Joseph Chapman

Physics MPhys

I am conducting my PhD in a field that I love. I am passionate about the subject and I have a great mentor who is helping me with my research.

When you arrived on campus, what were your first impressions?

I think Kent was the first open day I attended, and everything about the campus was great. It felt so welcoming which made me a lot more relaxed about moving out.  As my first proper experience with ‘university life’ I knew right away it was something I wanted to be a part of; I was so excited when I got my offer on results day.

What about your lecturers?

The lecturers here are fantastic; they’re so passionate about their subject, it makes it so easy to be excited about the lecture material. I’ve discovered so many new areas of interest thanks to my lecturers. They’re always ready to offer support whenever you need it too.

What are your plans for the future?

I’m not ready for my physics adventure to end just yet so I’m considering a PhD in a field related to my Master’s project. My supervisor has also been fantastic in this regard and has been supportive with suggestions of PhD opportunities.

Which modules have you enjoyed the most?

The Quantum mechanics modules stand out as some of the most enjoyable; the lecturers communicate the complex ideas clearly which helps the often counter-intuitive nature of quantum mechanics. A surprise was the third-year thermodynamics module. Half of the module focused on statistical mechanics which quickly became a favourite of mine; so much so, I’m using the techniques I learned in this module for my Master’s project.

What is/was your final-year research project about?

My Master’s project is about studying magnetic ordering phenomena in rare earth garnets. It’s a fascinating field with a lot of nuance and beautiful subtlety. We’re hoping that the results we obtain will have applications to neutron scattering experiments which is a huge motivation; it really grounds the work in reality and makes me feel like I’m a part of something bigger.

Is there a big practical element to the course?

The physics course here offers such a wide variety of both practical and theoretical work. In the first few years of my course, I was able to perform some experiments that really complemented the lecture material from other modules. Although I chose to do a theory project for my Master’s, plenty of my friends are working with state-of-the-art facilities for their projects and it’s always so interesting to hear what they are working on!

Did you do a foundation course? How did that prepare you for your degree?

My A level results weren’t as good as I hoped, but I was lucky enough to get a place at Kent on the foundation year. Looking back, it’s the best thing that could have happened. The foundation year helped me settle into university life and gave me a running start to my studies. It allowed me to learn how to study successfully in a university environment which has proved an invaluable skill.