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Physics - Durham or Imperial College London?

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    So I really need some advice (unbiased please ) on whether to pick Imperial or Durham as my firm because I'm torn between the two.

    I really liked Durham and the collegiate system because it would probably be easier to make more friends this way. It also has a very good Physics department.

    I always read though that Imperial is one of the best for science/engineering and is often compared with Oxford for Physics, and I'd generally be better off with regards to job prospects due to the city, contacts, etc. Although the downsides are the cost and the gender ratio. There are also some complaints about the social life at Imperial but I'm not sure if I'd just be picking Durham for the social life.

    Advice is appreciated :confused:
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    Depends if you'd just be picking Imperial for it's reputation over Durham's, when in the UK market at least there's not much in it; nobody would discriminate against a Durham graduate with the same grades as an Imperial one on academic grounds.

    Imperial downsides; you say gender ratio, but remember that you're in LONDON so, yes, Imperial itself may have a supposedly high male: female ratio, but there are other unis and there are girls there (one of my friends from school is a female physicist there). To be fair the cost is a downside, other than when you live in College Durham's really cheap (I'm paying £49/week for my house this year, it's not the best but it'll do) if you want it to be.

    Also depends what area of Physics you're most interested in (if you know). Durham's extremely good for Astronomy and Particle Theory so if they're your areas at all then pick Durham!
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    (Original post by purple-girl)
    Depends if you'd just be picking Imperial for it's reputation over Durham's, when in the UK market at least there's not much in it; nobody would discriminate against a Durham graduate with the same grades as an Imperial one on academic grounds.

    Imperial downsides; you say gender ratio, but remember that you're in LONDON so, yes, Imperial itself may have a supposedly high male: female ratio, but there are other unis and there are girls there (one of my friends from school is a female physicist there). To be fair the cost is a downside, other than when you live in College Durham's really cheap (I'm paying £49/week for my house this year, it's not the best but it'll do) if you want it to be.

    Also depends what area of Physics you're most interested in (if you know). Durham's extremely good for Astronomy and Particle Theory so if they're your areas at all then pick Durham!
    I think I'd generally just have a more enjoyable university experience at Durham, but I don't know what the cost of reputation difference would be. I read a book on black holes and relativity, and I'm definitely interested in anything space so Durham would be great for this, although I'm aware my opinions may change vastly once I get into a Physics degree and experience the different topics properly.

    Also, do you know what areas Durham Physics graduates mainly go into it?
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    (Original post by vedderfan94)
    I think I'd generally just have a more enjoyable university experience at Durham, but I don't know what the cost of reputation difference would be. I read a book on black holes and relativity, and I'm definitely interested in anything space so Durham would be great for this, although I'm aware my opinions may change vastly once I get into a Physics degree and experience the different topics properly.

    Also, do you know what areas Durham Physics graduates mainly go into it?
    I dont really know anything about IC. However do you have any specific questions about durham, I am nearly finsihed in my 1st year Natural sciences, and I do the main physics module as part of my course, I will be happy to answer anyt questions you have about durham in general, physics or the collegit system (though Im a hatfielder).

    Also the reputation difference is very dubious, IC outperforms durham on the international league tables, but durham does about the same on the internal ones. So the difference comes down to the nit picking of methology which I do not really want to get into. If you want to go on a grad scheme for physics, then the difference will be negligable.
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    (Original post by vedderfan94)
    I think I'd generally just have a more enjoyable university experience at Durham, but I don't know what the cost of reputation difference would be. I read a book on black holes and relativity, and I'm definitely interested in anything space so Durham would be great for this, although I'm aware my opinions may change vastly once I get into a Physics degree and experience the different topics properly.

    Also, do you know what areas Durham Physics graduates mainly go into it?
    The reputation cost would be negligable if you stay in the UK. Internationally Imperial's more well known (with it being in London) but if you stay in the UK Durham's Physics department is very highly regarded.

    If you're interested in space then Durham's for you! There are telescopes on top of the department I believe which some 3rd/4th years have access too for their projects and some world famous lecturers! We also have an active astronomical society (which I'm a member of despite not being a physicist) which meets every week and has the odd social (which I'm in charge of for the next year so if you come here and join you'll definitely meet me).

