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Programs Msc and then PhD or straight to Phd?

  1. Jun 25, 2009 #1
    Hi everyone!

    I'm currently toying around with the idea of undertaking a 1yr Msc in Physics as a means to provide a more formal grounding in some of the more theoretical areas of physics. Currently finishing my 3rd year of a 4yr MPhys Astrophysics undergraduate degree but I'm not particularly confident that I will have covered some of the more advanced subjects in as much depth as I may have liked.

    My 4th year will provide an introduction to the following topics:

    - General Relativity (at the level of https://www.amazon.com/Gravity-Intr...sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1245937232&sr=8-1")
    - Fields / Particle Physics (https://www.amazon.com/Quarks-Lepto...sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1245937255&sr=1-1" book)
    - Advanced Quantum Mechanics (at level of https://www.amazon.com/Quantum-Mech...sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1245937320&sr=1-1")

    - Additionally there will be my astro electives and my half-year project (60 credit).

    Whilst this seems reasonable enough it really doesn't feel like much of a grounding in some of the areas before going straight on to a PhD. An example may be the http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/theoreticalphysics/postgraduatestudy/mastersdegree" whose courses seem to carry on more or less where my degree finishes. How much can be learnt/taught in the first year or so of a typical PhD program and what is expected to already known? Not sure on that one.

    I'm considering a PhD in Cosmology or related (theoretical) and trying to weigh up if it's worth the extra year (and loans to cover living costs etc for the year) in order to gain more exposure to advanced GR/QFT/Cosmology topics before making an application to a top ten insitution in the UK? Currently 1st class honours but sometimes wonder how this translates to the levels of education at other universities (well courses seem more or less on par in some areas but noticeable difference between the theoretical physics degrees and a more typical physics degree).

    Basically, do you think it's worth the cost/time required for an additional year's learning or is it something that can (and should?) be picked up as part of a 3 yr PhD program? It's tough to try to grasp just how competative I could be with the 4yr MPhys without a stronger theoretical bias.

    [Also makes me wonder if the 4+3 yrs system in the UK really prepares our graduates as thoroughly as a 3+2+3 system or even the US system.]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 25, 2009 #2


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    PhD funding the UK seems to be tending towards 3.5-4 years, to allow students to take some courses in their first semester. If I were you, I'd apply with your MPhys; you seem to have a reasonable background of key courses. Try and do your project on something theoretical.

    The US system is more like 4+2+(at least)3.
  4. Jun 25, 2009 #3
    Hey, thanks for the reply.

    Current project will probably involve some statistical analysis but with a decent scope for theoretical work which will also hopefully provide a decent introduction to the field in general.

    As for the PhD schemes in general, I think that's something I'll have to look into in more detail. Will be doing this over the summer as I'll have to apply come November/December/January. Seems like a tough choice trying to figure out where I want to go and at what level I can go for, but I have a pretty good idea on the areas I'm interested in so I will check out specific research groups in much more detail. Thanks!
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2009
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