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Schools What university should I apply to for a Physics undergraduate couse?

  1. Feb 5, 2013 #1
    Hi, my name is Alejandro. I'm a Spanish physics student and I'm in my first year of university here in Spain. Spanish university is of the worst in Europe and I wanted to start again my Physics degree (we call it degree here in Spain, I don't know how it's called in other countries) in another university (in an English speaking country).

    I've been doing some research on where to go, but haven't really cleared up anything. I've seen that one can do many types of degrees (MPhys, MSi, BSc...) which I don't know the difference and neither what each of them imply. I'd like to do reasearch in Physics. Here in Spain we must do the degree, then a Masters degree, and then the PhD.

    If anyone could give me some advice on where to go, what to look for and why I would appreciate it. Obviously many of you are gonna cite MIT, Caltech, Cambridge, Oxford... but those are really hard to get into and the expenses are too much (living and studying in Imperial College, for example, area bout 25,000 EUR/year).

    I'd like some advice on real possibilities and where I could apply to start a Physics degree. A good, recognized university from which a Physicist can really work as such. (Here in Spain most physicists end up being programmers because there's no work or the real qualification for it). I'm only in my first year of college, but for the moment I've got an average of 8-9 (if that's of any use) and I've passed IB with 35 points (with physics HL, english A2 HL and spanish A1 HL).

    Thanks a lot :)
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 5, 2013 #2
    I am speaking as a Spaniard with his first 3 years done at a Spanish institution who's doing his 4th in a top uni in the UK.

    I wouldn't say Spanish universities are "the worst in the EU" if you're talking about academic level. The academic level at my home uni was actually much higher than where I am now and this is true in general for Spanish universities. Grad level (by US standards) quantum mechanics, Goldstein/Landau analytical mechanics and fluid mechanics, electrodynamics, real analysis from day 1... etc. You don't realize it now, but the coursework requirements at most of the major universities in Spain are very high standard.

    Our bachelors according to the Bologna process is equivalent to the 3-year "BSc" in the UK, despite the fact that ours is 4 years in duration and the fact that we typically have 10-courses per year, instead of 8. If you care about credits, a Spanish Bsc = 240 ECTS. A UK BSc = 180 ECTS.

    You do not need a masters for a phd program unless the phd program explicitly requires it (ie: Max Planck, a couple of UK universities). Many people in Spain can obtain FPI/FPU's (phd fellowships) with just a bachelors, but then again some universities explicitly require a masters for admission. But I wouldn't count on government funding for phd's in the future the way things are going... UK phd fellowships are also out of the question if you are not a citizen or have not been in the country for 3 years.

    In the UK you will be paying ~9000 pounds a year in academic fees alone. Cost of living in London can be about that much or a little more for a whole academic year, in my experience. Tuition is more reasonable in Germany but then again I know nothing about the living cost, nor your grasp of the German language.

    The cheapest thing I can recommend is to try to spend a year as an Erasmus student at another university in your 3rd or 4th year and try to get some research experience while you're there. I am doing this and it has been viewed very favorably for phd programs in the US that I have applied to, and your grades are better than mine.

    Also spam the living daylights out of all the institutions you can find for summer research/intern opportunities in Europe as soon as you can because as you probably already know it's nearly impossible to do research as an undergrad in our country.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2013
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