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    I'm a physics student at the University of the West of Scotland. At high school, I didn't sit many exams (I only have an English higher) but I managed to get into college and study mechanical engineering for a year (where I achieved an A in my final graded unit), before moving into a physics course. The mathematics that I've studied on my own and at college is at a higher level than not only the students who have entered into the same course as me, but the coursework itself (For example, calculus has been almost non-existent in the physics part of the course and hardly anyone in the class understands it's foundations or where it comes from.) It's concerning me, since physics is reported by others to be incredibly difficult at university level -- especially the mathematics. I did some research, hoping that it would just be some kind of temporary thing, but based on other discussions on this website there have been other students who feel like they are in UWS for far less hours and doing far less work than others at university in other subjects. I feel like I'm not being pushed to the level that I want to be.

    I have no concern for the "status" of a university (russell group universities or w/e they're called). I'm only concerned with learning about physics at the highest degree possible. That being said, having compared the course subjects in the 1st year to Glasgow University and Strathclyde University (the only places I could reasonably afford to transfer to, assuming I can get into second year), the subjects are very similar to the subjects I've been studying in my own course -- but I feel like it's not to the same level of detail.

    My question is this:

    Are universities like Strathclyde and Glasgow University more challenging than the university that I'm currently studying? What kind of content do they study? And is it possible for somebody like me to transfer to any one of those universities physics programs into the second year?

    EDIT: The reason transferring into second year is important, is because of two reasons. I don't want to have wasted my time for a year, and I don't want to have used up my SAAS funding on what amounted to absolutely nothing of value.
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    The way to find out about transferring is to contact the unis and see what their policies and requirements are. See if they can put you in touch with current or former students and maybe see if you can get in touch with the course director to find out what is taught and how. Just a few other things to think about:
    The first year in most places and with most degrees is about bringing everyone up to speed as they may come from different backgrounds. However, if you's concerned and have others who are too talk to your tutor and maybe some at the student union and see what, if anything, can be done.
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    (Original post by folluber)
    My question is this:

    Are universities like Strathclyde and Glasgow University more challenging than the university that I'm currently studying? What kind of content do they study? And is it possible for somebody like me to transfer to any one of those universities physics programs into the second year?

    EDIT: The reason transferring into second year is important, is because of two reasons. I don't want to have wasted my time for a year, and I don't want to have used up my SAAS funding on what amounted to absolutely nothing of value.

    I got in a slightly heated discussion about this with someone on here not long ago. We were talking about what makes one uni better than another.

    The thing that separates universities is not the outright difficulty of the material, but in the amount of content they're able to teach you over the time you're there. This is mostly about what professors they have available to teach in specialist topics, or about what funding they can get to employ these professors.

    Basically, physics degrees (or any major subject) have to meet certain specifications to be granted the right to be called an official degree in that subject. So with physics, the core material is set out by the institute of physics - look at pages 8 and 9 of this PDF - http://www.iop.org/education/higher_...file_64166.pdf

    Of those core topics listed, I'd covered all of them, and more, by the end of 2nd year (at Leeds uni), which has left room to learn more advanced and interesting 'extra stuff' in 3rd year, for example Lagrangian mechanics, fluid dynamics and advanced quantum mechanics, all of which are surplus to the core requirements set out by the Institute of Physics.

    I've had a look at the UWS undergrad physics page. It looks like it only covers the core topics of physics, so basically it's 100% definitely a physics degree, but a 'bare minimum' one. I notice in 1st year your physics modules cover the 'SQA Advanced Higher syllabus'. I've just had a look at that syllabus and downloaded an example exam paper. It's definitely nowhere near as in-depth as the stuff I did in 1st year. You'll learn stuff in more detail later on though. The point is just that you aren't learning it as quickly as other unis, which doesn't leave much room to learn any wider or specialist material.

    So a physics degree at UWS will cover all the necessary material, but it'll be at a slower rate. This is presumably because there aren't any specialist teachers who can teach any extra topics, so they just spread the course content out.

    Bad news, however, is that in all honesty it might be hard transferring to Glasgow because of the 'weakness' of the material you cover in 1st year. I don't think it'll prepare you enough, at least going by the information on the UWS physics course page.

