I am new to this forum and this is my first post. I am in a dilema and need some assistance. I have been offered a PhD at Birmingham in an interesting subject area but I have also been offered a PhD at Cambridge. Whilst I think that the Birmingham PhD is a better topic, obviously Cambridge has the prestige. When I come to apply for a job which do you think will matter more? the PhD topic or the University?
There is no hard and fast answer for this.
I had a similar problem in that I was offered 3 studentships, one of which was at Cambridge. I took the Cambridge offer even though I new very little about the topic and hadn't met the supervisor. I knew I was taking a risk and it did backfire
I ended up hating the topic and my supervisor wasnt very supportive when I needed his guidance so I dropped out after getting mauled in my first year review.
My advice to you is go with the topic you enjoy the most and the supervisor you think you will work well with. If this is at Birmingham then study there.
If you take the Cambridge offer, it sounds like you be doing it so as to have cambridge on your CV rather than working on a research problem you really enjoy.
Don't get me wrong Cambridge is a really nice place to work and live but I would advise you to only accept the offer if it is a topic you really like.
4 years is a long time to spend working on something you don't really like, hence why I have taken early retirement from my PhD studies
Prestige of the uni you do your PhD at is important but it depends on what you plan on doing after your PhD. If you are planning on a career in academia then I would say having published in well respected journals are much more important than having gone to a presitious university.
To be Fair Birmingham still is a very good university and area to live in and i don't relish your position with having to choose.
As mentioned before it is 3-4 years of your life on a topic you will no doubt have to be interested in in order to go the distance. If you are hard working and ambitious and want to carve out a career for yourself in Physics then it will be down to you and you alone.
If you feel that Cambridge will provide the environment, support and follow through to let you complete you PhD regardless of topic and supervisor and 'you' feel it is worth the risk then take it.
If you feel you can make it without the 'prestige' of cambridge by going to Birmingham which is still a good university and feel you will enjoy the topic more then go for that one :).
Good luck regardless.
Regards Mike F
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