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quantstart
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Joined: March 7th, 2010, 11:16 am

Cambridge MASt/CASM/Part III

January 27th, 2011, 9:24 am

Hi all,I am considering applying to the Part III course in Applied Maths at Cambridge and would like some advice and anecdotes from former alumni on the admissions process.My goals are purely academic - I wish to enter astrophysics research either at the DAMTP or further afield. I've been doing some extensive reading on general relativity, cosmology, tensor analysis and smoothed particle hydrodynamics.My background includes a 4-year MMath from Warwick (1st Class Hons) and a PhD in numerical compressible fluid dynamics (Aeronautical Engineering) from Imperial College. I've been working at a small hedge fund for the last year, primarily as a quant developer, but am wanting to return to research.Can anyone advise me what the interview process is like? Should I prepare for some "quant style" mathematical brainteaser interview questions or is it more of an informal affair? Will my PhD be a help or a hindrance in this instance (i.e. will I likely be questioned on why I do not want to do a post-doc)?Any advice is greatly appreciated!QS.
 
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TitanPartners
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Cambridge MASt/CASM/Part III

January 27th, 2011, 1:12 pm

I did the Quantum Fields and Fundamental Forces MSc at imperial, back in the day, which is similar material but I think the Part III is a higher standard of examination. Its all interesting stuff and in some wierd way fun - a lot of it is potentially non-scientific in the true Popperian sense.If you don't mind me asking, if you have navier stokes Phd why go back to MSc? What is your ultimate goal? In terms of research, for theoretical physics there are precious little jobs I suspect. Could you do the Part III part time over 2 years, or perhaps the Fundamental Fields one in London, and keep your job at the HF?
 
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quantstart
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Joined: March 7th, 2010, 11:16 am

Cambridge MASt/CASM/Part III

January 27th, 2011, 1:25 pm

My ultimate goal is to begin researching astrophysical fluid dynamics, with smoothed particle hydrodynamics codes (if you're familiar with such things!). I am also interested in numerical cosmology, i.e. gravitational simulations of the universe and galactic clustering. My main background is in Eulerian fluid dynamics and numerical methods associated with that (hyperbolic PDE, finite volume and finite differences) so I'd like a strong Lagrangian grounding going forward. The CASM offers that, or so I have gleaned from the course guide! Unfortunately I won't be able to do the course part time - it's full time only.Thanks for your response though, TitanPartners. Very helpful!Does anybody else have any stories to tell about the admissions process to the CASM?Regards,QS.
 
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endian675
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Joined: March 11th, 2008, 7:09 pm

Cambridge MASt/CASM/Part III

January 27th, 2011, 2:56 pm

Have you read the Unofficial Guide to Part III available on the Cam website? Also there are a few people doing it and posting about it on a site called "the student rooms", which I'm sure Google can find for you.
 
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emac
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Cambridge MASt/CASM/Part III

January 27th, 2011, 4:37 pm

In my case at least, there was no interview process. With your background (1st class MMath + PhD + presumably good references) you should get in no problem. The question is: why? Are you planning to do another PhD after this, or straight into Post-Doc in your new field? Can you not just pick up whatever knowledge you need independently and apply for Post Docs right now?
 
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quantstart
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Joined: March 7th, 2010, 11:16 am

Cambridge MASt/CASM/Part III

January 27th, 2011, 7:50 pm

Thanks Endian and Emac.I have read the Unofficial Guide to Part III - although from what I recall, the details were sparse on interview specifics. Although, from what Emac says it looks like I've got a good chance.I think I'll have a much better chance of going for a Post-Doc in my chosen area of research after the MASt. I can meet the research staff and solidify which area I want to concentrate on. In addition, from what I gather it is a necessary prerequesite to do further study at DAMTP or the Institute of Astronomy, if I decide to apply there.I'm currently ploughing through the application form! I'll let you all know how I get on.Thanks again for the help.QS.
 
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barny
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Cambridge MASt/CASM/Part III

January 27th, 2011, 8:09 pm

You have a PhD already. Doing the MASt is a waste of time. MASt is simply an entrance test to do a PhD at DAMTP, nothing more.
 
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quantstart
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Cambridge MASt/CASM/Part III

January 27th, 2011, 8:40 pm

Barny, do you think the educational value is worthwhile? I'm interested because I primarily want to learn the material at that level. What other options do you think I should pursue if I want a grounding in astrophysics?
 
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nov1ce
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Cambridge MASt/CASM/Part III

January 27th, 2011, 9:16 pm

part III never reject anyone I don't think
 
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quantstart
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Posts: 154
Joined: March 7th, 2010, 11:16 am

Cambridge MASt/CASM/Part III

January 27th, 2011, 9:35 pm

nov1ce: I presume you mean if the candidate has the "required grades" and solid references?
 
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barny
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Cambridge MASt/CASM/Part III

January 28th, 2011, 1:06 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: quantstartBarny, do you think the educational value is worthwhile? I'm interested because I primarily want to learn the material at that level. What other options do you think I should pursue if I want a grounding in astrophysics?No, you can learn all the relevant material in plenty of books. Cambridge try to make the outside world think that the course is insane, but it's not that bad, and the astrophysics modules are renowned as the "soft" options on part III anyway. I don't see that you have that many options - you chose your PhD, you can't do another one, move on with your life and give up the astro dream. Either that, or speak to a lecturer in the astro department and say you're willing to collaborate with them for free and explain your motivations and experience. Note, you don't have to only speak to people at Cambridge to do this.
 
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nov1ce
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Joined: November 6th, 2008, 1:32 am

Cambridge MASt/CASM/Part III

February 4th, 2011, 12:04 am

I mean they don't reject anyone at all I don't think. It's good for cambridge undergrads that's about it and mostly for the damtp.
 
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mynetself
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Joined: March 27th, 2010, 6:40 pm

Cambridge MASt/CASM/Part III

February 4th, 2011, 1:29 pm

Quantstart, if you wanna do research in astrophysical fluid dynamics, that's pretty much Numerical Relativity! I did my MSc in NR and, in short, it was solving the Navier-Stokes equations for a compressible fluid on a Schwarzschild background. ANd I remember loads of people doing "similar" things. A very big part of NR is essentially relativistic fluid dynamics - two colliding neutron stars are basically modelled as two really dense balls of fluid. Of course, there's the issue of solving the Einstein equations... All the maths you need to do that is differential geometry and numerical analysis. But not really much of either.How about you start applying for jobs in Numerical Relativity and forget about the course? You probably know the numerics well enough to do the job and if you come up with a decent research proposal you might well get the job straight away.
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