“I would definitely recommend doing an MPhys programme: I think it is the best way to learn your subject, regardless of your future career ambitions.”
I’ve always been keen on physics and astronomy, and chose Surrey because it hosts a steadily growing research group in astrophysics. Also, the MPhys Physics with Astronomy programme seemed to be a good opportunity to lead my studies in the direction of research.
One of the best things about my course is the research placement which you can undertake at a national laboratory or private company in the UK or abroad.
Coming from Russia I was keen to experience another European country in addition to the UK, and I chose to spend my placement at the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canaries (the Institute of Astrophysics in Spain, based in Tenerife). My tutors at Surrey helped me to apply for Erasmus funding for my placement, and have been on hand for help and advice throughout.
I’m now halfway through my research placement and I’ve already benefited from it greatly in terms of my knowledge and skills. It has given me an idea of what it is like to work as a researcher and an insight into a specific area of astrophysics. The group I’m currently working in is developing methods of obtaining the history of how galaxies are formed using the Hubble Space Telescope, and using this to investigate a local group of galaxies.
The highlight of my placement has been the opportunity to go to two observatories situated on the Canary Islands. It has also been very exciting to meet scientists whose names I have often heard during my lectures at Surrey.
During my placement I’ve improved my computing and statistical analysis skills, gained a lot of theoretical knowledge in astrophysics, and developed my skills in presentation and networking. I’ve also got the chance to learn a new language.
I would definitely recommend doing an MPhys programme: I think it is the best way to learn your subject, regardless of your future career ambitions. If you’re self-motivated and ready for hard work, with the set of skills you acquire during your first two years at the University you will greatly improve your personal and academic life experience during your research year.
After I’ve successfully completed my MPhys programme I’m planning to build my research skills further and hopefully return to the Institute of Astrophysics in a PhD position.