    To be honest, it varies. I know a number of 4th year physicists but mainly through AstroSoc so there's an obvious bias there! Some are doing Astronomical PhDs (one's going to The Netherlands for it), one friend's staying here for a Particle Theory PhD and some simply don't have anything planned. I think graduates go into different areas though there may be a bias towards astro/particle as that's what Durham's strong for so some may have chosen Durham in the first place because of that. But then again I have friends with absolutely no interest in astro or particle theory!
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    Yeah I would say Imperial is on par with Oxford but a very important point is where you would be happier and by the sounds of it you are only considering Imperial because of reputation/job prospects (which yes, are good but not significantly above Durham).
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    (Original post by soutioirsim)
    Yeah I would say Imperial is on par with Oxford but a very important point is where you would be happier and by the sounds of it you are only considering Imperial because of reputation/job prospects (which yes, are good but not significantly above Durham).
    Hmm do you know what would be the downsides of going to Durham, jobwise? The problem is that I don't know what I want to do after uni. I'm not sure if I'd enjoy working in finance but I know that a lot of physics/engineering graduates go into that particular line of work.

    But if I got to third year and decided that a career in physics isn't for me, then Durham graduates aren't particularly targeted by employers in work like FO IB and for this I'd be trying to compete with graduates from Oxbridge/Imperial/UCL/LSE so I really can't decide and the deadline is in 8 days
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    Hey man,
    I had this exact dilemma the other month, I just went with my gut and thought that Imperial would be a good opportunity. One of the main factors was how I felt when I first walked in to both departments, Imperial felt like this proper elite institution, Durham felt similar but a bit like a school rather than a uni. Also where I'm booking accom it's 30 seconds to the Physics department at Imp, and 20 minutes at Durham, and I'd rather go to the one I can wake up at 8:58am feeling awful and still make it to a 9am lecture or whatever. Also I thought about where I'm more likely to want to live. This was hard since I liked the rural bit of Durham, but more likely to get bored in the town after 4 years. Imperial is in London (no ****) hence it's not easy to get bored, provided you have the right funding
    A main bit is trying to see through this running joke that Imperial is a chinese sausage fest in which you're metaphorically bound to your room coz of the workload. Though the figures suggest otherwise, I've heard from quite a few people who go there who I've met in person that it's not that noticable, I mean when I visited a group of girls came up to me asking me if I was lost and needed help hehe.
    And actually our workload as physicists is a moderate to high amount but not as heavy as say Aero or mathematics, even thought we do a lot of mathematics. I found all this out when I stayed there for 4 days with my friend who already does physics there now. Got to say everything there seems to be the best.
    Also the way their course is set out appeals to me more, and the problem sheet bit is how I was taught physics at A level so won't be too much of a transition. In the end I saw Imperial as an opportunity that I simply couldnt turn down, and if my offer wasn't unconditional, I dont think Durham would have been my insurance, more likely Warwick.

    Just thought I'd tell you how I decided on where I'm off, to help you find a way to distinguish between the two in terms of where you want to go.

    Hope it helps
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    (Original post by vedderfan94)
    Hmm do you know what would be the downsides of going to Durham, jobwise? The problem is that I don't know what I want to do after uni. I'm not sure if I'd enjoy working in finance but I know that a lot of physics/engineering graduates go into that particular line of work.

    But if I got to third year and decided that a career in physics isn't for me, then Durham graduates aren't particularly targeted by employers in work like FO IB and for this I'd be trying to compete with graduates from Oxbridge/Imperial/UCL/LSE so I really can't decide and the deadline is in 8 days
    People worry too much about Uni reputation - modern employers no longer give a stuff which Uni you went to and will attempt to assess how good you are as an individual. Of course that means that graduates of top universities still do well but not because of the university they went to so much as the fact that they were good in the first place and then received a decent education, assuming they make the most of the opportunities available. I'm heavily personally biased in favour of Durham but everyone has to make their own choice. I would encourage the choice to be based on how much you like the course and the place and the life, not some feeling that your potential employer will judge you on what Uni you went to. You'll be more employable if you study a degree that challenges you in an environment that will allow you to develop to your full potential. That could be either of your choices depending on your personality and your preferences. The good news is that the practical choice by definition coincides with the one you most want.
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    (Original post by purple-girl)
    Depends if you'd just be picking Imperial for it's reputation over Durham's, when in the UK market at least there's not much in it; nobody would discriminate against a Durham graduate with the same grades as an Imperial one on academic grounds.

    Imperial downsides; you say gender ratio, but remember that you're in LONDON so, yes, Imperial itself may have a supposedly high male: female ratio, but there are other unis and there are girls there (one of my friends from school is a female physicist there). To be fair the cost is a downside, other than when you live in College Durham's really cheap (I'm paying £49/week for my house this year, it's not the best but it'll do) if you want it to be.

