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Programs PhD in Cosmology with a 2nd Class Degree

  1. Jul 28, 2010 #1
    I am just going into my fourth year of a 4 year MSci course and have got my results from my third year. It's not as good as I had hoped and my average is a 2.1.

    I know that Cosmology is very difficult to get into and PhD's are over subscribed. I was also hoping to work at one of the Internationally recognised institutes like Sussex, Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial or UCL.

    Other than my grades I think I am a strong candidate as can talk fairly fluidly on the subject, have a long list of extra-curricular activities/projects and have good references.

    So my question is, when should I apply for my PhD, should I apply this year or wait until after my 4th year when I hope to pick my grade up to a 1st?
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  3. Jul 28, 2010 #2

    Math Is Hard

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    Welcome to PF, Miss Astro. I've moved your thread to our Academic Guidance forum.
  4. Jul 28, 2010 #3


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    Are you studying maths or physics? What's your current percentage (as opposed to class)? What are your marks in some modules (specifically things like relativity, quantum, classical mechanics, and maths modules (if you are doing a physics degree)). I wouldn't give up just yet, and I would advise applying this year (well, in January/February), otherwise you'd be sitting around for a year which is never great. Are you doing a dissertation in your fourth year? If so, maybe you can try and get a head start with that so you've got more to talk about come interview time.
  5. Jul 28, 2010 #4
    Thank you for the quick and reassuring reply. My percentage is 68 and I'm studying Natural Science, my better grades are in topics like Cosmology (78), Mathematical Methods (70), Communication skills (74). My 'bad' grades are in topics like Chemistry and Stellar Physics; and when I say bad I mean it - in the 40's and 50's.

    In the fourth year we do have a large research based project to do so I will take your advice and make a start with this. I am also doing a Cosmology Research Project at the moment as part of an extra-curricular summer research placement; do you think I will be able to talk about this in the interview? Or will it only be academic things we have done as part of our degree?

    Do you know if I apply for a PhD and don't get a placement, can you apply to the same institutes the following year?
  6. Jul 28, 2010 #5


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    68 is good, and you will certainly be able to pull that up to a first, though I'm not sure that really matters too much. From my experience, your transcript is important, and it seems like you've got very good grades. You may be asked to explain why you didn't do so well in some classes at interview (but then again, I was never asked to explain the couple of marks in the 50's that I had on my transcript).

    That sounds excellent, and something you should certainly make a big deal about in your application. Include it in your research statement, and on your CV, and I'm sure you'll be asked about it in an interview. Another positive of having such experience is that you will have another strong recommendation letter.

    Yup, you can apply the following year if you don't get a position this year.

    I'd also advise applying to a few more places than the ones you list. While international recognition is good, what's more important is the recognition of your specific research group.
  7. Jul 28, 2010 #6
    Ok, thanks for the advice, this was all very helpful.

    You seem to know a lot, you have done a PhD in Cosmology?

    Which other groups do you think are worth applying to? Durham, Portsmouth?
  8. Jul 28, 2010 #7


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    You're welcome and I've nearly done my PhD :smile:

    Yup, they would be two to certainly look into.
  9. Jul 28, 2010 #8
    Have you published any journal papers ? I believe that would increase your chances significantly. If you haven't already published any paper I would recommend to try to get one paper published in this remaining period before applying to a Ph.D studentship.
  10. Jul 28, 2010 #9
    I have one that is being published soon; I'm just waiting for the supervisor to release it to a journal. I am also hoping to get a 2nd out of my Summer Project this year.
  11. Jul 28, 2010 #10
    That's great. You have to emphasize this in your C.V. I would actually say (others may disagree) that this could be as important as your grades.
  12. Jul 28, 2010 #11


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    I don't know of any PhD applicants (in the UK) who had a publication. If you're applying with two publications, and a 68% average, I'd say you'll definitely get an offer from at least one place.
  13. Jul 28, 2010 #12
    Really? I had the impression that Cosmology attracted a lot of mega-clever people so assumed publications would be the norm. It's not as fabulous as it sounds either as my first paper is on stellar theory, not Cosmology and my second is not a certain event at the moment (although I am working as hard as possible to make it happen).
  14. Jul 28, 2010 #13
    P.S. I just noticed your previous MSG about your PhD Cristo, well done on getting a place and best of luck with your thesis :-)
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