MSc. Theoretical Physics or Computer Science

This is the core course of KCL:

choose a minimum of 5 modules (max of 8) from below &
  • Advanced General Relativity
  • Advanced Quantum Field Theory
  • Foundations of Mathematical Physics
  • Lie Groups & Lie Algebras
  • Low-Dimensional Quantum Field Theory
  • Manifolds
  • Mathematical Methods for Theoretical Physics
  • Quantum Field Theory
  • Quantum Mechanics II
  • Spacetime Geometry & General Relativity
  • Standard Model Physics & Beyond
  • String Theory & Branes
  • Supersymmetry
The remaining modules can be drawn from a range of theoretical physics or pure mathematics MSc modules available in London, the Financial Mathematics MSc in King's. I also believe you can choose computing modules.

Edinburgh follows a similar structure as well.

The physics modules will probably not be hugely relevant for industry but will require quite difficult maths especially in linear algebra, calculus. Some of the modules would require high performance computing simulations ie. like you say, taking a model and getting on with the coding and design


None of those modules would require high performance computing simulations. None of them will even require writing a single line of code. You will be given a set of lecture notes, and expected to memorise them verbatim for your exams. Most of the lecturers in these modules wouldn't know a line of code if it smacked them in the head, nevermind expect students to know what one was.
 
I just dumbed down the maths because I didn't know if you would know the various areas... Hamiltonian, Lagrangians, Complex number theory (contour integrations etc.), PDEs/ODEs, Stokes etc. these are all covered in standard BSc physics degrees.

@Daniel Duffy I've already done MPI/OpenMP and HPC in Fortran so I'd be doing it all C++ this time round

@bigbadwolf I can see where you're coming from but would an MSc in computer science be any better is the fundamental question?

I guess my point is that I want an eduction in something purer than what an MFE offers and I might do an MFE afterwards as a way of focusing in on finance. I am wondering which of these areas might tie in the best with an MFE

You've done a two week course on MPI in Fortran. Good for you. Go away and write a code which actually does something useful and scales linearly with the number of cores up to e.g. 500k cores. If you say that you know MPI and are good at parallel programming, that's what people expect.

To your last point - [Shaun from Good Will Hunting Voice] What do you want to do? [/Shaun from Good Will Hunting Voice] . If you want to do physics, do physics. If you want to do CS, do CS. If you want to do finance, do finance. Doing physics to do finance is stupid.
 

Daniel Duffy

C++ author, trainer
Who? I wish people would stop looking at their alma mater with such rose-tinted specs. Nobody cares about TCD, especially not in finance.

That's you projecting again, and you miss the point. I said nothing about finance in TCD.
FYI in 2011 TCD maths dept was first place in top 100 maths departments as far as citations is concerned.
 
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Daniel Duffy

C++ author, trainer
You've done a two week course on MPI in Fortran. Good for you. Go away and write a code which actually does something useful and scales linearly with the number of cores up to e.g. 500k cores. If you say that you know MPI and are good at parallel programming, that's what people expect.

MPI is not what an average quant developer needs to know. It is over-specialisation. And there are special HPC people to do
 
You've done a two week course on MPI in Fortran. Good for you. Go away and write a code which actually does something useful and scales linearly with the number of cores up to e.g. 500k cores. If you say that you know MPI and are good at parallel programming, that's what people expect.

MPI is not what an average quant developer needs to know. It is over-specialisation. And there are special HPC people to do

I don't disagree, though it's unrelated to what I said.
 
That's you projecting again, and you miss the point. I said nothing about finance in TCD.
FYI in 2011 TCD maths dept was first place in top 100 maths departments as far as citations is concerned.

Why are we talking about TCD again? Every thread you are involved in TCD comes up.
 
Either way this thread is spiralling away from the original point which was "what's more relevant Physics or CS". What I'm getting from the discussion is that (aside from "smash" is not being an acceptable verb on this forum) neither have any relevance so I should just do what I enjoy the most at the present time.

I am not doing physics to get into finance as suggested, I just see physics as a subject with more opportunities and a way for me to get an insight into the inner workings of the universe and as pathway to a PhD project in theoretical physics. I am just as interested in computer science and potential further study.

You may ask, why am I on this forum then? The reason is that I stumbled into financial modelling and found it rather straightforward in all honesty. I found that I can read and understand research papers in finance and took an interest in time series analysis and stochastic processes and put this into practice with a load of Monte Carlo VaR models. I see finance as something that uses my existing skills in a practical and useful environment. I might then pursue a career out of that interest. I am currently interviewing for about 10-15 quant internships for the coming months before I start an MSc. as this might change the way I feel and could even lead me to choose an MFE program instead. I have had many interviewers ask, why I am doing an MSc. in Theoretical Physics, my answer above has satisfied all of them bar one so far.

I may be highly naiive but personally I see the MFE programs as something you could learn in your own time and as @Barny said, it's all about the name on the degree certificate. From some extensive reading on these degrees, I think the £30,000 fees are largely to say "I graduated from X university and did an internship with Y company as part of my qualification."

It would seem to me that these courses are for someone who has already specialised in a mathematical subject, has some internships in a quantitative field under their belt and wants to take the plunge into quantitative finance. I see the MFE programmes (at least at the moment) as a highly specialised, risky and expensive gamble on getting into an industry that seems to be dominated by PhDs who already have experience in other types of modelling, have done quant internships as a taster and have decided to do an MFE to transfer their skills into finance.

I greatly appreciate the responses I am getting they are really informative and I do value the honesty in them.
 
