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    As I understand there are two routes to a Ph.D:

    1) do an undergraduate 4 year degree, then Ph.D.

    2) do an undergraduate 3 year degree, then postgraduate masters, then Ph.D.

    questions:

    1) what is the route that universities prefer (I'm talking about a Ph.D in theoretical physics)

    2) If I were to a a masters (MSc), where should I do it?

    thanks in advance.
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    Depends, I was led to believe that universities would prefer students with postgraduate masters compared to undergraduate masters (like M.Eng) for PhDs and funding... but obviously that's not always the case.

    But anyway an undergraduate Bachelors + postgraduate Masters is always better than just an undergraduate masters. You'll have two degrees, two experiences and also you'll do (and learn!) more in a one-year MSc compared to the final year of undergraduate Masters programs.

    I've also seen some people do a 4 year undergraduate (like MEng), a very good MSc and then go for PhD... maybe not the best (or fastest!) route but they certainly learn much more stuff. You're not doing engineering so that might not be the case for you. Some people also go directly to PhD after a 3 year undergraduate course.
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    (Original post by mathperson)
    As I understand there are two routes to a Ph.D:

    1) do an undergraduate 4 year degree, then Ph.D.

    2) do an undergraduate 3 year degree, then postgraduate masters, then Ph.D.

    questions:

    1) what is the route that universities prefer (I'm talking about a Ph.D in theoretical physics)

    2) If I were to a a masters (MSc), where should I do it?

    thanks in advance.
    More often than not, it does not make much difference. For example, if you did a three-year undergraduate programme and wanted to go straight onto a PhD then you will find that you will have a higher conditional offer to meet than someone who did a four-year programme. If you are on course for a 2.1 or first then there is no reason why you should not apply to go straight onto a PhD, where there will be funding available. Masters programmes sit uncomfortably in the sciences to be honest.
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    don't think it matters hugely. my pro did undergrad MEng and now doing a phd, that route is fine.

    if you want to do a postgrad masters, i think the only place worth doing it is.... oxbridge. lol no i jest, do it wherever you want. there will be so so many masters to choose from, much more variety than at undergrad regarding what you can study, so just make sure your research is thorough, visit lots of university websites to look at their masters programmes and module lists.
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    They're pretty much the same so I don't think it would make too much of a difference =) Apparently though the undergraduate degree that also has a Masters in the programme has a more research emphasis to it, so might be more related to PhD study. As for the Masters, it's good to study one that is interesting. Remember, a masters at one uni is likely to have different content than a masters at another uni.
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    Do an EngD it's better
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    (Original post by Davezk)
    Do an EngD it's better
    And you get paid more

    I did one with a BEng too.
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    I went straight from BSc to PhD, I did however, need a first class BSc to do it.
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    A friend of mine was recently in your position. He got a 1st in Physics from Warwick (4 year undergraduate) and was told after being rejected by all the universities that he applied to that if he wanted to get a PhD place (Theoretical Physics/Maths) that Part III Maths at Cambridge or a postgrad masters from another elite institution would be crucial. Even now being on Part III he's not finding it particularly easy to get a place although he has been offered a few. I understand it's very competitive to do a PhD in that field due to funding shortages so I would strongly recommend doing a postgraduate masters rather than the 4 year undergrad as it seems to be the preferred route.

    nb: I'm by no means an expert in in this field and am just sharing my experience of the issue.
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    Thankyou for all of your very helpful replies.
    From what you have all said I can essentially conclude two things (and correct me if I'm wrong):

    1) Because Ph.D places at top institutions are competitive, a postgraduate masters may show a little more 'maturity' - in terms of:
    i) Already studied the field to a more advanced level,
    ii) Experience at postgraduate level.

    2) It depends where you want to do it (?)

    I have researched various masters programmes on the internet and to be honest even some of the programmes at the top universities look as though they have been formed just to help the university increase it's income, without offering any interesting content.

