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Need help choosing universities (UK)

  1. Feb 1, 2015 #1
    I have offers from Durham, Imperial, UCL and Manchester but I am struggling to see which one to firm and insurance since they all have their good and bad sides.
    Manchester (A*A*A):
    -strong history in physics, with Nobel Prize winners in their staff
    -in a city so there's lots to do
    -national reputation doesn't seem to be as good according to rankings (weaker reputation nationwide?)
    -have Brian Cox/Jeff Foreshaw/Jodrell Bank/John Rylands library (largest uni library after Oxbridge)
    -good that all accommodation I've applied to is single room and catered (7 days a week breakfast and lunch)

    Imperial College London (A*A*A)-
    -fantastic reputation worldwide and nationwide according to rankings
    -in London which means lots to do but very expensive
    -poor gender ratio
    -accommodation looks very nice overall
    -higher workload than the other unis(?)
    -all accommodation is self catered and standard single rooms are expensive

    University College London (UCL) (AAB)-
    -gender ratio better than Imperial
    -tradition for physics is not as strong as Imperial or Manchester and student satisfaction doesn't seem to be as high according to the student survey
    -lower workload than Imperial
    -lots to do since in London but very expensive
    -high in national and worldwide rankings
    -accommodation is a bit cheaper than Imperial

    Durham (A*AA)
    -college system appealing
    -everything is close by which is great but there's a lack of things to do in the area
    -nationwide ranking is high but worldwide ranking is low (weaker reputation worldwide?)
    -seems to have a strong physics department
    -accommodation has a 50:50 split between shared and single but catering is 7 days a week, breakfast lunch and dinner

    I'm interested in getting a career in physics (research scientist) in the UK but might go abroad to the US/Canada or into related areas like engineering but I'm really stuck on which unis to choose so ANY advice or thoughts would be great! I can only choose one firm (1st choice) and one insurance (2nd choice)
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 1, 2015 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    You have your choices and reasons why they are good now just go ahead and score each reason as to how important it is relative to the others and see what comes out. Intuitively you probably already know but something is holding you back from deciding. By scoring, it may become obvious and then you'll know which one to choose.

    You should also list negatives and score them as well.
  4. Feb 2, 2015 #3
    The best thing to do, if you haven't already, is to visit them. Get a feel for each university (and city!), you're going to be there for a minimum of three years so you'll need to actually like the place. All the universites you are applying to are active in physics research, so it's more to do with how you feel about each than anything else.
    The rankings aren't all that important, it's worth remembering the student surveys are self-selecting, i.e. only those that can be bothered will fill it in and the sample sizes aren't particularly large either.
  5. Feb 2, 2015 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    They are all good. However, Imperial and UCL are in the centre of London meaning the experience would be quite different from e.g. Durham and this is something you should consider.
    Also, I am not sure where the accommodation you've looked at is geographically, but I suspect you would end up having to spend more time travelling (and going anywhere in London usually ends up taking an hour).
    I also agree with Vagn, don't worry about the ranking.
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