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Nobody is suggesting you do an MFE. We are all agreed they are an expensive waste of time, I think. We're just saying that what MSc course you do, from that list, is not relevant to any future plans to be a quant. Do what you're interested in, forget finance, at least for now. Once you've gained some skills someone actually wants, maybe then you can reconsider. Try and become an expert in *something*, even if that something doesn't seem relevant.
 
Once you've gained some skills someone actually wants, maybe then you can reconsider. Try and become an expert in *something*, even if that something doesn't seem relevant.

I'm at that stage right now. As a fresh graduate, I know a little about a lot of things. My grades just show that I know some of the basics really well. Like you said before, I wouldn't consider myself "knowing" anything after a 3 month course; these courses are just tasters, a tip of the iceberg leading to multiple lifetimes of research.

The advice has, as always is the case here, been very good. I will see what MSc. programs I receive offers for and continue playing with finance here and there as a hobby for now. In answer to the original question I posed, it seems that CS at Imperial is the weaker course, unless I am seeking the brand recognition of a top UK university.
 

Daniel Duffy

C++ author, trainer
@Daniel Duffy said it's all about the name on the degree certificate.

Hmmm, not sure I said that.

More the contents of the course. IMO a theoretical physics from _any_ university is no so useful in the current context.

I am seeking the brand recognition of a top UK university.
Is branding the be all and end all?
 

Yike Lu

Finder of biased coins.
I am not doing physics to get into finance as suggested, I just see physics as a subject with more opportunities and a way for me to get an insight into the inner workings of the universe and as pathway to a PhD project in theoretical physics. I am just as interested in computer science and potential further study.
What subject did you do your undergrad in? Apparently not physics...

Leaving aside the "inner workings of the universe" thing (which btw I've been through already), what "opportunities" are you talking about? Especially for theoretical physics. I see your job path out of it as being limited to academia. There are other places for physicists, but they all tend to have an engineering bent -- materials, chief scientist, etc.

Experimentalists at least can say that they've done a lot of programming and statistics.
 
I'm at that stage right now. As a fresh graduate, I know a little about a lot of things. My grades just show that I know some of the basics really well. Like you said before, I wouldn't consider myself "knowing" anything after a 3 month course; these courses are just tasters, a tip of the iceberg leading to multiple lifetimes of research.

The advice has, as always is the case here, been very good. I will see what MSc. programs I receive offers for and continue playing with finance here and there as a hobby for now. In answer to the original question I posed, it seems that CS at Imperial is the weaker course, unless I am seeking the brand recognition of a top UK university.


You are not listening. One course is not weaker than the other. They serve different purposes entirely. What. Do. You. Want. To. Do. Once you've decided that, you can choose the course which lets you do the things you want to do. None of those courses are better than the other for getting you into finance, except that some stupid people (e.g. hiring managers in finance) might be more impressed if you went to Imperial than Edinburgh.
 
What subject did you do your undergrad in? Apparently not physics...

Leaving aside the "inner workings of the universe" thing (which btw I've been through already), what "opportunities" are you talking about? Especially for theoretical physics. I see your job path out of it as being limited to academia. There are other places for physicists, but they all tend to have an engineering bent -- materials, chief scientist, etc.

Experimentalists at least can say that they've done a lot of programming and statistics.

Experimentalists do lots of programming and stats? :confused: My friends and my time in the lab was mostly spent doing basic electronics; designing electronic parts and then soldering them together. Apart from that, lots of time spent calibrating bits of kit. Then assembling lots of kit. Oh and cleaning bits of kit. Glorified monkey work to the extreme. Maybe you might get your hands on some data *if* your experiment runs smoothly, at which points your supervisor will do the analysis because you've had so little time spent dealing with real data you wouldn't know what to do with it.

If you want to learn real skills from physics then computational physics is the way to go. Worst comes to worst, you've learnt how to use a unix shell and will at least know a scripting language and Matlab. Best case scenario is learning unix, a low-level language like C, an OOP object language like python for data analysis and scripting. You also get to deal with a lot of real data, since it only takes x hours to run a simulation and get some data back. You don't need to spent weeks, months or years building an experiment before you can even collect the data.
 
@Daniel Duffy said it's all about the name on the degree certificate.

Hmmm, not sure I said that.

More the contents of the course. IMO a theoretical physics from _any_ university is no so useful in the current context.

I am seeking the brand recognition of a top UK university.
Is branding the be all and end all?

Daniel raises an important point here. Unfortunately, most hiring managers look at candidates in a superficial manner; what university did you go to? What did you study? What are your extra-curricular activities? Are you friends with the bosses son? The places you really want to work for are the places that don't give a rats ass about any of that. They just care about your skills: what you know, and what you can do. And for that, it doesn't matter whether you went to TCD or Harvard; what matters is you. The sooner you figure out that collecting credentials is not the goal in itself, the better you will be able to make decisions for your future.

Why do you want to work in finance, anyway? Why not do something useful and worthwhile with your life, instead?
 
Why do you want to work in finance, anyway? Why not do something useful and worthwhile with your life, instead?

Explanation is too long* and involves internet gaming in my early teens, AS-level economics and a fascination with predicting the future. I've been offered an off-cycle internship as a junior quant in London this evening, so hopefully I'll be in a better position to answer that question in 6 months!

(*unless you want to come to London and buy me a beer)
 
Explanation is too long* and involves internet gaming in my early teens, AS-level economics and a fascination with predicting the future. I've been offered an off-cycle internship as a junior quant in London this evening, so hopefully I'll be in a better position to answer that question in 6 months!

(*unless you want to come to London and buy me a beer)

Well, I live in London, but I don't think I should be the one buying the beers :P Suffice it to say, you can't predict the future, particularly when the systems are highly interacting and non-linear as with markets. I just hope you figure that out before you can do some real damage :D
 
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