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Req: List of (Cheap?) Universities in England

  1. Jun 9, 2008 #1
    I will now start my process to apply for a physics program in England. I choose England because I want to be better at English and its sounds like a nice country, and USA is way too expensive, what I've heard. The only University I have checked so far is Cambridge, and it didnt sound that expensive (~3070£ a year), but im nowhere sure that I would be accepted there. So I would like a list of Universities in England that:
    Are not too expensive
    Are renown for physics and/or mathematics
    That are not impossible to be accepted in

    And ofcourse Universities that you recommend based on any other criteria.
    Your help would be very much appreciated, I feel kind of lost in this subject.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 9, 2008 #2
    Cambridge will be very difficult to get into. There is a kind of 'top ten' of universities in the UK (not just England) known as the Russel group, including Oxford and Cambridge, and also other universities such as Imperial College, Durham, and Cardiff, which you might consider looking up. I think there's a flat rate of tuition for all of the UKs universities, but again you should look into that yourself to confirm it.
  4. Jun 9, 2008 #3


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    It depends where you're from. If you're from the EU, then you can pay "home" fees, which are about £3100, but if you're from outside the EU then you will have to pay international fees, which can be upwards of £12000 depending on the instiution you apply to.

    All your other criteria are subjective: without any knowledge of your background, or education, I have no idea where you could realistically be admitted.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2008
  5. Jun 9, 2008 #4
    what is included in that £3100 fee, is it only the education or is it also the housing at the university? and yes, im from the EU (Sweden).
    I just finnished high school, on a science program, and I took alla mathematics and physics courses that was available on my school, and got top grade in them. In the other subjects I think I did well, but I dont have top grades in all subjects.

    I read on the requirement page on the website of Cambridge university that I needed specific qualifications in English, but I dont have any of them because they are not available in Sweden (or maybe they are, but I had no idea they existed). The only thing I have is my grade from two english courses from my school (and unfortunately, I only have the second best grade in one of them). Is that enough? Otherwise, what should I do?

    It also stated that I should have taken A level courses, or AS level course, altough Im not sure what that means.
    Will not the education I got here in Sweden bee enough, or do I need to take extra courses? I will, however, study mathematics for a full year at the university in Sweden before I eventually start my studies at an brittish university.

    I also qualified to both the physics and the mathematics finals in the swedish math/physics competitions (which is the top ~2-4%). Could that be an acceptable merit for the application?
  6. Jun 9, 2008 #5


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    That's just tuition fees: accommodation and living expenses will be on top of that.

    Here is the link to the international students advise page: http://www.cam.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/international/requirements.html

    As it says there, you should contact the admissions office as soon as possible, and this applies for other universities too. They are the only people who will really be able to tell you whether your qualifications are suitable. I would also advise you to look at places other than Cambridge, since they only accept the best of the best.
  7. Jun 9, 2008 #6


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    Just be a bit careful. A good Swedish university is definitly better than a bad British one and there are plenty of (small) British universities that aren't exactly great (including former polytechs etc) if you want to study physucs; many of them are probably not better than just about any small university in Sweden.
    Studying at a university abroad might be fun/educational for a year even if the university isn't great; but if you are considering applying for a full program you need to be careful.

    Also, Cambridge and Oxford are obviously good universities but they are not THAT good, I know plenty of people who studied physics at Oxbridge (=Oxford&Cambridge) and far from all of them are "brilliant"; in my experience I would say Engineering physics at Chalmers, KTH and perhaps Uppsala is probably almost as good (I studied at Chalmers; I am now working in England); especially if you are considering a career in experimental physics (some of those boring engineering courses do turn out to be useful once you end up in a lab) .
    Don't get me wrong, there are obviously a lot of very good people coming out of Oxbridge but it does not happen automatically, you need to put in a lot of work regardless of where you study and after comparing experiences with my current colleagues I would say F at Chalmers is probably even "tougher" than physics in Oxbridge (at least if you count the number of hours you need to spend studying every week), I suspect the same is true of KTH.
    But, if you are considering an international career you could obviously do worse than Oxbridge.

