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MASt and subsequent MPhil at Cambridge?

  1. Jan 15, 2012 #1
    I am a Cambridge perspective student and I am going to start a MASt in Physics if I fulfil the requirements of the conditional offer I have received.
    I am not English, I have studied outside UK thus far. My aim is a PhD, but in UK I would not be funded unless exceptional circumstances.

    According to you, how's this idea:
    getting a MASt and then a MPhil(provided I'll be admitted) in Cambridge to earn a coherent and complete postgraduate education, in order to pursue a PhD in every possible country of the World?

    This way, I would avoid the problem of not being funded for a possible PhD, because I think that after a 9 months MASt I could only hope to be admitted to a UK PhD. Instead, after another year and a consistent research experience at the Cavendish Laboratory(very renowned and of high quality I hope), I think I will maximize my chances of being admitted to a good funded PhD(Switzerland, America after GRE, Germany, UK with scholarship. Canada). I would have to self-fund only 2 years(MASt + MPhil), instead of 4+(MASt+PhD).

    The drawback is that I would start a PhD at the age of 25, but all people under the Bologna accord do it at least at the age of 24(I have lost a year for a variety of reasons, but in the meanwhile getting IELTS for confirming admissions to Cambridge).

    Obviously, I am hoping(so implying) of being able to attain good results, though I am not sure at all, but I am optimistic in order to plan.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 21, 2012 #2
    Any idea or experience?
  4. Feb 21, 2012 #3
    Note that I am yet to begin an undergraduate degree but here's what I think anyway.

    One thing at a time? You seem to want to do the MASt (Part III of the Mathematical Tripos or Physics?), so do it. When the time comes to apply for PhDs, apply for them in the countries you listed. Worry about the second master in case you don't get in at all!

    I also don't think going into debt is a good idea, but that's just me. And *I* would prefer to do a Master's elsewhere in Europe, for a fraction of the cost and then apply to the UK for a PhD if that's what I really wanted. I can't imagine how long it would take me to reimburse two years' worth of tuition fees. Not to mention that I may or may not get a funded position in the UK at the end of it. (your words, not mine)
  5. Feb 21, 2012 #4


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    I think it's a good decision to study part iii (I never did myself, but know people who did and it's a good degree to have). However, I am not sure why you intend to do an MPhil afterwards. If you want to do a PhD then you should just apply straight from part iii. An MPhil is a research degree which, really, in math/physics only normally gets awarded if a student attempts a PhD and doesn't make it to the end, for whatever reason.
  6. Feb 21, 2012 #5
    Thanks for the answers.
    Now I have offers for both PartIII of Mathematical Tripos and PartIII of Physics Tripos, and currently I feel more inclined to the Physics Tripos.

    Mepris, thanks for advice. Fortunately, thanks to a good scholarship in undegrad degree that I have saved(in my country undergraduate education is almost gratis), I won't need to go into debts for funding 2 years. Moreover, a master in Switzerland(to which I have also been admitted) has roughly the same overall cost, even though tuition fees are almost zero, because of life expenses in their cities :frown:
    However, the second master(MPhil) is aimed at going elsewhere in Europe, because in Germany, Switerland and other advanced countries the pre-PhD education lasts for 5 years(Bologna Accord). I prefer to do the Master(s) in Cambridge, as I have already been admitted. I do not know what can happen with PhD applications, so I want to seize the opportunity(also to improve my English greatly). However, thanks for sharing your idea, and any further comment or suggestion is welcome.

    Cristo, so after the PartIII I should be okay for a PhD? isn't a MPhil after the MASt a better preparation, with an additional year of coursework/research? I am interested in having better preparation and better chances of being admitted to a top research group.
    Cambridge offers MPhil as a stand-alone one-year course.
    I thought I would have clearer ideas about what kind of PhD pursue, and also a closest contact with research environment. However, I am interested in your opinion as you seem really well-informed( as a mentor :smile: )
    What PartIII do you say it's good? Physics or Maths? On forums, I only read about PartIII maths, no one speaking about PartIII Physics.

    Thanks again.
  7. Feb 22, 2012 #6


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    Yes, I know several people who have done part iii and then started in phd programmes. In fact, part iii is more preparation than a lot of people with 4-year undergrad masters who start phd's have.

    It might be that it is better preparation, so don't take my word as definitive, it's just I've never heard of anyone do an MPhil before a PhD in physics/maths.

    That might be true, but then your taught masters should do a similar thing (you have to do a short research essay during part iii).

    The maths one is the programme that I've heard very good things about. It depends what you want to go and do your PhD on, though. If you want to do maths or theoretical physics, I would do part iii maths.
  8. Feb 22, 2012 #7
    Had I been English, I'd have not thought about an additional year, but as it's very tough for me to get a funded PhD, I am trying to think up a way to avoid an almost impossibile self-funding for a PhD. An additional year of original research makes me eligible also for Bologna-accord PhDs(student who enters this kind of PhDs are exptected to hold a Master degree involving original research, but probably you already know it).
    That's why my idea sounds strange, probably :smile:

    So thanks again for your detailed opinion, I will take it into account. I will try to get in touch with Cambridge professors as soon as I arrive there, 'cos I should have a supervisor and a College mentor.

    At the moment I am more inclined to PartIII Physics because of Condensed Matter, Atomic and similar, I have to search for information about it.

    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
  9. Feb 22, 2012 #8


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    Are you from the EU, or from outside the EU? Due to EU law, being English doesn't really matter anymore: if you are from the EU you are eligible for a 'fees only' scholarship from the funding councils, and if you are EU and have lived in the UK for 3 years (including education) you are eligible for the full studentship. This then means you're in the same boat as UK students (although will not get a maintenance grant). Some universities also have international funding though, as you seem to realise, these are pretty competitive.

    That's definitely a good idea: ask as many people for advice as you can, and especially supervisors etc//

    That sounds like a sensible idea.
  10. Feb 22, 2012 #9
    I was already aware of it, but many thanks for the furhter time spent to help me. For funded PhD, I meant also maintenance grants, in order to become independent from my family at 25-24 yrs old to 28-29(at least I wanna try to do it, and I think I have to try).

    As you asked me, I am from EU, Italy, and I have lived in Italy since my birth, done all my studies in Italy, so I would be eligible for 'fees only' scholarhips.
    Yes, maintenance grant regardless of nationality ARE REALLY competitive: Cambridge, Oxford and other major universities have them, but I need a plan B to fall back on.

    Now I just need to get to Cambridge and plan from then on!
  11. Feb 22, 2012 #10
    Are you sure about this? The British research councils are funded by British taxes. Are you really saying it's easy for any EU member to get hold of that money? For instance, Edinburgh Uni. states quite bluntly that: "Most ... places will be funded by the STFC and EPSRC Research Councils and are hence restricted to UK students."
  12. Feb 22, 2012 #11


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    Well, it seems like you've done your research! Good luck at Cambridge!

    Yup, I'm positive. EU law prevents a country from treating her citizens differently to citizens of other member states. Thus, all EU applicants are eligible for fees only support, and full support if residing in the UK for 3 years previous. The STFC studentship website spells this out (im on my phone so can't get the link)
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