Universities for Physics - any help you can give me? Watch

magicmushrooms
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Hey guys, just wanting to know if any of you have gone to any of the unis I'm looking at (listed below) and studied Physics, Theoretical Physics or something similar. How would you rate your experience of the uni, both overall and in specific areas? If you can include as much info as you can, I'd be very thankful

Thanks!


Bristol
Durham
Lancaster
Manchester
Oxford
Sheffield
St Andrews
Surrey
Warwick
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natninja
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(Original post by magicmushrooms)
Hey guys, just wanting to know if any of you have gone to any of the unis I'm looking at (listed below) and studied Physics, Theoretical Physics or something similar. How would you rate your experience of the uni, both overall and in specific areas? If you can include as much info as you can, I'd be very thankful

Thanks!


Bristol
Durham
Lancaster
Manchester
Oxford
Sheffield
St Andrews
Surrey
Warwick
Hi, I'm currently in my second year of the 4 year MPhys course at Oxford. I'm finding it to be a great course. As with any uni level course, it is highly mathematical which is great. In 1st year you cover a variety of maths topics ranging from stuff you did in further maths to a fair amount beyond that in terms of linear algebra, wave maths, and multi-variable calculus, you then do a whole load more linear algebra and partial differential equations in second year. First year physics topics are: Classical Mechanics; Special Relativity; Circuit Theory; Electromagnetism (mainly Electrostatics and Magnetostatics); Wave Optics and Geometric optics. There are also three short options which are: Further Functions of a complex variable; Astrophysics and Introductory Quantum Mechanics (I recommend this one). You must also complete 15 days worth of practical work. In second year you will cover a lot more electromag (some dynamics, some relativistic and EM in materials, plasmas, waveguides etc.), A whole chunk more optics (Fourier optics and a lot more wave optics), Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics (You pretty much cover everything that there is in thermo...), Quantum mechanics and 'Further Quantum Mechanics' as well as 12 lab days, a presentation on a subject of your choice and another short option.

The main downside of the Oxford course for a lot of people is that there are no compulsory astrophysics units and it is quite hard to do a lot of astro on the course.

Any questions feel free to PM me.
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magicmushrooms
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pianofluteftw
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Hi I'm in my second year at Durham.

I love the university for a start. The college system is great and they're all really nice. The city itself is stunning (and seriously don't get put off by the hills/ the northern weather - they're really not that bad!).

The department is also really good. Not only is is ranked highly in the UK and around the world in terms of research, there is a high student satisfaction rate. I would be wary of statistics that claim to show satisfaction rate though as these results are often unreliable as they are taken from surveys that different universities promote in different ways. From my personal experience, people I meet are usually very happy with the teaching and the different options available to you in the course.

Some details (can also be found on their website):

Durham is especially well renowned for astrophysics (research is ranked top in Europe and fourth in the world) so there are plenty of opportunities there. They are also well renowned for computational physics and are host to the Ogden centre, a world centre for computational astrophysics and particles physics phenomenology. Check out https://www.dur.ac.uk/physics/research/ for more info on their research.

First and second year is pretty much set out for you (only one optional module) and are taught to all Physics undergrads (including people on theoretical physics/ astrophysics courses). This is a good thing as it means you cover pretty much all the basic skills and ideas found in the area of Physics, and so can actually see what your strengths and weaknesses actually are (People think they are interested in stuff like 'theoretical physics' before they get to university despite having little to no experience of these topics and often no real idea what it actually is just because Physics at university is nothing like at school at all).

In first year you study Classical Mechanics, Thermodynamics, Waves and Optics, Electromagnetics, Special Relativity and Quantum mechanics (obviously all covering the maths behind these topics as at any other higher education institution), as well as a laboratory module (covering basic lab techniques and coding) and Maths modules either run by the Physics department (designed to cover the maths used in physics) or by the maths department (covering other parts of maths too). You also have a free choice module and can pick any subject, or other modules run by the physics department such as an Introduction to Astrophysics.

Second year you study Electromagnetics, Quantum Mechanics, Advanced Thermodynamics, Condensed matter physics, modern optics, theoretical physics (alternative formulations of mechanics and theoretical quantum mechanics), astrophysics (stars and galaxies), more maths and a laboratory module covering more advanced techniques, electronics and longer more independent projects in the area of your choice.

Third and (possible) Fourth year still include some compulsory topics that build on previous years, but also offer the option to specialise with more options, such as advanced astrophysics, theoretical physics and other topics such as looking at advanced condensed matter physics and its applications in fields such as medical physics, as well as lots of different options for final year projects.

So in conclusion - I think it's a great university. It has all the best things about university (friends, opportunities to try new things, hundreds of different societies and time to try all of the things you want to) but also a fantastic department which offers lots of different options.

When you're choosing a university, you've already picked out the ones with the highest prestige (which is good for employment etc.). However when it comes down to it pick somewhere you'll be happy - go visit the place. Choose somewhere you'd want to live. Choose somewhere with opportunities that you're interested in both academically and for your extracurricular activities.
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