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Programs Which PhD Offer To Accept

  1. Apr 4, 2012 #1
    So I have 2 PhD offers at the moment for Theoretical Physics. Both of them are to work on quantum gravity/strings etc. One is at Liverpool University and the other is at Swansea University. I am not sure how to decide between them. At the moment, I have:

    (i) Liverpool is a member of the Russell Group and Swansea is not
    (ii) Liverpool is a bigger city so there is probably "more to do"

    (i) Apparently Swansea has the joint third biggest research group in the UK for theoretical physics whereas Liverpool is a bit smaller. This would put Swansea up with Cambridge/Imperial etc in terms of department size
    (ii) Good location on coast. Lots of outdoors-y stuff to do which I enjoy.

    Essentially, I wanted to know if anybody had any experience of either of these places (academically or not) and was willing to offer advice. Of course, I would like to hear any advice even if you don't have any direct experience of either.

    Thanks very much.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 4, 2012 #2
    I can't say much about either university, but I would advise ignoring the 'Russell group' factor. It's not very meaningful at the best of times, and is irrelevant for research.
  4. Apr 4, 2012 #3
    Also, good luck with quantum gravity.
  5. Apr 4, 2012 #4
    You should have spoken with the group leaders, and possibly met the groups [at least we show our applicants around and introduce them to the group]. If the actual research topic makes so little of a difference to you (at least it's not listed as an advantage of either position) then my advice is to base your decision on your personal impression of the group. If you cannot decide from that, pick Swansea: "Larger town" is not a bonus, whereas "lots of outdoors-y stuff to do which I enjoy" is. And of course consider to what extent you want to value the opinion of a random stranger on the Internet who knows nothing about you above your own intuition.
  6. Apr 4, 2012 #5


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    I think the environment is important, but be realistic. You will be a graduate student, I don't think you will get to enjoy too much the outdoors.
  7. Apr 4, 2012 #6
    i thought it was very important for research. russell group unis get more research funding - surely this improves their quality?
  8. Apr 4, 2012 #7
    I'm currently on the other side of the world so unfortunately a "meet and greet" was not possible.

    I get the impression that with Liverpool being a larger town, there would be more to see and do though.

    I like your advice about the people in the group. I was interviewed online by both groups. Both interviews had 2 people present. One of the Swansea guys was very helpful and friendly and the other was nice to start with then seemed a bit impatient.
    At Liverpool they both seemed nice enough but weren't as talkative/enthusiastic as the Swansea guy.
    Of course, choosing Swansea just because they have one nice member of staff (who probably wouldn't be my supervisor anyway) might be a bad choice.

  9. Apr 5, 2012 #8
    The Russell group contains some of the top universities in the country, so it's not surprising that collectively they attract a lot of funding, but what you're interested in is the research funding your department and group will have access to. What I'm saying is that membership of the Russell group is in itself meaningless for research, though it may be associated with things that are relevant, but you can check the important things independently.
  10. Apr 5, 2012 #9
    I tend to agree there. For some silly reason, I was implicitly assuming you personally went to the interviews, in which case you would not only have met the interviewers, but also seen the campus and the institute, and possibly had had the time to chat with some other group members.
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