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    Lancaster was at the top of the league tables this year?
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    (Original post by Ruvermillion)
    I am thinking of doing a course in Physics/Physics with Theoretical Physics at university and have some questions:

    What are the top universities for Theoretical Physics?
    How much maths is there? i.e. is it just further maths a-level carried on?
    Imperial and UCL
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    I have no experience with any university in the UK (even more so when it comes to reputation), so please excuse me if I am wrong.

    However, as Bleak Lemming has mentioned, Lancaster University has always been in the upper part of physics ranking tables for the UK. Although it never seems to get mentioned much when talking about physics for some reason :confused:
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    (Original post by thestudent55555)
    Imperial and UCL
    Imperial is good at theoretical physics.

    But why UCL???? Fragmented small numbers of people, no heavy mathematical people.

    Plenty of places better than that.
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    Hi, I've just finished Physics at Oxford and heading off to the US to start a PhD in Theoretical Physics at Princeton. I applied to 14+ places in the UK for theory PhDs last year so I have a decent idea of the competitiveness of most places and their applicants. I'll assume for the moment that you might be interested in carrying on to graduate study afterwards...

    First, the level of maths you will be studying will vary greatly depending on the areas you choose to specialise in. Areas such as astro or particle phenomenology seem to follow pretty logically from A level - that is, the maths you use are taught as you progress through the degree. Pure particle theory or string theory-like areas seem to have more hurdles to jump and you'll probably find yourself learning a lot of 'pure' maths like algebraic geometry etc. (A word of encouragement, it may look boring / uninteresting now but it's pretty cool once you realise it's useful - I was in this position) At this point you also need to think about the kind of theory that excites you. For example, Warwick doesn't really do any research into strings / high energy theory other than within a mostly experimental group. It might be hard to find someone to supervise a maths heavy project there...

    (sorry about triple post, forum is throwing errors with long replies...)

    For theory I think the quality of research at the university plays a larger role than it might do for other undergraduate degrees. You will most likely be doing a project of some kind in your fourth year, having recognised leaders in the field to supervise you or write references for you is a massive help! The course content is important but not everything, you can always learn stuff in your own time if you're keen - those doing theory normally are : ) Knowing what I know now, I'd rank the courses something like this:

    Cambridge Maths with Physics / NatSci transferring to Part III Maths in the final year (The courses on offer in Part III Maths / the MASt are pretty unrivalled, if I had a choice to do it all again I would definitely pick Cambridge)

    Oxford or Imperial (This one is difficult. At Oxford you can take contour integration in the first year, advanced classical mechanics in the second, chaos and advanced quantum in the third setting you up very well, plus GR in the third year. Imperial has a better fourth year course at the moment if you take the right courses or push to do some from the QFFF MSc, but I happen to know the Oxford fourth year theory course is going to get a massive boost soon. Both have good staff but the tutorial system would, and did, tip it in Oxford's favour for me. Oh, Oxford also has the mathematical physics group working in the maths department with some pretty famous people, Candelas comes to mind. The Oxford name might hold a bit more weight globally and in the job market afterwards too...)

    Durham (Doesn't cover as much as the above unless you push to do courses from their separate MSc but it does have a large and varied research group)

    King's College London (It might not have the reputation of some of the above, but it has some great courses and great people. Particularly doing GR in third year and the modules offered by Maths in the fourth year)

    Warwick (Some of the more maths oriented courses look like fun)

    Birmingham (Doesn't have great quantum field theory course though)

    If you want to know a bit more about the Oxford course, feel free to send me a pm : )

    Best of luck!
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    (Original post by anttna)
    (sorry about triple post, forum is throwing errors with long replies...)

    For theory I think the quality of research at the university plays a larger role than it might do for other undergraduate degrees. You will most likely be doing a project of some kind in your fourth year, having recognised leaders in the field to supervise you or write references for you is a massive help! The course content is important but not everything, you can always learn stuff in your own time if you're keen - those doing theory normally are : ) Knowing what I know now, I'd rank the courses something like this:

    Cambridge Maths with Physics / NatSci transferring to Part III Maths in the final year (The courses on offer in Part III Maths / the MASt are pretty unrivalled, if I had a choice to do it all again I would definitely pick Cambridge)

    Oxford or Imperial (This one is difficult. At Oxford you can take contour integration in the first year, advanced classical mechanics in the second, chaos and advanced quantum in the third setting you up very well, plus GR in the third year. Imperial has a better fourth year course at the moment if you take the right courses or push to do some from the QFFF MSc, but I happen to know the Oxford fourth year theory course is going to get a massive boost soon. Both have good staff but the tutorial system would, and did, tip it in Oxford's favour for me. Oh, Oxford also has the mathematical physics group working in the maths department with some pretty famous people, Candelas comes to mind. The Oxford name might hold a bit more weight globally and in the job market afterwards too...)
    I wouldn't really rate Oxford with Cambridge/Imperial for theo. phys but I can't be completely objective as my research into your course didn't go as far as I wanted.

