1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Studying Physics: Italy VS UK

  1. Mar 20, 2014 #1
    Hello everybody!

    I am about to finish high school and I want to study Physics at uni. I am more interested in the theoretical aspects of this subject rather than in the experimental ones and I appreciate pure Math as well. For these reasons, I applied for some Theoretical Physics and joint Math&Physics courses.

    I live in Italy and some universities in my country are well known for such subjects (such as Rome, Bologna or Pisa), yet courses are known to be structured in a really traditional way providing mainly frontal lectures with hardly any stimulating and alternative experience. Italian unis also lack modern equipment and structures due to their low budget.

    UK universities seem to offer more "avant-garde" teaching methods along with new and efficient structures. Student unions and similar organisations, almost non-existent in Italy, have a great appeal on me too. Therefore, as I mentioned, I applied for some courses through UCAS and I've been offered a place by Warwick (Math&Phys) and Manchester (theoretical Physics) so far.

    Exploring websites such as QS Rankings I found out that the former has an excellent reputation for Math (25th place) but not for Physics (151-200), while Manchester is regarded as a very good uni for both subjects (Math:50; Phys:28). Although, I also find the Warwick course appealing because it seems to give the opportunity to choose a career as a Physicist, a Mathematician or in business/financial sector/etc. Is this assumption correct?

    What do you think the best choice would be, considering both academic level and career opportunities?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 23, 2014 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    I wouldn't pay too much attention to university rankings, since they often don't really mean much. Warwick and Manchester are both very good universities and, although I haven't looked at the course content, I imagine that courses in Maths and Physics and Theoretical Physics are going to be very similar in content. Are you able to travel over and have a look around each university and city? Ultimately, you'll be spending 3 years somewhere, so that might be the more important factor between the two.
  4. Mar 23, 2014 #3
    I spent a year at one of the 'Russel Group' universities and got a taste of the very modernized teaching they had, but I think you are not missing out at all on academic rigor if you stay in Italy, in fact I am inclined to think you'd be better prepared. Manchester is an incredibly strong school though. You might get more summer reserach opportunities if you attend a UK university, and a UK brand-name uni is worth a lot in the business world if that's what you want to do. Something to consider.

    Tuition and living costs are also something to keep in mind, definitely work it out and determine if spending that much more money on a university education is worth it for you (no idea what tuition is like in Italy but I'm guessing it's around 5-10x less than in the UK).

    Congrats on getting into Manchester, I would go there.
  5. Mar 23, 2014 #4


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    If it was me (which it is not, that's the trouble with advice, on the other hand I have seen the insides of British and Italian Universities) and had those two UK offers I would take one or the other of them like a shot.

    Give me a single reason for choosing an Italian one.

    No doubt they have improved since I was there 20+ years ago, they were/are aware of the need to change e.g. in the respects you have mentioned among others. But look, you now have a Prime Minister who says he is going to change everything (tomorrow at 7 a.m.). All the changes he may or may not be capable of bringing about are ones everybody intelligent said were urgently necessary 40 years ago. That's what change and modernisation are in Italy. A quick look at the sites for Warwick and Rome Physics suggested that the latter even if dimly aware of the need to make themselves attractive to students like Warwick is would struggle to know how.

    Of the two, if it were me (that again!) and considering you are into theory, i.e. Maths, I would go for Warwick, also for the environment, modernity, student life, fashionability (you'll see what I mean if you visit there) and from what I hear at this site about employment prospects of physicists/mathematicians take also the business option. If my interests were more physics and experimental I would find it harder to decide. When I hear talk here of the rankings of good Universities I always think there cannot be many students good and hardworking enough to be able to profit to the maximum as undergraduates from all what the no. 2 or 20 could offer them. However the bit extra a place like Manchester could offer in physics is breadth, that particular course or teacher in a number of specialities you might happen on in your final year which you might not find in the smaller more limited place. Manchester has the advantages and disadvantages of size.

    At either you will be more followed and attended to by University teachers than in Italy. If you don't want to lose contact with Italy don't the 4-year courses offer a year abroad option?
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2014
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: Studying Physics: Italy VS UK
  1. Physics in Italy (Replies: 2)