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Theoretical Physics - advice/guidance after uni?

  1. Aug 9, 2010 #1
    Hi, I'm a student currently going into my 4th and final year of an MSci in Physics with Theoretical Physics at Imperial College London. I'm currently averaging at a high 2.1, and hope to achieve a low 1st class degree (I won't go into the reasons for this slightly optimistic sounding prediction, just assume that I will get a low 1st, otherwise I'll obviously have to recalibrate my expectations). A relatively large part of my 4th year is an MSci project in Thermodynamics of Systems Far from Equilibrium (Jarzynki's equality, specifically) in which I hope to obtain a high-ish 1st.

    Anyway, after university I'm currently planning to continue in academia, preferably theoretical physics, which I know is a competitive field to get into. Really what I need is two things- suggestions about a path into this career (specifically which PhDs or year out type things and where), and some kind of indication of how high/low I should realistically be setting my sights. For example, I was recommended possibly trying to apply for the Perimeter Institute's PSI master's program next year, but my initial prodding about makes it seem like that's already competitive enough that I'm quite unlikely to succeed.

    I won't go into a full CV, but I don't have a lot to sell myself beyond my academic record, especially in terms of scientific work/research. I am doing a good internship this summer which will give me a lot of material in terms of transferable skills, but I haven't done anything like a UROP or lab work.

    My preference is to continue studying/working in the UK, but I'd also happily consider the US or Canada. Recommendations about other places I'd still be interested in hearing about, especially if they're only for a year out or something rather than a full PhD.

    I really don't know anything about what kind of reputations/funding levels various places have for theoretical physics, so even if you don't have any advice specific to my situation, if you are able to clue me in to the lay of the land, it would be appreciated.

    EDIT: Also, I'm aware that America is big on standardised tests. Are there any of these- or anything similar- that I should know about/pursue if I'm considering working/studying there?
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2010
  2. jcsd
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