    Also depends what area of Physics you're most interested in (if you know). Durham's extremely good for Astronomy and Particle Theory so if they're your areas at all then pick Durham!
    £49 a week? **** me that's good.
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    (Original post by vedderfan94)
    So I really need some advice (unbiased please ) on whether to pick Imperial or Durham as my firm because I'm torn between the two.

    I really liked Durham and the collegiate system because it would probably be easier to make more friends this way. It also has a very good Physics department.

    I always read though that Imperial is one of the best for science/engineering and is often compared with Oxford for Physics, and I'd generally be better off with regards to job prospects due to the city, contacts, etc. Although the downsides are the cost and the gender ratio. There are also some complaints about the social life at Imperial but I'm not sure if I'd just be picking Durham for the social life.

    Advice is appreciated :confused:
    I'm at Durham and I would definitely go for Imperial. The so-called collegiate system will not offer a better social life than a university located in the centre of London.

    On a side note, I have a friend who was torn between the two and chose Durham; she is now seriously regretting her decision, simply because the Physics course isn't as top notch as it is said to be. I cannot give you a more detailed opinion on this since I don't study Physics!
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    (Original post by spocckka)
    £49 a week? **** me that's good.
    Well we *do* have a leaking roof, rotting window frames (some of which have been replaced), an awful "garden" (which has been chopped back) and the whole house could do with decorating, but yeah...can't really complain at the price but I wouldn't necessarily recommend going for a place this cheap!
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    (Original post by z0tx)
    I'm at Durham and I would definitely go for Imperial. The so-called collegiate system will not offer a better social life than a university located in the centre of London.

    On a side note, I have a friend who was torn between the two and chose Durham; she is now seriously regretting her decision, simply because the Physics course isn't as top notch as it is said to be. I cannot give you a more detailed opinion on this since I don't study Physics!
    What do you think of the collegiate system in general at Durham? Does Durham City get boring? What about the relatively high proportion of snobs?

    Also, do you know how Maths and Physics at Warwick is compared to Durham physics? Can the Warwick physics department compete with Durham's? I quite like Warwick.

    I'm leaning away from Imperial now though, because it was very dull when I visited, and I don't think it'd be worth sacrificing 4 years of a poor social life just to have 'Imperial College London' on my CV :/
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    (Original post by vedderfan94)
    What do you think of the collegiate system in general at Durham? Does Durham City get boring? What about the relatively high proportion of snobs?

    Also, do you know how Maths and Physics at Warwick is compared to Durham physics? Can the Warwick physics department compete with Durham's? I quite like Warwick.

    I'm leaning away from Imperial now though, because it was very dull when I visited, and I don't think it'd be worth sacrificing 4 years of a poor social life just to have 'Imperial College London' on my CV :/
    The collegiate system is an enhanced version of residence halls. This is how I see it. Others see a 'great sense of community etc.'. I myself, do not. I guess you make of it what you want. Durham 'city' gets very boring; I come from a big city and had a very hard time adjusting to the size-change. However, I have friends who are very happy with the town; they love it. It is charming after all!

    The high proportion of snobs is a myth. Of course you'll find some, but same thing anywhere else really.

    I'm afraid I do not know about Warwick.
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    I really doubt that the quality of physics will be any different. I mean you're an undergraduate so you have to learn the basics of physics, you're not going to be suddenly doing international-quality research.

    The focus of modules may be different, eg one uni might offer astronomy modules and the other might not, but the intellectual standard is not going to differ.

    Besides, Durham has a really high international reputation for physics, particularly biophysics and astronomy (google it and I'm sure they'll be some articles/press releases about Durham's physics).

    Also you definitely can get into FO IB from Durham physics, I know someone who is doing a sales & trading BB internship this summer who does physics here. However obviously it's very competitive, but it's incredibly competitive for all top universities' students. The investment and finance society here is very good and there are a lot of networking events, presentations, etc by the big IBs, which do talk about the FO positions and bring people who work in FO roles.
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    Saw this thread and had to post, hope you haven't already made your decision! I'm a third year physicist at Imperial and hopefully can help you out.

    Don't let Imperial's crappy open days and reputation for a poor social life put you off, both are misleading! I went to a similar open day and it was boring as sin, plumped for it anyway as my first choice and haven't regretted it one bit. The social life rumours are largely unfounded.

