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Question on relationship between undergrad school and gradaute school in the UK

  1. Mar 19, 2006 #1

    I am choosing between Theoretical physics at UCL (University College of London) and Durham University. In the future I am hoping to do research in theoretical physics such as string theory.

    Research at UCL is mostly focused on astronomy and experimental physics while at Durham it is string theory and theoretical physics.

    If I choose UCL (ie an institution where no string theory research is conducted) will my chances of doing a PhD on string theory at another uni decrease? Will they increase if I choose Durham (where string theory research is conducted)?

  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 19, 2006 #2

    First of all let me just say that usually what think you will specialise in before arriving at university usually isn't what you end up doing! Before I came to warwick I wanted to do an astrophysics PhD... Now I'm in my final year with a PhD in Solid state quantum information processing at Oxford scheduled in October. So in your case I wouldn't worry about wich institution carries out research in string theory. I would just focus on going to a university with good quality teaching. And league rankings aren't always a good indication of this. Warwick was 2nd when I applied in 2002 for physics but their teaching isn't all that good. You'll end up teaching your self most things.

    Your choice may change throughout your undergrad studies and even if they don't you won't be at a huge disadvantage. When you apply for PhDs you'll most ikely have to research into string theory yourself when writing your research proposal. That was certainly the case for me.. no one at warwick knows anything about quantum information processing.
  4. Mar 19, 2006 #3


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    It's third this year, I'm debating whether to goto Wariwick or Liverpool, but from what you've said, it's put me off warwick :frown:
  5. Mar 19, 2006 #4
    Sorry the point I was trying to get across though is that at university level you have to be very self dependent.. I have only been to warwick but their teaching may be better than other universities. For me personally I found my self learning a lot of the stuff they teach on my own because lectures are very fast paced with lots of material to cover. I visited Imperial college in january and sat in on one of their lectures.. it's very similar to warwick in that sense. So this may just be something that we have to deal with. Plus I'm currently in the library studying relativistic QM at the moment and it's driving me nuts so my opinion may be biased lol..

    That said Warwick has one of the best campuses in the country... and their en suite accomodation is fantastic so for an undergrad you sure would enjoy living there.
  6. Mar 19, 2006 #5
    Don`t let what Baggio said put you off. No matter what uni you decied to go to, most of what you learn is self taught. The lectures talk about a subject and give you the main/ important pionts but you have got to go away and read around the subject to get a full understanding if you don`t you're going to struggle.
  7. Mar 19, 2006 #6
    I'm chosing between UCL and Durham for theoretical physics (see above), and I'm waiting for replies from Imperial and Warwick. Does anyone have any experiences with physics at UCL or Durham?
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