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Admissions PhD Cambridge/Oxford

  1. May 30, 2017 #1
    HI all,
    I am physics student at his last year in Italy. I'm in one of the very top uni in Italy and Europe(with very strong research). I was able to enter this uni by a very hard test, similar to the physics olympiads. I was the typical top student that sometimes gets top grades and other times good grades(ex. in US: 4.00 and another time 3.7-3. icon_cool.gif .
    But this last year I changed and I am working really hard. I am also working on my thesis(doing a good job), with praises from my advisor. Other professors during the years admitted that my thinking is really above the average student but that I should study more to get better grades.

    Now, my advisor(a top scientist) wants to send me to Cambridge/Oxford for a PHD(I didn't ask anything). He knows a guy there who is searching for top students. My advisor offered to write for me a letter. And when I said yes he was very, very happy to write a letter for me. I think that also another professor(a super top in the field) that knows me well made my name.

    Now imagine, by absurd, that this professor is interested in me and wants to do an interview. I haven't top grades. How can I make in front of him a good image to tell him that those grades aren't representing me? That I can complete in a top way the phd program?

    I am excited by his field and I really like do this kind of things... but how can I 'sell' myself better? I am sure to be able to complete the program in the best way with very good results.

    Have you any advice?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 30, 2017 #2


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    You need to give us more details:
    Is it an experimental or theoretical PhD?
    Is it in Cambridge or Oxford ?
    Would you be applying to a CDT or would you start working in a group?
    What is your current level? Are you finishing up a MSc or a BSc (or equivalent)?
  4. May 30, 2017 #3
    I am on my fifth year, I. E. Msc. (Italy is 3+2)
    TThe university for now is Cambridge for a theoretical position. Have you some advice?
  5. May 30, 2017 #4
    Nobody cares about your bad grades - you got this interview because of promising research experience and a recommendation, not your transcript.

    Just do your best at showing your competencies and enthusiasm.
  6. May 31, 2017 #5


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    So, can we assume that this would NOT be with one of the CDTs in Cambridge then?
    Note that this makes a huge difference to the application process. Applying to a 4-year CDT is a bit like applying to grad school in the US; the process is quite formal and they will inevitably look at your grades (and you will also be doing coursework during the first year).

    If you are applying for a position in a group (usually 3 years) it is a bit like applying for a job; there might be formal requirements (some universities will only accept PhD students that met certain criteria when it comes to grades., I am not sure about Cambridge) but otherwise is really up to your potential supervisor who he/she wants to hire; a strong recommendation from your current advisor will carry a lot of weight,.

    Note that there is no single system in the UK at the moment when it comes to PhDs; but there is move towards more CDTs (since this is what the funding agencies seem to prefer) so the number of places where you start working directly in a group is shrinking quite rapidly.
  7. May 31, 2017 #6
    The position is 3 years. I will work for a project with a specific professor. So I think is the latter case.
    NOw I am applying for the graduate Cambridge (where they check the grades I think and there are also the letters from my profs)
    Then I will send my Motivational letter and a Cv to the department.

    Thank you guys.. If you have some advice to put in my letter feel free to write
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