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Schools UK University Choice

  1. Nov 9, 2009 #1
    Hello again everyone, looking for some advice from people who are/have studied at university;

    The problem i'm having is that the university i'm seriously considering studying at for an MSci (in physics) is UCL however i'm not sure about the course...

    Indeed UCL has a fantastic reputation and i'm sure i'd certainly enjoy life there in London etc at a very good university however having looked at their course degree it's somewhat concerning;

    Electricity and magnetism is not studied until the second year, whereas it is part of the first year in the other universities that I have offers from, it's a topic which i can't wait to do and this does seem strange...
    Quantum mechanics is not necessary at all, and is only an "option" in the third/fourth year, this is a subject which i'm dying to do and at every other university that i've applied to it's a mandatory part of the second year which again is puzzling.
    Also general relativity is from what I gather an option by the maths (not physics department) as an option in your fourth year, again a subject i'd certainley take and it normal at the other universities.

    So in short the question is, should I be worried by this? I know i'd really love the university/my life there however i am getting a degree in physics and would certainly entertain the thought of pursuing the whole of my career in the field so I really want to do as much as I can! =P

    well maybe i'm just reading too much into it, but would appreciate any input
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 9, 2009 #2
    Don't really worry about 1st and 2nd year courses, they are bring evenryone up to speed, and push them to a level required to pursue 3rd and 4th year research.

    If they say they are doing something in the 1st year or 2nd year you can gaurantee it won't be at a level or depth that is taught in 3rd or 4th years.

    Options are there so you can decide on speciailites. Don't fret about the course too much, in reality all the top Univerisites are similar. HOWEVER!! Some may focus on different area so it'd be a good bet to ask them before finalising your application.

    My main peice of advice is Go to a University you feel at home at, don't just go for the course.
  4. Nov 9, 2009 #3


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    I would agree with chris.
    If they had a first year QM/GR course how much of it could they reasonably teach if you only had A level maths?
    Places that have Intro to QM etc as a first year course, like those that offer "physics with Nanotechnology" (or buzzword of the day) - I would be suspicious that they are having difficulty attracting students.
  5. Nov 9, 2009 #4
    much obliged for the advice, both of you, very reassuring!
  6. Nov 9, 2009 #5


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    I actually think it's beneficial for more of the upper level courses at a university to be optional rather than having a very rigid, mandatory curriculum. It doesn't mean you skate out without a good helping of upper level courses, it means you can customize your choice of courses to suit your interests better.
  7. Nov 9, 2009 #6


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    UCL traditionally had a very open attitude to this when I was there (admittedly sometime during the last ice age) there are mandatory course if you want it to say physics/maths/astronomy on your degree but you were otherwise free to pick pretty much any course from these departments. These 3 depts were always very closely linked.
  8. Nov 10, 2009 #7
    I agree. In first and second year we had no choice, 3rd/4th year we had almost complete choice. You need the solid grounding before you pick what you want to do further on, although I'd wonder how you can do 4 years of physics without touching QM in some form! We did QM in 5 semesters of our first six, it was essential for statistical physics, and plenty of other options I missed on solid state stuff.
  9. Nov 10, 2009 #8
    Hmmm thank you a lot for the advice, so you don't think that I would be slightly disadvantaged being only able to study QM etc. for 2 years as opposed to 3 at other top universities? (Of course i'm planning on being keen and hard working =P)
  10. Nov 10, 2009 #9
    No, 2 years is plenty of time. I usually crammed it in ~2 weeks of solid study, time is not your main limitation at university.
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