    Can you list all the your theory course in more detail, I was under the impression that the undergrad physics option at Oxford was pretty rigid in comparison to the other 2...

    thankyou for the neg also.
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    (Original post by slylion1)
    I wouldn't really rate Oxford with Cambridge/Imperial for theo. phys but I can't be completely objective as my research into your course didn't go as far as I wanted.

    Can you list all the your theory course in more detail, I was under the impression that the undergrad physics option at Oxford was pretty rigid in comparison to the other 2...

    thankyou for the neg also.
    You are correct that the course is more rigid than the other two, but we still cover the areas important for theory. For example, rather than having lots of final year options to pick and choose from, there are six including 'theoretical physics' and 'particle physics'. These cover most of the same areas as the Imperial course but with less depth e.g. no non-Abelian gauge theories. But as I said, I've heard this is going to be remedied in a big way in the next few years.

    Content wise, the syllabus for the fourth year theory and particle options can be found here: http://www-thphys.physics.ox.ac.uk/p...heory-new.html http://www.physics.ox.ac.uk/users/Kr...%202010-11.pdf
    We cover Lagrangian / Hamiltonian in a second year short option and Dirac / Klein-Gordon / scattering in a third year short option.

    At this moment, if you can switch to the QFFF MSc at Imperial in your fourth year, I would say go there. But with the promise of more theory in the Oxford course by the time you make it to your fourth year, both are tempting.

    One avenue open is do three years at Imperial / Oxford / elsewhere and then do Part III at Cambridge for your Masters. This should be funded too.

    p.s. I'm not sure if you were referring to me with your last comment, but it wasn't me!
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    (Original post by anttna)
    You are correct that the course is more rigid than the other two, but we still cover the areas important for theory. For example, rather than having lots of final year options to pick and choose from, there are six including 'theoretical physics' and 'particle physics'. These cover most of the same areas as the Imperial course but with less depth e.g. no non-Abelian gauge theories. But as I said, I've heard this is going to be remedied in a big way in the next few years.

    Content wise, the syllabus for the fourth year theory and particle options can be found here: http://www-thphys.physics.ox.ac.uk/p...heory-new.html http://www.physics.ox.ac.uk/users/Kr...%202010-11.pdf
    We cover Lagrangian / Hamiltonian in a second year short option and Dirac / Klein-Gordon / scattering in a third year short option.

    At this moment, if you can switch to the QFFF MSc at Imperial in your fourth year, I would say go there. But with the promise of more theory in the Oxford course by the time you make it to your fourth year, both are tempting.

    One avenue open is do three years at Imperial / Oxford / elsewhere and then do Part III at Cambridge for your Masters. This should be funded too.

    p.s. I'm not sure if you were referring to me with your last comment, but it wasn't me!
    that document cleared up a lot. thanks. Well yes if you guys are getting a course upgrade then that will definitely make your 4th year competitive with qfff and part 3. another question. how long are labs compulsory for on the Oxford theory option. 2 years is more than enough at Imperial!
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    If I remember rightly there are 12 days of practicals in each of the first three years. Six of them can be substituted for a second short topic each year (recommended for theorists). Alternatively, you could do what someone at my college did - take two short options each year and do every possible practical in your own time! Crazy : p
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    Any opinions on Lancaster? I'm looking at Theoretical Physics with/and Maths and intend to apply to Lancaster, St Andrews and Cambridge (plus 2 as yet undecided others). I'd be applying for Maths with Physics at Cambridge.
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    (Original post by lunney)
    Any opinions on Lancaster? I'm looking at Theoretical Physics with/and Maths and intend to apply to Lancaster, St Andrews and Cambridge (plus 2 as yet undecided others). I'd be applying for Maths with Physics at Cambridge.
    focus on getting on maths tripos or imperial theory option. Thats the top for theory guys. good backup is durham and st andrews.

    I dont know much about lancaster but why go there when you can go 2 one of the above 4?
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    (Original post by slylion1)
    focus on getting on maths tripos or imperial theory option. Thats the top for theory guys. good backup is durham and st andrews.

    I dont know much about lancaster but why go there when you can go 2 one of the above 4?
    I don't want to go to a London uni and really disliked Durham. That leaves me with the choices I've made. Lancaster is supposed to be very good for research and I like the uni itself. It's just whether or not a degree from there would stand well.
 
 
 
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