This is Part 1 of a series I’m writing about the courses I took as part of my undergraduate and masters degree at Oxford. This part will outline what courses I took, where the flexibility for choice was, and some thoughts about the system as a whole. In future segments I’ll dive into my thoughts on every single one of these courses. This is not meant to be a review of the course as a whole, but rather my personal thoughts on the subjects, how they were taught, and how useful they’ve been to me.

The Oxford System

Oxford university is broken into a system of ~40 colleges, (EXPLAIN COLLEGES). A common misundertanding I come across, particularly when explaining this to people from the US, is that the colleges aren’t split according to subject. There isn’t a “physics college” and a “history college,” each college hosts students from (more or less) every subject.

My degrees are a BA in Physics and a masters in Mathematical and Theoretical Physics. When I enrolled at Oxford, I was registered on the MPhys (Master of Physics) 4 year course. The reason for this is that you could not directly join onto the theoretical physics course from the beginning, you have to reapply for that course during your 3rd year of study. So for the first 3 years, I had the same requirements as everyone who went on to do the 4 year physics course. The first 2 years are the same for everyone, whether they’re doing the 3 or 4 year course.

These are the courses I took each year. Notice that nearly all of them were compulsary courses until 4th year. This is slight unusual for physics courses in the UK, at least from what I’ve seen comapring my course to friends of mine.

Year 1

Compulsary

Optional

Year 2

Compulsary

Optional

Year 3

Compulsary

Optional

Year 4 (no compulsary courses in MMathPhys)