    Do you have any lecture notes you could send me so I can compare? I've attached a random set of lecture slides from the electromagnetism stuff I did in 1st year. According to the UWS website, you don't do any of that until 3rd year?

    What kind of maths stuff are you learning now? At this point in 1st year I'd done volume integrals in all major co-ordinate systems, and had a good start on Fourier analysis. Have you covered any of that yet? If not, it would probably the major stumbling block when requesting to change to a place like Glasgow.


    And to answer your question about how challenging Strathclyde and Glasgow are - yes they're more challenging but only in the fact that the core course content will be covered more quickly, which opens up more time to do extra specialist topics in 2nd or 3rd year.

    Hope that helps!

    I actually changed unis after 1st year as well, but the one I left was roughly on par with Leeds uni so there was no issue with changing over.
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    (Original post by Pessimisterious)
    I got in a slightly heated discussion about this with someone on here not long ago. We were talking about what makes one uni better than another.

    The thing that separates universities is not the outright difficulty of the material, but in the amount of content they're able to teach you over the time you're there. This is mostly about what professors they have available to teach in specialist topics, or about what funding they can get to employ these professors.

    Basically, physics degrees (or any major subject) have to meet certain specifications to be granted the right to be called an official degree in that subject. So with physics, the core material is set out by the institute of physics - look at pages 8 and 9 of this PDF - http://www.iop.org/education/higher_...file_64166.pdf

    Of those core topics listed, I'd covered all of them, and more, by the end of 2nd year (at Leeds uni), which has left room to learn more advanced and interesting 'extra stuff' in 3rd year, for example Lagrangian mechanics, fluid dynamics and advanced quantum mechanics, all of which are surplus to the core requirements set out by the Institute of Physics.

    I've had a look at the UWS undergrad physics page. It looks like it only covers the core topics of physics, so basically it's 100% definitely a physics degree, but a 'bare minimum' one. I notice in 1st year your physics modules cover the 'SQA Advanced Higher syllabus'. I've just had a look at that syllabus and downloaded an example exam paper. It's definitely nowhere near as in-depth as the stuff I did in 1st year. You'll learn stuff in more detail later on though. The point is just that you aren't learning it as quickly as other unis, which doesn't leave much room to learn any wider or specialist material.

    So a physics degree at UWS will cover all the necessary material, but it'll be at a slower rate. This is presumably because there aren't any specialist teachers who can teach any extra topics, so they just spread the course content out.

    Bad news, however, is that in all honesty it might be hard transferring to Glasgow because of the 'weakness' of the material you cover in 1st year. I don't think it'll prepare you enough, at least going by the information on the UWS physics course page.

    Do you have any lecture notes you could send me so I can compare? I've attached a random set of lecture slides from the electromagnetism stuff I did in 1st year. According to the UWS website, you don't do any of that until 3rd year?

    What kind of maths stuff are you learning now? At this point in 1st year I'd done volume integrals in all major co-ordinate systems, and had a good start on Fourier analysis. Have you covered any of that yet? If not, it would probably the major stumbling block when requesting to change to a place like Glasgow.


    And to answer your question about how challenging Strathclyde and Glasgow are - yes they're more challenging but only in the fact that the core course content will be covered more quickly, which opens up more time to do extra specialist topics in 2nd or 3rd year.

    Hope that helps!

    I actually changed unis after 1st year as well, but the one I left was roughly on par with Leeds uni so there was no issue with changing over.
    The maths we do in class is primarily focused on the foundations of calculus, and types of functions -- really simple stuff. I myself covered the topics you mentioned (volume integrals and fourier analysis), when studying engineering and in my own time but it is not something that's been covered at all in the course itself. I'm also well aware of the work load of students at glasgow university, so I'm not afraid of any "stumbling blocks" and I'm perfectly willing to put the work in. I doubt that will make a bit of difference into the likely-hood of getting transferred however.

    We have covered most of what was in your attached file, so I don't think it's only covered in 3rd year. Perhaps there's more to cover in more detail in 2nd or 3rd year, but all of what was in those notes seems to be in some of our own lecture notes. I could attach some lecture notes, but they're quite lengthy and span multiple files and I don't know if there's a data limit on these posts. Is it possible to send them in a PM on this website or something?

