Tom Crane MPhys Physics with a Year of Experimental Research, 2016
Physicist, UK defence sector
I chose to study at Southampton because it has one of the best physics departments in the UK. It has high research ratings and strong links with industry.
I was particularly attracted by the Physics and Astronomy department’s flagship programmes which offer students the chance to spend their final year working within a research group. This is a fantastic way to gain experience and also enhance your CV.
I was particularly attracted by the Physics and Astronomy department’s flagship programmes which offer students the chance to spend their final year working within a research group. This is a fantastic way to gain experience which will also enhance your CV.
The department and University have excellent facilities – the undergraduate labs are well equipped and have great support staff.
Southampton has a lovely campus and nice accommodation. The city itself has plenty of things to do and has good transportation links.
Gaining a competitive advantage
The Physics with a Year of Experimental Research programme gave me the opportunity to spend my final year working within a research group, giving me a wealth of experience and skills. I used the University’s high-performance computing facilities to run simulations and worked within the multi-million pound Southampton Nanofabrication Centre. My degree also enabled me to present my work at scientific conferences and to subsequently publish several journal articles with my supervisor – not something that undergraduates typically do.
The programme helped me to develop the skills and knowledge of a professional physicist and gave me a competitive advantage when applying for jobs and scholarships.
My Southampton highlights
A major highlight for me was my final year research project, which involved the development of a novel type of integrated photonic device that manipulates visible light at the nanoscale. It has a range of real-world applications, from efficient solar energy collection, to sensing, and the development of quantum information technology.
In the summer following my second year I undertook a SEPnet placement at the University of Sussex in the Ion Quantum Technology group. The work placement was an incredibly valuable experience. It allowed me to apply the skills and knowledge I had gained during my degree and taught me many more things.
Another highlight was the Physoc trip to the CMS experiment at CERN. We were given a tour of the facilities and attended a talk by a member of the research staff. We also had the opportunity to explore Geneva.
Working in the UK defence sector
I’m currently working in the UK defence sector, applying the knowledge and skills gained during my degree to real-world problems. It’s great to continue learning about my subject and to enhance and develop the problem solving skills used throughout my degree. I’m also really enjoying having the opportunity to travel within the UK and abroad.
Advice for physics students
Despite what you’ll hear many students say, your first year is definitely important! Whilst it may not count towards your final classification, it will help you to form good studying habits and lay the foundations for later years.
Don’t be afraid to approach your lecturers if you’re struggling with a particular topic or problem. Whilst professors are busy people, they are happy to spare time for a student needing help.
I would really recommend the University of Southampton for anyone interested in studying physics. The teaching staff are excellent, the facilities are world class, and there are a tremendous number of opportunities available.