    However there are a few programmes that actually look as though they are worth doing, eg theoretical physics at King's, or the Msc at imperial. Are there any opinions on this?

    Thanks again for help and advice, and if you have any more please add.
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    From a purely financial standpoint an undergrad masters would be the better option, since you get get an extended maintanence loan for undergrad. You might find it more of a struggle to finance a postgrad masters.
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    In the sciences, stick with the undergrad masters - it's cheaper and will still get you into a PhD without too much difficulty, as long as it goes well! Postgrad masters in the sciences tend to be best for people with less good undergrad degrees (compensating for a bad degree classification to some extent), or for those who are after a change in direction.
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    (Original post by cpchem)
    In the sciences, stick with the undergrad masters - it's cheaper and will still get you into a PhD without too much difficulty, as long as it goes well! Postgrad masters in the sciences tend to be best for people with less good undergrad degrees (compensating for a bad degree classification to some extent), or for those who are after a change in direction.
    I understand what you are saying, but if I got a good BSc and then an MSc, would that actually matter?
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    (Original post by mathperson)
    I understand what you are saying, but if I got a good BSc and then an MSc, would that actually matter?
    I don't see why it would, but equally I don't see what good reason there would be for doing it that way.
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    (Original post by cpchem)
    I don't see why it would, but equally I don't see what good reason there would be for doing it that way.
    possibly for studying an area that I would be interested to do a Ph.D in, in more depth than would be studied at undergraduate level, and possibly also to gain a little more maturity in approaching aducation at a postgraduate level.

    Beyond that, it would mean going into a Ph.D programme with two degrees instead of one.
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    Depends entirely on what field you're in. I "only" have a 3 year BSc, and will be handing in my PhD thesis in a couple of months. Some MScs are just money spinners for universities, with no real improvement in your research prospects or your own abilities/knowledge as sometimes at some universities they are dumbed down reheated 3rd year lectures, for people with a first degree from an ex-poly willing to pay £££ for a piece of paper with a famous name on it. Have a frank talk with multiple people actively involved in research in your department to see if yours is one of the fields where this is the case.
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    Depends on the Ph.D: You'll need a professor as opposed to a regular Ph.D lecturer(A lecturer with a ph.d, not a lecturer who normalises in teaching Ph.Ds), which are in extreme demand, and then you have to spend 7 years in a class of around 40 siphoning his knowledge at the cost of thousands in student loans. Giving you stats about 1 in 900 go on to have a Ph.D

    Edit: Just realised you were trying to be a major or Ph.D in theoretical physics: You will need to be asoloute top because physics lecturers are in VERY high demand.
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    (Original post by mathperson)
    possibly for studying an area that I would be interested to do a Ph.D in, in more depth than would be studied at undergraduate level, and possibly also to gain a little more maturity in approaching aducation at a postgraduate level.

    Beyond that, it would mean going into a Ph.D programme with two degrees instead of one.
    I would try and get a job as a lab tech or equivalent rather than doing this, if you want to see what a research career is like from the inside. You can study the subject in as much depth as you like with an academic login, and if you get your PhD an MSc is scrap paper anyway.
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    (Original post by mathperson)
    possibly for studying an area that I would be interested to do a Ph.D in, in more depth than would be studied at undergraduate level, and possibly also to gain a little more maturity in approaching aducation at a postgraduate level.

    Beyond that, it would mean going into a Ph.D programme with two degrees instead of one.
    Well if you are thinking of doing an MSc, a good place to do it would be the Fundamental Forces and Fields course at Imperial, seems a very good theory course for getting onto a PhD in theoretical physics.
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    (Original post by MeWantConsultant)
    then you have to spend 7 years in a class of around 40 siphoning his knowledge at the cost of thousands in student loans.
    or, in the UK (no idea what system you're talking about but sounds like a second hand view of the US), you will spend 3 or 4 years in a lab making ~13k tax free, occasionally teaching classes of around 15, at the cost of no pounds in student loans unless you're self funded in which case god help you.
 
 
 

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