    As a place to live and study for fours years, London is incomparable to anywhere else. It's absolutely huge and full of opportunities, and most of the halls of accommodation are located in some of the most expensive postcodes in the UK, you may never get another chance to live somewhere similar! Believe it or not the first and second year workload become fairly light in the second term, so you'll have plenty of chance to soak it all up. In the unlikely event you get bored, Paris and Brussels are two hours away on the train and halls often organise subsidised trips. You're also far better placed when it comes to your penultimate year and it's time to find an internship, Imperial is targeted by many recruiters and obviously you're already living in central London where most of the big opportunities lie!

    The atmosphere at Imperial is very intimate, everyone knows everyone since it's a small college. Yes there's a large proportion of nerds (both male and female), but there are also over 200 clubs and societies to join, all of which are very social, and the social atmosphere in halls is good as well.

    If you're going to do Physics here, may I recommend the year abroad option? You can spend your third year in France, Germany, Spain or Italy, and study the language in first and second year (for credit) to get you up to standard. It looks great on your CV and has the advantage of getting you out of second year lab!

    Good luck making your choice, think carefully because it's one of the biggest decisions you're going to make! Wherever you go you'll have an excellent 3 or 4 years.
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    It really depends on your own personality.

    I'm (at durham+physics and) not really an outgoing person: I dislike clubs (dancing + spirits/lager doesn't appeal to me), though I like quiet pubs, restaurants and college bars. I'm happy with it. Other's enjoy some clubs around.

    But I also have a friend at imperial reading physics and has a great social life and easily meets up with his other friends from the other universities in the areaCL for instance. If you want to live in London, then do it, because you will be living in one of the most espensive parts of London for a fraction of the cost. The halls are very very nice, there is everything you ever want and need (parks, All types of music, nightlife, quietlife in quiet parts of kensington), and if you like shopping...

    I was choosing between the two last year (along with UCL), but wanted to move away from London and large cities to rural england - the deciding factor for me.

    PS. If you want a running student union, Imperial is the way to go.
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    (Original post by OMGWTFBBQ)
    I made this choice and am happy with it.

    It really boils down to whether you want a big city experience or not. Everything else is pretty much equal.

    Which college you're at is very important.
    Did you firm Durham over Imperial for Physics (or maths)? I come from a relatively quiet place so Durham isn't really much of a change for me. My offer is Grey college do you know much about Grey? Are there a lot of snobs and 'rahs' at Grey? Also, what are the job prospects for Durham like? Do they have lots of careers fairs from employers?
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    (Original post by vedderfan94)
    Did you firm Durham over Imperial for Physics (or maths)? I come from a relatively quiet place so Durham isn't really much of a change for me. My offer is Grey college do you know much about Grey? Are there a lot of snobs and 'rahs' at Grey? Also, what are the job prospects for Durham like? Do they have lots of careers fairs from employers?
    For physics the graduate employment level is 81+% for physics last year with a starting salary somewhat above 22k. Tbh this is going to be very similar at IC, the difference between a top 3 uni and a top 5 uni (though this point could be argued) is very small and won't really make any difference in that respect.

    The snobs and rahs thing is a complete myth. I am at hatfield, the snobbiest, poshest most public school college (despite being state schooled) yet I have not met a single snob, everyone is really friendly. The 'oxbridge reject' thing is also a myth, no one cares about it although it is occasionally mentioned in the first week as a conversation starter!

    There are loads of careers events, including lectures given by the department.


    Bottom line is, whether you go to IC or Durham you will get an excellent education either way. Pick the one you would like to spend 3/4 (+?) years of your life.
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    (Original post by Kwantum)
    It really depends on your own personality.

    I'm (at durham+physics and) not really an outgoing person: I dislike clubs (dancing + spirits/lager doesn't appeal to me), though I like quiet pubs, restaurants and college bars. I'm happy with it. Other's enjoy some clubs around.

    But I also have a friend at imperial reading physics and has a great social life and easily meets up with his other friends from the other universities in the areaCL for instance. If you want to live in London, then do it, because you will be living in one of the most espensive parts of London for a fraction of the cost. The halls are very very nice, there is everything you ever want and need (parks, All types of music, nightlife, quietlife in quiet parts of kensington), and if you like shopping...

    I was choosing between the two last year (along with UCL), but wanted to move away from London and large cities to rural england - the deciding factor for me.

    PS. If you want a running student union, Imperial is the way to go.
    Why chose Durham then? :p: It's a small city, but hardly rural.

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