Cant choose a physics uni :( Watch

JoshZ_98
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So, ive applied to Birmingham, Imperial and Oxford. I already have an offer to birmingham and i expect one from Imperial (not sure ill be so lucky with oxford). But regardless, assuming i get all 3 offers and meet them, where should i go? Oxfords reputation goes before it but so does imperial - and imperial is STEM specialised. On the other hand, ive heard the teaching at both unis is a bit below par due to great reaearchers not necessarily making great teachers. And birmingham is the only one that - when i went to it - i really thought "holy **** this is insane", and it has a much better course but then, like many before me, im a sucker for reputation. Where should i go? Birmingham may be more enjoyable and i might actually learn more but is it worth going to imperial or oxford for all the doors it would open? (Its also worth mentioning that although a lot of people dont realise it birmingham is ridiculously high on most uni league tables, average is about 5th place).

Help! D:
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username638250
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Wouldn't be so quick to expect an offer from Imperial even if you think your interview (if you've had one) went well; you don't want to be disappointed in case it doesn't go your way.

Really depends on what you want to go into but personally I'd take Oxford/Imperial over Birmingham.
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JoshZ_98
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(Original post by yl95)
Wouldn't be so quick to expect an offer from Imperial even if you think your interview (if you've had one) went well; you don't want to be disappointed in case it doesn't go your way.

Really depends on what you want to go into but personally I'd take Oxford/Imperial over Birmingham.
I know, but Im going to assume an offer from all 3 to ensure no bias in picking a uni becauae i think i'll get in. Also, would you pick oxford or imperial just on reputation? Because there's a lot more to uni than that
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Foxab77
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oxford/imperial ofcourse
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troubadour.
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They're all good universities and it's better to do a course that you enjoy than one you don't, if for no other reason than the fact that you'll be better motivated to work hard when it gets tough. At the end of the day, they're all reputable universities and a 2:1 from Birmingham will always be seen as better than a 2:2 from Oxford or Imperial.
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XxKingSniprxX
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Oxford
Imperial
Manchester
Durham/Warwick
UCL/KCL/Bristol/Exeter
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Unkempt_One
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(Original post by JoshZ_98)
So, ive applied to Birmingham, Imperial and Oxford. I already have an offer to birmingham and i expect one from Imperial (not sure ill be so lucky with oxford). But regardless, assuming i get all 3 offers and meet them, where should i go? Oxfords reputation goes before it but so does imperial - and imperial is STEM specialised. On the other hand, ive heard the teaching at both unis is a bit below par due to great reaearchers not necessarily making great teachers. And birmingham is the only one that - when i went to it - i really thought "holy **** this is insane", and it has a much better course but then, like many before me, im a sucker for reputation. Where should i go? Birmingham may be more enjoyable and i might actually learn more but is it worth going to imperial or oxford for all the doors it would open? (Its also worth mentioning that although a lot of people dont realise it birmingham is ridiculously high on most uni league tables, average is about 5th place).

Help! D:
I doubt Birmingham has a better course than Oxford and Imperial, what did you see there that left such an impression on you? In any case I would definitely recommend Oxford or Imperial if you get offers there.
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JoshZ_98
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(Original post by Unkempt_One)
I doubt Birmingham has a better course than Oxford and Imperial, what did you see there that left such an impression on you? In any case I would definitely recommend Oxford or Imperial if you get offers there.
I prefer the course; and on what basis do you recomend it? If its just on reputation anyone would recomend ox/imperial bro.
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Unkempt_One
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(Original post by JoshZ_98)
I prefer the course; and on what basis do you recomend it? If its just on reputation anyone would recomend ox/imperial bro.
That doesn't really answer my question. Did you look at the syllabi for instance? If you look at the syllabi, Imperial and Oxford's courses cover more ground than at Birmingham.
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JoshZ_98
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(Original post by Unkempt_One)
That doesn't really answer my question. Did you look at the syllabi for instance? If you look at the syllabi, Imperial and Oxford's courses cover more ground than at Birmingham.
Perhaps they do, but crap like lasers and optics and electricity really doesnt interest me. So to all extents and purposes i prefer the course. Birmingham isnt as nice as oxford, but it seems to have a better uni life. (And wont be necasserily full of nerds, so to speak.)
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cole-slaw
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(Original post by JoshZ_98)
So, ive applied to Birmingham, Imperial and Oxford. I already have an offer to birmingham and i expect one from Imperial (not sure ill be so lucky with oxford). But regardless, assuming i get all 3 offers and meet them, where should i go? Oxfords reputation goes before it but so does imperial - and imperial is STEM specialised. On the other hand, ive heard the teaching at both unis is a bit below par due to great reaearchers not necessarily making great teachers. And birmingham is the only one that - when i went to it - i really thought "holy **** this is insane", and it has a much better course but then, like many before me, im a sucker for reputation. Where should i go? Birmingham may be more enjoyable and i might actually learn more but is it worth going to imperial or oxford for all the doors it would open? (Its also worth mentioning that although a lot of people dont realise it birmingham is ridiculously high on most uni league tables, average is about 5th place).

