I've now started sending out e-mails to potential supervisors, aiming to start a PhD after this coming academic year (my final year of a 4-year u/g M.Sci).
From reading what all of you have written up here over time, I thought this was a good way to start, ahead of formally applying. For the moment, is this enough? Is there anything more I can be doing?
Also, does anyone know if theoretical physics (quantum information) is a particularly hard field to get into?
I'm finding all this rather daunting! :) It's like applying for University when I was at school, but without UCAS to help me!
Sounds like at this stage you are doing the right thing. Although this is not what I did to be honest.
I'm a chemist, and so similarly to physics, there do tend to be a decent amount of projects around. You need to be a little flexible though. For example, PhD projects may be sponsored by a company, and so have a real-life application, these projects are very good to do as the structure is more or less in place. This obviously doesn't allow you to do whatever the hell you like though.
Look at the current projects on this site, and you will get an idea of what will be around next year too. Also my babbling about flexibility may become clearer, as by that I meant you can do a more chemistry or engineering focused PhD using your Physics degree.
you might want to check out these links
http://cam.qubit.org/ (look under further information, jobs, for a pretty bleak outlook (before I saw this page I thought that this group would have bucketloads of studentships to give out)
(I guess the speakers at this event would be potential supervisors)
Quantum physics, and especially QI is quite mathsy anyway.
Wasn't thinking of applying to Cambridge particularly! Thanks for the advice so far - I'm just a bit edgy because noone replies to my e-mails. Even the Professor at my current Uni, who I have seen around so know that he's in, hasn't replied.
Oh well, I'm probably just being impatient, right?
It is the holiday season at the moment so many will be away. Also, they get deluged everyday by students asking about PhDs (mostly from abroad) so your email probably got lost in the daily noise.
In your email say that you'd like to ring them to talk about things. As first impressions count make you're well prepared with a list of questions before you do. There's no hurry at the moment, Sept/Oct time will be fine. Obviously, main Research council funding season is Feb-Apr. What caught me out was the amount of work it takes to create a single application and I wrote 6 in 6 weeks! It consumes almost all of your study time as you invariably have to spend time preparing a short literature review (this is actually quite a large task).
So expect your academic studies to suffer over that period. With that in mind, try to get as much of your studies done as possible before the main season gets going, it'll make life a heck of a lot easier.
Thanks for that advice sylvester: that's useful to know!
Seeing as I haven't offered phonecalls in the e-mails that I sent out, do people think I should leave it for a while, then email again, with this offer included? I obviously don't want to seem excessively pushy!
The list of currently-funded EPSRC quantum information projects are at Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, Nottingham, Royal Holloway, Imperial, Bristol, Sussex, Leeds, City University, Southampton...oh, the list's too long. You can read it all yourself at http://gow.epsrc.ac.uk/ChooseTTS.aspx?Mode=Topic&Id=351&col=TotalValue&ord=desc
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