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Chemistry Research, Durham University
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Lancaster vs Durham advice

Any advice on which is better for MPhys, study abroad options and accommodation in general? Have both offers and both have pros and cons so really sitting on fence
Original post by Anonymous
Any advice on which is better for MPhys, study abroad options and accommodation in general? Have both offers and both have pros and cons so really sitting on fence

Coming from someone in Durham who has about three friends in Lancaster, the general student experience seems to be far better. People come out of Lancs feeling far more mentally well and satisfied than they do at Durham. Lancs also has cheaper accommodation with better facilities, but it's shared with more people (e.g. Durham will have 1 cooker & fridge for six people, Lancaster will have 2 cookers/fridges that are better quality but for twelve).
I can't really comment on the quality of the physics program because I don't know anyone who does it at either uni. Study abroad places at Durham are pretty slim pickings, most courses only have about 10-20 places, so if you're on a more popular course (like Physics) you have very little chance of getting onto one, but it's not impossible. However, if you're planning on going further out than the EU for an abroad year (like to US/Canada), it's even worse, there's the same number of spots but for the entire university.
Chemistry Research, Durham University
Durham University
Durham
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That’s helpful. The confusion also lies in the offer grades. Durham A*A*A and Lancaster AAA which seems to suggest Durham is better?
Everyone says to put your higher offer as firm choice but I feel the UCAS system could be flawed there. I wish you could just choose 2 and decide on results day by which time you would have had time to mull things over without exam stress.
Reply 3
Offer grades - especially where they are pretty close - are a terrible way to figure out which course is stronger.

Universities have been known to inflate their asking grades to make the course look more attractive. They then accept people with lower grades on results day.
Original post by ajj2000
Offer grades - especially where they are pretty close - are a terrible way to figure out which course is stronger.
Universities have been known to inflate their asking grades to make the course look more attractive. They then accept people with lower grades on results day.

I guess the trouble is you have to put your firm choice as the high offer and the insurance as the lower offer as tbe only sensible way to secure 2 options. Unless you just put the low offer offer as the firm and take exam stress away…while still working to achieve 3 A* as hopefully capable of.
Original post by anonymous
Any advice on which is better for MPhys, study abroad options and accommodation in general? Have both offers and both have pros and cons so really sitting on fence
My daughter is a 4th year Mphys student (has gone down the module route of particle physics and cosmology). She has had the best experience at Lancaster. She didnt get into Oxford and in hindsight, she is so so glad she didnt as she knows she would have had serious burnout. At Lancaster shes attended a few careers fairs, done two internships (first year voluntary/Second year paid). They have provided consistant support when she had a tough second year (personal physical reasons). So much so, she came out with a first in 3rd year and now sits at a 2:1. Also they provided support for her applications in phd research which shes got a place at Manchester (providing she gets the 2:1 of course).
Lancaster physics department has been superb. The help is there if you ask for it. Your supervisors, and lecturers at Lancaster alwasy welcome students at their office, and have workshops and revision sessions. Shes got a revision session tomorrow for her final exam. Not sure on a study abroad, but for two of her friends when doing a masters thesis, it was with working with a company with a grad job at the end of it.

Third year you go in a group of 6, and do a project. It has a write up, and also a presentation. Fourth year is the masters thesis (dissertation) and at this point the physics knowledge is there to lead it yourself, with support from your supervisor at various sessions.

The city, Durham is a bigger city id say, but its cheaper in accommodation at Lancaster and also your not queuing for hours in the night at a letting agents trying to find a place (https://thetab.com/uk/durham/2022/10/18/durham-students-left-to-sleep-on-the-streets-overnight-to-sign-houses-during-housing-crisis-50893) . This was at the time in 2022, so im hoping they have changed and theres no longer a mad rush (sorry Durham). This was the report in 2023. No overnight queuing this time https://thetab.com/uk/durham/2023/11/02/durham-students-are-physically-racing-for-accommodation-despite-code-of-practice-53213 , this one says roughly how much it is. Lancaster you still need to find a place, but come Mid January the city still has accommodation available still, and private halls still has places we noticed.

She has done Grizedale Townhouse first year (£133 in 2020 44 weeks). Second year Landlord owned accommodation through a letting agents in the city in a grade 2 listed 4 storey flat in the city (£105 for 51 weeks). Third year she was in private halls in the city ensuite in a flat of 12 (£142 for 44 weeks). Fourth year she is in uni owned accomodation (chancellors wharf) in the city facing the canal in shared accommodation (£134 for 43 weeks).
(edited 1 month ago)
Original post by Vida Lein
That’s helpful. The confusion also lies in the offer grades. Durham A*A*A and Lancaster AAA which seems to suggest Durham is better?
Everyone says to put your higher offer as firm choice but I feel the UCAS system could be flawed there. I wish you could just choose 2 and decide on results day by which time you would have had time to mull things over without exam stress.

