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Is Oxford worth it?

  1. Dec 19, 2008 #1
    hello,
    I'm relatively new here, so I apologise if this is in the wrong section!
    Recently I applied to university for physics. Among the unis I applied to are Oxford (physics) and Imperial (theoretical physics).

    My first choice was Oxford. Due to the large numbers of people that apply there, they make applicants sit what they call the physics aptitude test. I prepared well for this test, in terms of the material. Before the test, I was happy that I could do the questions they ask (sample: http://www.physics.ox.ac.uk/admissions/combined-sample.pdf), and decided I was ready. However, I hadn't for some reason (probably being too complacent) practiced a full exam in one go, and the timing required. As a result, I totally screwed up the exam, and achieved only 45%. They wanted to invite only people with at least 52%.

    My question is, do you think it's worth waiting until next year to apply to Oxford again?

    Assuming I could I get in (I know it's not certain at all, but just to simplify things) next time, would the Oxford course be any better than the imperial course? I know it's better in terms of reputation, but is it better in terms of the quality and level of the course?

    Bearing in mind I want to be a theoretical physicist.

    Imperial (theo. physics course) do less experiments than Oxford .

    I've tried asking people at college, but only my physics teacher has knowledge on physics courses. So I thought it might be useful posting here too, to get more than one opinion.

    Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 19, 2008 #2
    Imperial still has a good reputation I believe, third best in Britain according to The Times.

    I was talking to my chemistry teacher yesterday, and he was telling me that Oxbridge isn't all what it's cracked up to be, although i'd still love to go there..

    I'm going to apply for Cambridge, Imperial, Lancaster, Durham, and Leeds.
     
  4. Dec 19, 2008 #3

    mgb_phys

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    It depends on your future plans.
    UK degree programs are carefully audited and are very similair level. I wouldn't say there is any difference between the quality of the course or graduates from IC/UCL/Oxford/Cambridge/Durham (sorry no experience of the orthers)

    Ironically if you are planning an academic career in physics it matters least - where you do your PhD (specifically the group) matters most.
    If you are planning to do a degree and then head to the City then Oxford will help.

    You should consider where you would like to live.
    Imperial / UCL mean you have a capital city on your doorstep but you are likely to have a long commute from a crappy place to live.
    Oxford/Cambridge are more likely to give you accomodation but have very little to do outside the university.
    Cambridge has a unique science course that is wider than most but involves a high workload.
     
  5. Dec 19, 2008 #4
    Where did you go?
     
  6. Dec 19, 2008 #5

    mgb_phys

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    Undergrad UCL - really liked living in London, at the time UCL had very good accomodation options.
    I did physics+astronomy which IC didn't offer and UCL also means you do meet non-scientists occasionally .

    PhD Cambridge. Have taught some labs for ugrad NatSci. Not sure I would have liked it. The short terms and high course load (basically you do a physics + chemistry degree first year) means that you are constantly in cram mode with no time for anything else.

    Another point is that while fees for all uni are the same, Oxbridge can actually be cheaper because of grants, cheap rents and handouts from colleges.
     
  7. Dec 19, 2008 #6
    How did you manage financially living in London, which is extremely expensive? I'd never even thought about UCL before, leaning more toward IC and Warwick.
     
  8. Dec 19, 2008 #7

    mgb_phys

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    London isn't any more expensive than a lot of SE England. The rent is about the same, travel costs are higher (and takes more time)

    When I went there ( quite a few years ago ) UCL offered accomodation to all first year UG.
    London also has more opportunities to get jobs (or did then!) - I got a vacation job in a supermarket warehouse which paid enough to cover living costs.
     
  9. Dec 19, 2008 #8
    Hmmm interesting.

    I'm from a working-class family in leeds, so i'm pretty sure i'd get some financial aid to help out with living costs.

    I currently work in ASDA now so i'd even have work experience for that ;)

    What other Uni's did you apply to?
     
  10. Dec 19, 2008 #9
    Hmmm interesting.

    I'm from a working-class family in leeds, so i'm pretty sure i'd get some financial aid to help out with living costs.

    I currently work in ASDA now so i'd even have work experience for that ;)

    What other Uni's did you apply to?
     
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