Physics PhD with Masters Distinction but 2.2 Bachelors?

21-Jul-20, 12:10
edited about 8 seconds later
Avatar for unimaginative_username_1
posted about 3 weeks ago
I'm sure you're all fed up of the threads like this but if at all possible I'd like some entirely honest input, don't be afraid to say it as candidly as you can

Went from being a good student up until university, I got into a top 5 UK university, then my bachelor's went catastrophically If anything I would attribute it to family and financial issues but I don't want to seem like I'm making excuses on my applications as these are vague enough that anyone could claim it. Even during this terrible undergrad, I got consistently high marks in the research modules (All 1st's). Because of this and a recommendation from one of my old supervisors I was able to get into a taught masters program at an equally good university (I figured a change of scenery would do me well) and so far things have actually been going so much better.

I'm nearing the end of the Masters now, just in the final stages of submitting my thesis and it looks like I'm on track for a distinction( 1st class equiv). Seeing all the graduates in physics who have high 1st's and were consistently top of the class struggling with Ph.D.'s makes me wonder about my chances. On top of that, due to the family financial issues I'd mentioned above all 3 summers at university I had to work almost full time and couldn't partake in any internships as most don't pay much if at all so I don't have that to my name either.

My target fields are High-Energy Physics or Astrophysics but I know these are among the most competitive. What are my chances and any advice on how to catch admissions staff's attention despite my poor undergrad
21-Jul-20, 22:36
edited about 9 seconds later
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 2 weeks ago
Honestly, I don't think the 2:2 at undergrad is that bad if you have a first from your masters. Your masters is more relevant and should get you an interview. The interview is were a lot of PhD applications are decided and your CV/refernces only need to be good enough to get the interview. A few people have asked this question beforehand and usually they were asked about the 2:2. You will need a good answer to explain why you only got a 2:2 but your masters is vastly more relevant than your undergrad.
22-Jul-20, 15:45
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 weeks ago
Firstly, I would say that there is no such thing as a "top 5 uni".
You either went to Oxbridge which is worthy of mention, or you went to one of the rest., which isn't worth mentioning.
A 2:2 from your uni is the same as a 2:2 from almost anywhere else so you may as well own that straight away.

Secondly, the good news is that your Masters makes your undergrad degree redundant so forget about anything but getting a distinction here.

Thirdly, if you are excelling at experimental work and your PhD is also experimental then you are in a strong position.
If you need some theory for your PhD you should make sure you plug any gaps from undergrad which the masters didn't cover.

I have to say, it sounds like you're in good shape to recover from the 2:2 so good luck.


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