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Theoretical-oriented MSc in the UK

  1. Sep 11, 2008 #1
    Hi everyone,

    I’m an Italian student of Physics (2nd year in undergrad course) from Milan. Here in Italy I’m going through a very disappointing and frustrating experience: our ministerial programs barely have any practical sense, many teachers are defeatists and lazybones, there are no didactics, no support, no debate, no prodding.

    I’m wasting a lot of precious time and I refuse to start over again this torture for the Master’s degree. I’ve been asking around trying to make the point of the situation in other universities but the average result is not encouraging. So, I’m longing to graduate and leave for the UK.

    Currently, my interests are focused on Theoretical Physics / Theoretical Astrophysics / Cosmology / Complex systems modeling. The amount of online material, though, is gigantic, rather puzzling at times. I run into physicsforums.com almost by chance and –seen that many people here wonder what I wonder– I wish I could get some help.

    In short - hoping the question is not too much generic - I'd like to hear your opinion on deepening these fields in the UK (i.e. what / where are the best MSc courses, always in your opinion). Maybe someone experienced can give me some advice :).

    Thank you so much for your time!

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 12, 2008 #2
    I took the theoretical astronomy MSc degree at Sussex University in the UK about twenty years ago. "Defeatists and lazybones" would describe the situation at that time. Most have retired now, so things might be better... I took my undergraduate degree at Leicester University; didactics, support, debate were hardly to be found. Wonder why I moved out of physics :-)

    So don't be certain of finding it any better over here in the UK! Then again, keep asking. There are several current UK students on here. Someone recently said they were really enjoying Durham....
  4. Sep 12, 2008 #3


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    Why U.K when you can come to Uppsala, Sweden - world leading in theoretical physics (string theory) and theoretical magnetism? :-)

    They also are pretty good at theory of complex and caotic systems..
  5. Sep 13, 2008 #4
    here(india) the condition is different physics is tought only for grades and only few profs in limited universities teach well
  6. Sep 13, 2008 #5
    First of all, thank you all for answering :)

    My first thought went to the UK because of the language and because of the famed rigorous angloamerican academic culture, although I must admit that these are not sufficient reasons. For instance, I know well that in Sweden most lessons are done in English.

    I work hard and I expect the people who are there to teach me to do the same. Basically, what I'm seeking is a place where I can work the best and be taught the best (or a balanced compromise of the two).
  7. Sep 13, 2008 #6
    Imperial offer a Theoretical Physics MSc.....looks pretty good
  8. Sep 13, 2008 #7


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    You probably mean the Quantum Fields and Fundamental Forces MSc. I agree, this is a good programme: arguably the best in the UK.
  9. Sep 13, 2008 #8
    The first thing that should probably be said is that UK masters' courses are not like those on the rest of the continent. As I understand it a masters there takes two years- one of advanced courses, one of research. Here, you do one year of either of those things, but you're still considered ready to do a PhD at the end of it. (Taught courses do invariably involve a disseration; it's just not generally original research.)
    If you're feeling ambitious, there's the Cambridge CASM, which offers an incredibly wide range of topics (including some on *all* of the above mentioned interests I think) and no compulsory courses. It's run within a maths department so you may have missed it.
    But as for actual MScs seconded that Imperial's is probably the best in the UK. But I'd strongly suggest that you decide what you actually want to do first! The imperial course would be lousy if theoretical astrophysics or complex systems modelling is what you really want to do.
    Here in Durham there's a good taught MSc course in particle physics but it's pretty specific, and I don't think it can be recommended if, say, cosmology is what you really want to study; there are courses on cosmology and general relativity, but they're really to equip you to study string theory and the interface between cosmology and particle physics. You can also do an MSc by research in astronomy or astrophysics, for which our department is apparently the 'best' in Europe and 4th 'best' in the world (according to The Times HES- measured in terms of average citation count or something like that to provide a measure of the impact of each researcher's work).
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