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MSc in theoretical Physics

  1. Aug 7, 2008 #1
    Hello everybody!

    I have two questions:

    1. What universities should be considered when looking for a place to study for a MSc? The criteria are high level scholars, possibly working in theoretical high energy physics, and a possibility to get funding.

    2. I'm currently studying for a BSc (4 years full time, Physics) in the very best university of some unheard-of small country in the east of the EU. My grades are very good. However, I have no publications and haven't won any international physics competitions. What is the chance to join (let's say) University of Cambridge? Does it depend mostly on my BSc-thesis (it will be completed after the application deadline), some kind of interview or am I expecting too much?

    These things are not too hard to find out when applying for undergraduate studies, though the universities do not state their expectations for MSc or Phd that explicitly.

    Thank you for any comments.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 7, 2008 #2
    If you're interested in hep-th, then you might consider: Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial College London, ETH Zurich, LMU Munich, University Utrecht. They all have very good reputation in hep-th and I think that all of them offer master's degrees in theoretical physics.

    As to what your chances are to get into these schools: they are all quite competitive (especially Oxford and Cambridge) and good grades aren't a sufficient condition to be admitted. Generally, what the universties are looking at is:
    1. Letters of recommendation
    2. Research experience
    2. GPA
    2. GRE
    2. Personal statement
    3. Extracurricular activities (like being in the students representation or some students organization,... (in Germany, social/political engagement might be very helpful when applying for funding from non-university sources)).

    Thus, the most important thing to focus on is getting good recomm. letters, and the easiest way to get them is to start doing research early. Also, if the school requires taking the GRE, start preparing for it soon enough, so that you can score well.

    Good luck!
  4. Aug 8, 2008 #3
    Hi wasia,

    I know that the University of Utrecht has a very good reputation in theoretical physics. They have a long tradition of famous physicists such as Gerard 't Hooft (Nobel Prize winner and still teaches undergraduate and graduate courses), Nicolaas Bloembergen (also Nobel Prize laureate) and others. You should check out the program of the MSc at http://www.internationalmasters.uu.nl/index.cfm/site/International%20Masters/pageid/821DFDF0-E081-2E3C-9062BC67968A1467/index.cfm.
  5. Aug 9, 2008 #4
    I'm assuming that by theoretical you mean particle physics, QFT, string theory,etc? Cambridge is famous for selecting the overwhelming majority of its PhD students in this field from its own "masters'" course- the CASM (see here for details). This course is the subject of discussion in another current thread in this forum! Other courses in the UK you should look at arethis one at Imperial and this one at Durham. If you're looking for an MSc in this area Oxford doesn't offer one, but it's research does have an outstanding international reputaton if/when you're considering PhDs in the UK.
  6. Aug 11, 2008 #5
    I'm not aware of any British universities which are interested in the GRE and I've just been through the PhD application process. GRE was suggsted for if I was going to apply to American universities, but I'd missed the deadline so didn't bother. Students normally apply and get offered a (conditional) place while still finishing their undergraduate degree, not having finished if/when you get interviewed is normal and expected, but they will probably will ask you to talk about your BSc thesis.

    I don't know anyone who got published work or won major competitions as an undergradaute, that would make you exceptional, not just fulfilling a requirement.
  7. Aug 11, 2008 #6
    I have never heard of the GRE within the UK before this thread, only US, and this is roughly the line I want to take here. :confused:
  8. Aug 11, 2008 #7


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    You don't need to take the GRE when applying to UK universities.
  9. Sep 1, 2008 #8
    The Imperial College London course encourage EU applicants and you can take the course on a two year part time basis, which might be your only option as grants are difficult to get. Even in the recession London seems to be absorbing EU citizens for Hotel jobs and the like -- maybe you could be a night desk porter, earn money, and read physics books all night. Lots of details online:


    One of the pinned threads at the top has a link to all major CERN research centres Many are Universities. Many will probably run MSc courses.

    Social/political engagement will not be at all helpful when applying for funding from non-university sources in the UK! I'm surprised that it is in Germany. How does that work?

    But you do might get a scholarship of some kind, check with individual universities:

  10. Sep 1, 2008 #9


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  11. Sep 1, 2008 #10


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  12. Sep 3, 2008 #11
    They say explicitly on their web page: "some external funding is available". Is this a porky?
  13. Nov 1, 2008 #12

    If I could make a suggestion: There's the theoretical and mathematical physics master course, which is jointly held by the LMU and the technical university in Munich. I'm currently in this course since just about a month. The universities are both very strong in high energy physics research, TU is more focused on phenomenological high energy physics, while LMU is very strong in string theory.

    The course is not that well known, because it was established only a year ago. The admission procedure seems to be quite competitive, but I don't really know the exact criteria. You can look up further details on the homepage: http://www.theorie.physik.uni-muenchen.de/TMP/ .If you have any further questions feel free to contact me.
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