Does it matter which university you study physics at?

  • Helena Kudiabor
  • Mar 31 2023

Whether you’re applying for a physics course, or have already started your degree, you’ve probably wondered which university provides the best physics course. While some universities offer more prestige, making the most of the course is just as important.


Which are the best universities to study physics at?

There is no university which guarantees students an excellent experience. While some universities are more prestigious and thus offer greater opportunities, this doesn’t guarantee that you’ll enjoy your time there. While attending a university that’s higher up the league tables has its advantages, someone who studies physics at the top ranked university may not enjoy their experience as much as someone whose university is ranked 100.

Can a company reject my application based on the university I attended?

While a select number of companies may look upon graduates from more prestigious universities more favourably, this is by no means the norm. Most companies base their decisions on your work experience, your grades and your passion for the company. In fact, a company is more likely to reject your application based on your grades, which brings us to… 

Making the most of your physics degree

Imagine a leading physics organisation is looking to hire recent graduates. They are currently deciding between two candidates: Candidate A and Candidate B. Candidate A graduated from a university in the top five, but received a 2:2. They have also completed a week of work experience. Candidate B’s university is ranked 50th, but they graduated with a 2:1. While they have a week of work experience, they also got involved with their university’s physics society, and became secretary in their final year. 

The organisation would be more likely to hire Candidate B. Although they didn’t attend a super prestigious university, they made the most of their experience at university, and came out with better grades.

Here are some ways you can make the most of your degree:

Staying on top of your studies: While it’s important to maintain a work-life balance, it’s just as important to stay on top of your assignments. Make sure you submit your assignments on time and complete your homework or further reading before the lecture. Remember that it’s okay to speak to your professor or graduate teaching assistant if you’re struggling with a topic, they’ll be more than happy to help.

Join a society: Getting involved in a society is a great way to meet new people and learn new skills. Even if it’s not a topic unrelated to physics (i.e first aid or sign language), you’ll gain a number of transferable skills. Furthermore, why not join your university’s STEM or physics society? This will allow you to get to know students who share your interest in physics, and attend networking with industry professionals. 

Work experience: Your holidays are a great opportunity to learn more about the physics industry and get some work experience. Work experience shows to employers that you’re passionate about the subject and are interested in pursuing it further. If you can’t secure work experience, you can read up on a topic you’re interested in or connect with professionals you admire.