Help! D:
I would go to Brum over Imperial, personally. This mystical reputation factor is highly over-rated.
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cole-slaw
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(Original post by JoshZ_98)
Perhaps they do, but crap like lasers and optics and electricity really doesnt interest me. So to all extents and purposes i prefer the course. Birmingham isnt as nice as oxford, but it seems to have a better uni life. (And wont be necasserily full of nerds, so to speak.)
What DOES interest you?

Optics is dull as ****, but most uni's will cover it to at least some extent. I remember having to teach undergrads about the interferometer and it was so boring even I stopped listening to myself. Lasers on the other hand, are cool.
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Unkempt_One
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(Original post by JoshZ_98)
Perhaps they do, but crap like lasers and optics and electricity really doesnt interest me. So to all extents and purposes i prefer the course. Birmingham isnt as nice as oxford, but it seems to have a better uni life. (And wont be necasserily full of nerds, so to speak.)
You're going to cover the same compulsory Electromagnetism courses whichever university you go to. You raise an interesting point with Optics, since Imperial starts it a year later than Oxford and Birmingham. That means you'll still end up having to do some Optics wherever you go. At Oxford you continue it into second year, but I assume that will be Fourier Optics which is much more interesting. Fourier Optics would be covered in the optional module 'Modern Optics' at Birmingham. You might prefer to avoid it that way but Optics really is much more engaging at that level. I don't think laser physics is compulsory at any of them but I can assure you it's much different to what you're probably thinking of; it involves a lot of Quantum Mechanics for a start.
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JoshZ_98
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(Original post by cole-slaw)
What DOES interest you?

Optics is dull as ****, but most uni's will cover it to at least some extent. I remember having to teach undergrads about the interferometer and it was so boring even I stopped listening to myself. Lasers on the other hand, are cool.
What interests me is the kind of stuff that when you talk to people about it, they widen their eyes; stuff like special relativity, string theory, singularities, fundamental particles and spin etc from quantum mechanics, and evolution of the universe. The birmingham course seems much more focused on these than the ox/imperial ones!

And yeah, I probably dont know the whole story; optics i think of as lenses etc which is dull and a tiny bit tedious.
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cole-slaw
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(Original post by JoshZ_98)
What interests me is the kind of stuff that when you talk to people about it, they widen their eyes; stuff like special relativity, string theory, singularities, fundamental particles and spin etc from quantum mechanics, and evolution of the universe. The birmingham course seems much more focused on these than the ox/imperial ones!

And yeah, I probably dont know the whole story; optics i think of as lenses etc which is dull and a tiny bit tedious.
Almost all physics beyond introductory level include stuff like that. You just have to get through the dry stuff first to give you a good grounding.

There is a lot of quantum mechanics in almost every micro-scale field of physics (eg matter physics, nuclear physics, physical chemistry, electro-mag, laser physics, etc) These are really interesting fields and have a whole host of potential applications which mean you will always have plenty of job offers after graduation.

The other thing it sounds like you would be interested in is the cosmology and astro-physics route. This is the more theoretical route with less obvious applications, and it can be a bit contentious, especially in light of the string theory debacle. But if its what interests you, go for it.
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Unkempt_One
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(Original post by JoshZ_98)
What interests me is the kind of stuff that when you talk to people about it, they widen their eyes; stuff like special relativity, string theory, singularities, fundamental particles and spin etc from quantum mechanics, and evolution of the universe. The birmingham course seems much more focused on these than the ox/imperial ones!

And yeah, I probably dont know the whole story; optics i think of as lenses etc which is dull and a tiny bit tedious.
You've probably experienced optics as very simple problems, which is pretty dry (like most of A-level physics). There's more depth to the field than what you've covered at A level though. Did you know you can use Fourier transforms to calculate diffraction patterns?

As cole-slaw mentioned, some topics you're talking about like special relativity, spin and quantum mechanics are basically all covered in second year and beyond. Spin, for instance, is a fairly fundamental concept and you're going to spend much more time applying it to more complex and interesting topics than learning about it for its own sake. If you want to really get into the fundamentals then Imperial will be the best for that since their Mathematics courses are the most accelerated of the three. If you want to use them in a broad range of topics I'd suggest Oxford. Birmingham is somewhere in-between. I'm not sure what gives you the impression that Birmingham is more focussed on those topics than Ox/Imperial?

You can find out about the evolution of the universe in optional topics at Imperial and Birmingham and the 'General Relativity and Cosmology' part of the Oxford course. I'd say Oxford is the winner there.

If you want to look in more detail, here are some links. Birmingham. Oxford. Imperial: course structure, module descriptions.

String theory is far beyond undergraduate level by the way. Don't be too disappointed though, it's almost impossible to test whether it's right!
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username638250
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(Original post by JoshZ_98)
Perhaps they do, but crap like lasers and optics and electricity really doesnt interest me. So to all extents and purposes i prefer the course. Birmingham isnt as nice as oxford, but it seems to have a better uni life. (And wont be necasserily full of nerds, so to speak.)
Oxford isn't full of nerds and I really wouldn't pick a uni because it has less nerds. I'm at Imperial and while there are indeed a lot of nerds, there are also plenty of people who go out a reasonable amount.
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