The Student Room Group

st andrews vs durham for physics?

I have an offer for astrophysics bsc at st andrews and I am an english student, and I'm waiting on durham. assuming I get an offer from durham, I am torn as to what uni I should firm/insure? st andrews is supposed to be really elite for undergrad, but it doesn't do very well on international rankings and the physics department has dropped in rankings, from 2nd to 9th? durham is collegiate which I prefer, and they are currently 3rd for physics. I'm also concerned about ending up living in dundee after my first year at st andrews because of the lack of housing. I don't really know which uni is better and would like some insight. I've visited both and like the look of the unis equally.
(edited 2 months ago)
Original post by sandrasandi
I have an offer for astrophysics bsc at st andrews and I am an english student, and I'm waiting on durham. assuming I get an offer from durham, I am torn as to what uni I should firm/insure? st andrews is supposed to be really elite for undergrad, but it doesn't do very well on international rankings and the physics department has dropped in rankings, from 2nd to 9th? durham is collegiate which I prefer, and they are currently 3rd for physics. I'm also concerned about ending up living in dundee after my first year at st andrews because of the lack of housing. I don't really know which uni is better and would like some insight. I've visited both and like the look of the unis equally.

I'm from London and i had to choose between these two unis so i can answer :smile:

1.

You won't have to live in Dundee, that was just an issue when COVID meant predicted grades were certified so everyone got As and the uni was oversubscribed. However, Durham will be better for housing - it is a more working class town (St Andrews is the richest place in Scotland) so Durham will be significantly cheaper. there is indeed stress involved in trying to find your ideal flat for second year onwards at St Andrews

2.

the whole Durham collegiate thing is a bit fake, they're not real colleges like Oxbridge, they're basically glorified halls. Van Mildert is a lot like Andrew Melville Hall

3.

no one cares about international rankings because unlike domestic rankings they focus on metrics that are more important to research. St Andrews is really well known in the states and elsewhere both unis have a similar rep, no employer will know or care which uni is #95 and which is #90 in the world

4.

St Andrews is real international experience (20% American students, really well integrated Asians, A list celebs in town for the golf etc.), Durham is more of an English experience - Castle College would be amazing though and if i could have guaranteed it i'd have been tempted!

5.

the most important thing is St Andrews 4 year structure (3 subjects in first year) vs Durham's 3. what would you prefer

Reply 2
Original post by A Rolling Stone
I'm from London and i had to choose between these two unis so i can answer :smile:

1.

You won't have to live in Dundee, that was just an issue when COVID meant predicted grades were certified so everyone got As and the uni was oversubscribed. However, Durham will be better for housing - it is a more working class town (St Andrews is the richest place in Scotland) so Durham will be significantly cheaper. there is indeed stress involved in trying to find your ideal flat for second year onwards at St Andrews

2.

the whole Durham collegiate thing is a bit fake, they're not real colleges like Oxbridge, they're basically glorified halls. Van Mildert is a lot like Andrew Melville Hall

3.

no one cares about international rankings because unlike domestic rankings they focus on metrics that are more important to research. St Andrews is really well known in the states and elsewhere both unis have a similar rep, no employer will know or care which uni is #95 and which is #90 in the world

4.

St Andrews is real international experience (20% American students, really well integrated Asians, A list celebs in town for the golf etc.), Durham is more of an English experience - Castle College would be amazing though and if i could have guaranteed it i'd have been tempted!

5.

the most important thing is St Andrews 4 year structure (3 subjects in first year) vs Durham's 3. what would you prefer


thank you this is really insightful
Original post by sandrasandi
thank you this is really insightful

no worries! curious to know if i've help swayed you as i've tried hard to put aside any bias haha
Reply 4
Original post by A Rolling Stone
no worries! curious to know if i've help swayed you as i've tried hard to put aside any bias haha

you've defo given me more reason to choose sta lol tho I will still need to think about it
Couple of questions for both posters, please. I have offers from STA and Durham for physics...Is the classroom learning experience diff between these two unis? Is teaching better at one than the other? And do you know the difference between acceptance to astrophysics program and regular physics program? I got accepted into STA physics but applied for astrophysics..not sure why. Appreciate any help
Original post by lynnfrancis
Couple of questions for both posters, please. I have offers from STA and Durham for physics...Is the classroom learning experience diff between these two unis? Is teaching better at one than the other? And do you know the difference between acceptance to astrophysics program and regular physics program? I got accepted into STA physics but applied for astrophysics..not sure why. Appreciate any help

Heyy would you mind me asking what your predicted grades were as I’ve also applied for St. Andrews for astrophysics and am waiting to hear back
Original post by Anonymous37296
Heyy would you mind me asking what your predicted grades were as I’ve also applied for St. Andrews for astrophysics and am waiting to hear back

43 IB,,,i didn't get into astro..just into physics
Reply 8
Durham. Nice modern Physics building (St Andrews' appears to be a typical late 60s/early 70s building. I don't mind the functional style but it won't be regarded by many as fancy.). Both about as well regarded as each other (their research quality for all subjects on average is exactly the same) Newcastle is just 30 minutes by car from Durham. Coincidentally, Dundee is 30 minutes from St Andrews. More to do in Durham. More international students (about 40%) at St Andrews (about 22% at Durham) and obviously more Scottish students there than at Durham. Will take a year less at Durham. Double the students at Durham (approx 20,000) than at St Andrews (approx 10,000).

nb. What is the empirical evidence that St Andrews is really elite at undergraduate level? Compared to Durham anyway? If the numbers of privately educated students drawn to and accepted to a place is one barometer of prestige, St Andrews had 40% in the most recent data I can find. Durham had 39%. St Andrews has quite a gender gap - approx 58% of students are female, 42% male. At Durham it's 54% female and 46%.
League tables about claimed entry grades cannot be relied upon as they favour students with Scottish Highers, since they take more of them as standard than English pupils take A-Levels. According to their websites, Durham asks for higher grades for this subject than St Andrews.

St Andrews University and Durham University do have different kinds of beauty to each other. Durham University is really scattered around and would take ages to get from a college on one side to another, although the older colleges, mostly in converted Georgian buildings, are nearly all close to each other. St Andrews does stand out more in photos and videos as an ancient university- it's over 400 years older for a start. However nice to look at, it is not necessarily everyone's cup of tea to live there for 4 or 5 years (Durham would take a year less). But, then, nor is Durham or anywhere else.
(edited 3 weeks ago)

Quick Reply

Latest

Trending

Trending