    You mentioned what determines if the course is good, is how much information they can cover when you are there. One thing I've noticed about the classes at UWS is that they're smaller, so the lecturers and professors have been able to spend more time speaking to individual students and helping them with problems, which I initially saw as a useful advantage assuming I was learning the same amount of course content as the other unis, so at the very least that's a good thing.

    I've already emailed Strathclyde, and they've basically confirmed that I won't be able to get 2017 entry into second year, so that's a bummer. I'm still waiting on Glasgow University however.

    Assume I cannot get a transfer for 2017 entry, I could do these two things, if I want to maintain my SAAS funding. Press on and finish my degree at UWS, then leave if I choose to do postgrad to a different university. Is this a sound option? If I pass with high marks, is it likely that I will get a place? Or I can leave at the end of this year and apply for second year entry in 2018 -- a pretty painful option but gives me time to organise, and learn any skills that I've missed and perhaps go ahead of what I need to know. However, I don't see myself being guaranteed entry into second year since I lack high school grades (I have an A for my HNC in mechanical engineering, but past experience indicates this isn't enough).

    edit: thanks for the in depth response, by the way. much more informative than anything I've had from admissions departments x>]
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    (Original post by folluber)
    The maths we do in class is primarily focused on the foundations of calculus, and types of functions -- really simple stuff. I myself covered the topics you mentioned (volume integrals and fourier analysis), when studying engineering and in my own time but it is not something that's been covered at all in the course itself. I'm also well aware of the work load of students at glasgow university, so I'm not afraid of any "stumbling blocks" and I'm perfectly willing to put the work in. I doubt that will make a bit of difference into the likely-hood of getting transferred however.

    We have covered most of what was in your attached file, so I don't think it's only covered in 3rd year. Perhaps there's more to cover in more detail in 2nd or 3rd year, but all of what was in those notes seems to be in some of our own lecture notes. I could attach some lecture notes, but they're quite lengthy and span multiple files and I don't know if there's a data limit on these posts. Is it possible to send them in a PM on this website or something?

    You mentioned what determines if the course is good, is how much information they can cover when you are there. One thing I've noticed about the classes at UWS is that they're smaller, so the lecturers and professors have been able to spend more time speaking to individual students and helping them with problems, which I initially saw as a useful advantage assuming I was learning the same amount of course content as the other unis, so at the very least that's a good thing.

    I've already emailed Strathclyde, and they've basically confirmed that I won't be able to get 2017 entry into second year, so that's a bummer. I'm still waiting on Glasgow University however.

    Assume I cannot get a transfer for 2017 entry, I could do these two things, if I want to maintain my SAAS funding. Press on and finish my degree at UWS, then leave if I choose to do postgrad to a different university. Is this a sound option? If I pass with high marks, is it likely that I will get a place? Or I can leave at the end of this year and apply for second year entry in 2018 -- a pretty painful option but gives me time to organise, and learn any skills that I've missed and perhaps go ahead of what I need to know. However, I don't see myself being guaranteed entry into second year since I lack high school grades (I have an A for my HNC in mechanical engineering, but past experience indicates this isn't enough).

    edit: thanks for the in depth response, by the way. much more informative than anything I've had from admissions departments x>]
    I think the file size limit for attaching PDFs on here is just under 1Mb. I suspect PM attachments have the same constraints!

    Well if you've done Gauss' Law and stuff of that variety, that's a fairly good sign. However the weird lack of mathematics is strange. I wish there was more detailed course/module info on the UWS web page. Do you have any kind of definitive list of specific modules that are available to you during the entire of the course? This is sort of important because often with a university transfer you're asked to provide a transcript, which basically shows the stuff you've studied thus far. If I can see a proper overview of what you definitely cover in 1st year, it'll help with understanding how UWS 1st year compares with other a place like Glasgow.

    Also - why did Strathclyde say you can't transfer? This my shed some light on the issue too.

