Hi, as well as applying to US gradschools (you may have seen some of my other threads...) I also intend to apply to UK places (I would ultimatley prefer to go a US gradschool, but I need some insurance incase I mess up the PGRE, and dont get accepted anywhere, or anywhere half decent). I'm interested in theoretical particle physics, most likely heading in the stringy direction, but not necessarily set in stone. To give you my background, I'm a UK citizen and graduated in 2007 (so by the time I actually start the PhD I would of had 2 years out :( ) I originally intended to have one year out, just to travel and have a break from academia etc and was intending on starting my PhD this september. However I applied to only 3 universities; Oxford (had the interview from hell, I had been doing temp work and travelling with abs no physics for almost a year at the time of this interview and it was just a nightmere), Durham( I was quite badly ill at the time of interview, so ended up missing my chance there), Imperial (I applied to the string group here and didn't even get invited for an interview!). So I am bit gutted at the moment to say the least at having to fill another year and be away from academia again, but never the less I've had time to prepare for the GRE's so if I ended up in the US that would be a nice twist. I feel my background is pretty strong with a First class degree, from a decent UK university and near the top of my year, and with a publication. However being rejected without interview from Imperial string group has really worried me, what calibre of candidate am I against? I don't know if I would have been accepted at Oxford if I had prep'd better etc and had a good interview, but at least they invited me in the first round of interviews. Why did Imperial reject w/o interview but not Oxford? Now I'm in the situation were I have to decide where to apply for 2009, I feel I can't apply to Oxford/Imperial/Durham again, and they are a large portion of the theoretical UK particle physics group. I don't really want to take part III (although I would at a very last resort if I hadn't been accepted anywhere else) to *attempt* get into DAMTP. So that seems to leave me with: Cambridge cavendish HEP group (this group is very very sim to my undergrad dept HEP group, and my previous advisor has good contacts here, so I may have a good shot of acceptance). Im not sure however if this is "theoretical enough". Sussex theory group: seems a very close fit on research, but I wonder what the reputation of the group is, and if that is something I should worry about? Queen mary string group: again I like the research here, but worries about it being a small group and how well regarded? Nottingham Quantum gravity group: great group, seems really unique and definitley interested in their research, how well regarded is it? Also this group is in maths dept not physics, would I struggle to be accepted? KCL: maths group again, same worries as with Nottingham. Lancaster: reputation? lack of info on the math phys group here. Finally Edinburgh and Glasgow, which seem to be quite reputable, although Im not sure theyre a research match.