    Note also that many Swedish universities will give you the opportunity to spend your fourth year abroad; I know that Chalmers is e.g. collaborating with a couple of British universities (as far as I remember Imperial and one more) so that is another possibility if you want to spend a year in the UK; I also have a couple of friends that spent one year in Paris.

    Lycka till!
  8. Jun 9, 2008 #7
    Thanks a lot for the replies! I have considered Universities in Sweden and I will most likely end up there but I wanted to examine the possibilities of abroad studies.
    What I want to focus on is theoretical physics, such as string theory etc. What University in Sweden should be the best one for that? I have only been recommended Swedish Universities for technical and experimental physics, never heard anyone talk about any research in string theory, or quantum mechanics.
  9. Jun 10, 2008 #8


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    First of all: In my view it is FAR to early to think about exactly what you want to do after you finish your undergraduate studies, this is something you will have plenty of time to think about over the next few year.
    Secondly, it is true that different universities tend to specialize in different things but that has usually little direct effect on their undergraduate programs; it only becomes important when you have to decide where you want to study for your PhD.

    There isn't much research in string theory in Sweden(or anywhere else for that matters). String theory, cosmology etc are VERY small fields and there are probably only a few hundred people in the whole world that work in these fields full time. These fields do get a lot of attention in the media etc but are in reality tiny compared to e.g. solid state physics.

    That said, there are a couple of small groups in Sweden that specializes in string theory etc. Lars Brink's group at Chalmers is actually quite well known. As far as I remember there is also some research being done at Stockholm University.
    However, note that these are (again) very small fields. Brink's group (which has something like 5-10 members) will only take on a new PhD student once every 2-3 years or so (at least that was the case when I was still at Chalmers) so your chances of being accepted as a PhD student will not only depend on how good your are but also on luck with timing etc. But of course there is nothing stopping you from moving somewhere else.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2008
  10. Jun 10, 2008 #9
    Just a word about physics departments in UK unis, Physics degrees in the UK are accredited by the Institute of Physics, policy is here:


    All the degrees accredited are on this link here. They have to cover core courses to fulfill the criteria.


    I haven't done an exhaustive search to check every one, but I'm pretty certain that every variation of physics degree in the UK is on that list. This means that physics at undergraduate level is pretty much standardised here in the UK.

    There's a variation in research areas of course, but I guess that's more important at post-grad level. I've been told repeatedly by lecturers, other students, that you'll get virtually the same undergrad education wherever you go. It's worth comparing the details in the prospectuses for yourself, but I found that every uni I considered covered the same topics, up until the fourth MSci year where which modules available are more dependent on the type of research the uni specialises in.

    Looking at the list:

    Bath, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Durham, Exeter, Hull, Lancaster, Leeds, Leicester, Leeds, Liverpool, Imperial, Kings College London, Queen Mary, Royal Holloway, University College London, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford, Reading, Sheffield, Southampton, Warwick, York

    Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews

    Cardiff, Swansea(?)

    I've read extremely good things about. They're all excellent in their own right. Imperial is one of the best science and tech unis in the world, Lancaster has an excellent reputation, and Southampton is totally underrated imho.

    The others, I have no idea. I don't think they have as much name recognition as the others, but they must have decent physics departments to be accredited.

    With Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, Warwick, Durham, St Andrews, you need high grades and you need to apply early. But Warwick, Durham and St Andrews are exceptionally popular for themselves, not their physics departments for which I've not read anything spectacular. And most students gravitate towards Oxbridge and Imperial, so you'll enter fierce competition there. The problem is that physics is not at all popular in the UK, and after the first application deadline, apart from these 6 there are still places left everywhere.

    What I'm saying is that if you apply for any of the others and have good math and physics grades, you'll get an offer. Unis are pretty desperate for students to fill their quotas sadly :(
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2008
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