it's what you do with them. A 2.2 aint the end of the world.

    I got a 2.2 as well back in '99 from Leicester in physics.

    After that I got the first and only job I applied for at DERA (NoW QinetiQ). Awesome job, great exp, pay is ok. Lots of travel + professional development.

    I worked there for 3 years then applied for a PhD in the US. Last year I completed my PhD in theoretical physics. I now run my own company and am tres happy.

    Dont let that 2.2 define you because if you do you've already lost.

    Best tips I can give you: BLAST the interviews. Be confident, friendly, modest. And if they ask what went wrong (as they did in my DERA interview) just be honest...tell them you don't test well. IMHO a lot of your success in life will be defined by your interactions with other people. It really is that simple.
  17. Jul 4, 2009 #16
    As someone involved in recruiting work, how valuable do you think a first class degree is compared to a 2:1?
  18. Jul 4, 2009 #17
    Leave modesty at the door at an interview I'd say. 'Big-up' yourself! Prepare an answer for every question they could throw at you, research the company and talk about what you know about them and what contracts they have recently won etc. (this really impresses them).
  19. Jul 5, 2009 #18
    I have also graduated with a 2:2 in Physics, from Glasgow University.

    Whilst disappointed I didn't get a 2:1, I am happy with bits of the year, and can see why I didn't quite make the 2:1 mark.

    I managed to get an A3 on my project (which is roughly 85%). I worked very hard at this, but neglected some of my course work, which ultimately meant I just fell short of a 2:1.
    Also, Glasgow is now considered the UK's second best physics department by The Times new rankings, and is consistently in the top 10.

    I feel with an excellent project, and coming from a very reputable uni/physics department has to stand me in good stead?

    I would love to work in industry, but feel the 2:1 benchmark is still thrown around.

    Would it be worthwhile doing a masters, or just going for it and aiming to get into industry?
  20. Jul 6, 2009 #19
    In the present industry circumstances apply for everything! But careful if you get more than one offer...

    I was offerred a job that required me to get (at least) a 2(ii). I was offered a masters that required me to get a 2(i). I got the 2(i) so went for the masters, half way through doing the masters I wish I'd taken the job! On reapplying for the same job they just ignored my letter. Had to get a worse job...

    I get the impression that much less effort is put into masters courses than undergraduate courses. As ug students are with staff for three years lecturers have to try harder, with MSc courses one year and they're gone, so you can give them any old tat...
  21. Jul 8, 2009 #20
    Hi, first of all congrats on your success, I had the same problem as you, except it happened at A level, rather than at undergrad. Did you do an undergrad in physics and then a doctoral in theoretical physics? how come you made that choice?

    I ask you because I am fascinated by the word of einstein and feynman but also want to get a job, but you seem to have done alrite.
  22. Jul 11, 2009 #21


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    Very, very little. I'd rather have a 2.1 grad who has a social life than an academically brilliant 1st grad.
  23. Jul 11, 2009 #22


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    You know, there exist people with first class degrees who have as much, if not more, of a social life than 2.1 graduates. No need to fuel stereotypes!
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