Agreed. If a uni has higher grades, its not necessarily the better uni. Like Leicester example for space physics was ABB, but they was better when it came to their niche subject and had the contacts and the reputation for that subject. A uni could probably have higher grades as more people are competing for places. Or they could well be the better uni and can put their grade bounderies as high as they want, knowing people will still apply.
Original post by Ghostlady
Agreed. If a uni has higher grades, its not necessarily the better uni. Like Leicester example for space physics was ABB, but they was better when it came to their niche subject and had the contacts and the reputation for that subject. A uni could probably have higher grades as more people are competing for places. Or they could well be the better uni and can put their grade bounderies as high as they want, knowing people will still apply.

This confirms my suspicions. If only things were more straightforward! Thank you so very much for taking the time to reply. Very much appreciated. :smile:
Original post by Ghostlady
My daughter is a 4th year Mphys student (has gone down the module route of particle physics and cosmology). She has had the best experience at Lancaster. She didnt get into Oxford and in hindsight, she is so so glad she didnt as she knows she would have had serious burnout. At Lancaster shes attended a few careers fairs, done two internships (first year voluntary/Second year paid). They have provided consistant support when she had a tough second year (personal physical reasons). So much so, she came out with a first in 3rd year and now sits at a 2:1. Also they provided support for her applications in phd research which shes got a place at Manchester (providing she gets the 2:1 of course).
Lancaster physics department has been superb. The help is there if you ask for it. Your supervisors, and lecturers at Lancaster alwasy welcome students at their office, and have workshops and revision sessions. Shes got a revision session tomorrow for her final exam. Not sure on a study abroad, but for two of her friends when doing a masters thesis, it was with working with a company with a grad job at the end of it.
Third year you go in a group of 6, and do a project. It has a write up, and also a presentation. Fourth year is the masters thesis (dissertation) and at this point the physics knowledge is there to lead it yourself, with support from your supervisor at various sessions.
The city, Durham is a bigger city id say, but its cheaper in accommodation at Lancaster and also your not queuing for hours in the night at a letting agents trying to find a place (https://thetab.com/uk/durham/2022/10/18/durham-students-left-to-sleep-on-the-streets-overnight-to-sign-houses-during-housing-crisis-50893) . This was at the time in 2022, so im hoping they have changed and theres no longer a mad rush (sorry Durham). This was the report in 2023. No overnight queuing this time https://thetab.com/uk/durham/2023/11/02/durham-students-are-physically-racing-for-accommodation-despite-code-of-practice-53213 , this one says roughly how much it is. Lancaster you still need to find a place, but come Mid January the city still has accommodation available still, and private halls still has places we noticed.
She has done Grizedale Townhouse first year (£133 in 2020 44 weeks). Second year Landlord owned accommodation through a letting agents in the city in a grade 2 listed 4 storey flat in the city (£105 for 51 weeks). Third year she was in private halls in the city ensuite in a flat of 12 (£142 for 44 weeks). Fourth year she is in uni owned accomodation (chancellors wharf) in the city facing the canal in shared accommodation (£134 for 43 weeks).

Super helpful yet again, thank you very much for your valuable insights.
Did your daughter have a nice room and good flatmates while on campus? A townhouse sounds like the most appealing option.
Thanks so much for the course description you. It was nice hearing first hand. The pathway system certainly sounds like you c as n concentrate early on on tbd things you are interested in.
Btw other offer option for MPhys is Edin Uni. Also very attractive in terms of course content and year abroad but it’s an extra year.
I expect that there will also be a different feel to whole student experience though the physics dept there is in a leafy suburb south of busy city centre. Any thoughts for that?
Original post by Vida Lein
Super helpful yet again, thank you very much for your valuable insights.
Did your daughter have a nice room and good flatmates while on campus? A townhouse sounds like the most appealing option.
She was in the 2020 covid restriction intake. She was determined to go and not take a gap year. Shes an introvert but purposely chose a Townhouse due to them being a flat of 12, and if you cant socialise between flat, then the bigger the flat, the better was her thinking at the time lol. They had an amazing time. Despite no flat mixing, they had a theme night most weekends. Plus a movie night (they all chipped in with a projector). Their flat was one of the first to turn their townhouse into a themed bar. With her blue fairly lights, hers was an 'ice bar'. So a 'bar crawl' was taken. Shes tee- total and doesnt drink and was more than happy with soft drinks and the others were very understanding. She also was on facebook freshers group and got added in whatsapp/snapchat and ended up in a physics group chat, and they did a few quizzes on teams before uni started. So when they got there, she met up with them for 'walks' in groups of 6 lol.
The room itself is pretty decent. The wardrobe is one of the biggest. but its only got one drawer attached to the desk, so she got herself a 3 drawer plastic drawer set and used that to put in her smalls and fancy dress outfits and things like hair dryer and make up. the wardrobe also has a mirror. She was above the kitchen/living room area and her floor shared with 3 girls. 2 more floors of 4 was above her. Her floor had two bathrooms and she shared with a girl who was doing biochemistry. They came up with a rule that you use your shared bathroom with the room next to you, but should any bathroom be taken (which was rare), you can use the other bathroom on that floor. theres also a toilet on the lower floor as well if anyone gets caught short.

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