    About the desire to transfer - If you have no luck with Glasgow, I guess the best option would be to carry on at UWS, get the highest grades you can, and then apply for masters elsewhere when the time comes. I mean, the place will still give you a full physics degree so it's clearly of merit. The only possible problem is in the specialist stuff I alluded to. For example, you'd have a much harder time getting onto a masters in the area of quantum computing if you haven't done courses in photonics or topology, which are optional modules that some universities might not be able to offer.

    Alternatively, maybe wait until your 1st year exams are all complete and grades are released, so then you'll have something tangible to use as ammunition in an application to change unis.
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    (Original post by Pessimisterious)
    I think the file size limit for attaching PDFs on here is just under 1Mb. I suspect PM attachments have the same constraints!

    Well if you've done Gauss' Law and stuff of that variety, that's a fairly good sign. However the weird lack of mathematics is strange. I wish there was more detailed course/module info on the UWS web page. Do you have any kind of definitive list of specific modules that are available to you during the entire of the course? This is sort of important because often with a university transfer you're asked to provide a transcript, which basically shows the stuff you've studied thus far. If I can see a proper overview of what you definitely cover in 1st year, it'll help with understanding how UWS 1st year compares with other a place like Glasgow.

    Also - why did Strathclyde say you can't transfer? This my shed some light on the issue too.

    About the desire to transfer - If you have no luck with Glasgow, I guess the best option would be to carry on at UWS, get the highest grades you can, and then apply for masters elsewhere when the time comes.

    Alternatively, maybe wait until your 1st year exams are all complete and grades are released, so then you'll have something tangible to use as ammunition in an application to change unis.
    I don't think the lack of mathematics is strange, because a lot of the students in my class are quite new to the concepts themselves.

    Here is a description of the course modules. Do you have anything I can compare this to?
    http://psmd.uws.ac.uk/UGProgrammes/U...upCode=UG00337

    Strathclyde said I can't transfer because there simply wouldn't have been enough spaces for a Scottish student, which is unfortunate and there won't be any spaces available in clearing apparently either. I appreciated the swift response though.

    If going to another uni after I've finished my degree at UWS is a viable option, then I'm ok with that. It means I can focus on areas of weakness, areas I want to improve in, and areas of specific interests in my own time, where the work load would have been if I was at glasgow university anyway, and gives me extra incentive to self-study anyway.
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    (Original post by folluber)
    I don't think the lack of mathematics is strange, because a lot of the students in my class are quite new to the concepts themselves.

    Here is a description of the course modules. Do you have anything I can compare this to?
    http://psmd.uws.ac.uk/UGProgrammes/U...upCode=UG00337

    Strathclyde said I can't transfer because there simply wouldn't have been enough spaces for a Scottish student, which is unfortunate and there won't be any spaces available in clearing apparently either. I appreciated the swift response though.

    If going to another uni after I've finished my degree at UWS is a viable option, then I'm ok with that. It means I can focus on areas of weakness, areas I want to improve in, and areas of specific interests in my own time, where the work load would have been if I was at glasgow university anyway, and gives me extra incentive to self-study anyway.
    Well yeah it'll all be new stuff for any new student fresh from college or 6th form, but I thought you said you'd not done anything like multiple integrals or fourier analysis yet? What about vector calculus? Didn't you say your course content has barely used calculus so far? Typically the first differential equation that physics undergrads see applied to physics is the wave equation representing simple harmonic motion. Have you seen and solved that yet?

    That link you've given is still quite sparse on info. Here's a thing for you to compare with my uni: http://webprod3.leeds.ac.uk/catalogu...17&P=MPBS-PHYS

    The main thing worth noting is the extensive amount of optional modules available in later years of the degree. This is the thing which I believe sets universities apart and is also why some go at a faster pace in years 1 and 2 - allowing more time to teach specialist modules later.

    To be honest actually I think the main thing holding you back now is that you haven't completed 1st year yet, so you have no way of proving anything about yourself. If you ace 1st year, it would certainly demonstrate the potential to study at whatever pace Glasgow or Strathclyde go at. However, course content is another issue - if you haven't studied enough because of UWS's slower pace, it could be problematic.

    EDIT: Yeah staying at UWS is definitely a viable option too. Although it again goes back round to the seeming lack of specialist or advanced content, which could limit the places at which you can apply for a masters. Generally it should be fine though.
 
 
 
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