Theoretical Physics postgraduate

Cameron Calcluth

Why did you decide to do Physics at Leeds?

Physics takes you to the fundamental level, it is about getting to the very bottom of how our world (and beyond) works. One of the reasons I chose the University of Leeds was because of the field and quality of research being conducted here. There are a number of researchers in the Leeds Theory group who are focused on the topics of quantum computation and quantum information. This is really exciting to me as I find it fascinating to learn how we can manipulate quantum objects which are so impossibly small and utilise them to compute incredibly important tasks to the benefit of almost every corner of science, technology and health.

Aside from the department itself, Leeds is such a great city with interesting and exciting events going on every day and beautiful countryside only a few miles away.

Where are you studying abroad?

This year I am studying in Aarhus, which is the second biggest city in Denmark. It is a seaside city with incredible architecture and culture. There are always exciting events going on here and I’m so happy that I decided to come. It is also really great to get a feel for the international community of physicists. It gave me the chance to work with lecturers from other research areas that I had previously not even known to have existed. As part of my year abroad I have been given the fascinating opportunity of joining a team currently working on a project about “gamification” - that is, how we can solve quantum problems using human intuition where classical algorithms have failed. 

Do you have any advice for students who are considering studying abroad?

Just do it! It’s such an amazing experience. You will meet people from all around the globe and discover new ideas, perspectives and cultures. Leeds has such a supportive study abroad team who will always be happy to help and answer any questions you might have.

It can take time to make such a big decision though so try and at least have a look at what places are on offer as soon as you can. Also, try not to be too put off by the additional cost of studying abroad (or choose a country that is cheaper!) since there are many different types of funding schemes. In my case, it actually ended up costing exactly the same, even in notoriously expensive Denmark.

What are your ambitions for the future?

My current plan is to do a PhD in Europe before heading down the academic career path. I am still narrowing down the areas that I am most fascinated in but it will likely be to do with the theoretical application of quantum technology. I would also be open to working in the commercial field of quantum computation as it begins to emerge. Studying physics at Leeds has really given me the opportunity to explore research and confirmed that I would like it to be at the forefront of any future job I may do.

Do you have any advice for prospective students?

Look out for research scholarships which will give you the opportunity to do (paid) research during the summer. The UGRL scholarship scheme is fantastic. You get to do two summers of research in an area that fascinates you and there is even a fund which sends you to international conferences to present your work.

Also, get involved in the hundreds of societies Leeds offers. The student union is really fantastic and there are always interesting, exciting and sometimes bizarre “give it a go” sessions going on throughout the year. Studying physics can take a lot of hard work so it is really important to get a good balance and enjoy all the exciting experiences that are on offer.