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physics degrees: 3 or 4 year, work placements, year abroad?

(11 Posts)
purplegreen99 Tue 30-May-17 13:04:04

DD is just starting to look at university courses. She wants to do physics, and lots of universities offer a range of courses e.g. 3 year BSc, 4 year MPhys and courses with options for work placements or study abroad. I am assuming work or study abroad might enhance her employability, but not sure if a 4 year undergraduate masters degree has the same value as a postgrad masters? I am hoping someone here can help me with some pros and cons of the different course types.

bojorojo Tue 30-May-17 13:34:12

No. Masters Undergrad is not the same as post grad regarding further study. Normally!

I think that study abroad is done in an English speaking university and says a lot about a student. They have bothered to do something out of the box. I amnot usre how easy it is to get work experience here and I have heard that students worry about this because some universities do not have enough links with industry to provide the placements.

It really depends how much she values a year abroad, how adventurous she is and whether the university has empoyers who offer suitable placements. Is she capable of finding her own if she needs to? The advanatage of a 3 year degree, is that you can choose the masters you want after the BSc and specialise. Some people just prefer 3 years to 4. My friend's DS originally wanted a 4 year MMath, but decided to go after 3 years andtrainto be a teacher. Often there is flexibility to change from 3 to 4.

museumum Tue 30-May-17 13:35:38

An Mphys is not the same as a post graduate masters but it will lead more easily into a research MSc or directly to PhD in some cases.

CMOTDibbler Tue 30-May-17 13:46:37

I think it depends on whether your dd knows what she'd like to specialise in tbh. Committing to a 4 year degree and deciding that you really want to do medical physics rather than pure after 2, and having to stick with it would be a pita. Or having to take the work placement on offer, rather than what you are particularly interested in.

I did a 3 year BSc, then an MSc in the specialism I wanted to work in at another university

purplegreen99 Tue 30-May-17 14:14:31

Thank you bojo, museum and CMOT - that's all very helpful. Tbh I don't think dd would be very proactive about getting a good work placement, so maybe that's not a good route for her. I think she would enjoy studying abroad so that could be good option. She talks about doing postgrad study but not sure how sure she is about the areas that interest her - she probably needs to look at the courses for different unis and see which ones are strongest in the areas she prefers.

CMOTDibbler Tue 30-May-17 14:46:18

She could always think about doing her postgrad abroad if that appeals. I do a lot of work with a group in Maastricht and they always have loads of international postgrad students as its very english speaking friendly.

If she doesn't know what she'd like to do, then focussing on finding a good general course somewhere she likes is the main thing.

Wecks Tue 30-May-17 16:42:39

When she goes on open days she should ask questions about the flexibility of the 4 year course. Can she switch back to the three year course if she chooses after a year or two.
When DS was looking at science courses there was a big push for students to apply for the 4 year course. He looked at the fourth year content and was quite sure it wasn't for him. The option of a year in industry or a year abroad is often open to all, maybe she could do her first year and see where her interests lie? Again, a good question to ask at open day.

titchy Tue 30-May-17 19:04:16

Make sure whatever the final choice it's accredited by the institute of physics.

purplegreen99 Tue 30-May-17 21:21:57

THank you everyone. Will definitely suggest that dd asks about switching between 3 and 4 year courses at open days, and I have printed out the list of Institute of Physics accredited courses for her.

sendsummer Tue 30-May-17 23:03:44

Purplegreen the 'M' part of a science degree (4th year if not going abroad) will have a research project. By doing a 4 year MPhys the fees will be less than doing a separate Masters (as the former has undergraduate rather than postgraduate fees). That is why most students opt for a 4 year MSc when applying. However the 4th year or a year abroad depends on the grades of the year before plus as said in PPs, students will change their minds nearer the time so it is unusual not to have flexibility to switch in either direction at the decision time point during the course.

bojorojo Wed 31-May-17 09:46:45

I think another aspect of choosing what to do is that your ideas and interests change. A levels are just the start of a whole new world of Physics so she may not know yet where her talents and interests lie.

We visited an ancient university when DD was in y12 and DD was horrified to think she may have to study medieval French. Fast forward 4 years and she chose that option and was asked if she wanted to stay on and do a masters in literature of the crusades! You just never know!

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