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2018 school information

We are delighted to announce that Physics by the Lake will run in 2018, from 29th July to August 10th at Cumberland Lodge, Windsor.

News added 14 Nov 2017


EPSRC have withdrawn direct support for the school because all their funding is now routed through universities. However, we do have support from our lovely sponsors at CCPmag, CM-CDT, CCP5, CCP9, psi-k and UKCP

Applications for 2018 now open

Applications are now being taken for the 2018 school on a first-come first-served basis: see Apply page for more details. Places are limited to 50, and previous iterations of the School have been oversubscribed.

News added 15 Jan 2018


EPSRC have withdrawn direct support for the school because all their funding is now routed through universities. However, we do have support from our lovely sponsors at CCPmag, CM-CDT, CCP5, CCP9, psi-k and UKCP

What is it?

Physics by the Lake is a national summer school on theoretical condensed matter physics organised by the Institute of Physics (IOP) Theory of Condensed Matter group. It consists of two weeks of high-quality lecture courses by experts in the field, as well as tutorials to give thorough training in solving real problems. There is also a series of after-dinner seminars.

When is it?

The next Physics by the Lake is planned to take place from July 29th to August 10th, 2018. Lectures begin on Monday 30th July and the school will finish after lunch on Friday 10th August.

Where is it?

As in 2016, the School will take place at the unique venue - Cumberland Lodge in the heart of Windsor Great Park. Previously it has been held in the Lake District and on the Cumbrian coast.

See the Location page for more information.

Who should come to it?

It is primarily aimed at Ph.D. students in theoretical condensed matter physics typically at the end of their first year. Theoretically-inclined experimental condensed matter physics students are also strongly encouraged to take part.

What will happen during the school?

The lectures fall into two sets, core subjects and applications. The first set contains four courses each of which comprises six lectures and two tutorials. The second set is varied in length, style and subject matter.

As a guide as to what to expect in 2018, the core courses in 2016 were:

The applications courses were:

The Lectures page will be updated with more detailed information when this is available.

How much does it cost?

The full fee for attending the school in 2018 is £1400 (but see below). This fee covers full board for two weeks and lodging in comfortable shared-room accommodation and internet access as well as the full academic programme (lectures, tutorials, seminars and a full set of printed notes).

Physics by the Lake was previously funded directly by EPSRC, but that funding is now routed through Universities. If your Ph.D. is funded by the EPSRC you should be able to get the fee paid by your University from their EPSRC training budget. We are happy to receive feedback about whether this system is working.

We have received backing from many parts of the UK and EU Theory of Condensed Matter community which will enable us to provide a significant number of bursaries to support UK and EU students.

We ask for partial payment of £500 at the time of registration, with the balance to be paid at a later date. We advise students to set aside the full fee for the school, but in many cases we hope that the funding we have secured will allow us to reduce the fee for UK/EU students. This partial payment will be refunded if we do not accept your application to participate in the school.

How do I apply?

Applications to the school take place online. The application period is provisionally scheduled as January 15 2018 to April 20 2018 but these dates are subject to change. Note that in previous years the school has been over-subscribed and we have had to allocate places on a first-come first-served basis (see next question).

Applications and payments will be made through a secure site hosted by the University of Edinburgh, UK.

What happens if the school is over-subscribed?

For a number of years, the school was over-subscribed and we have unfortunately had to turn away applications from well-qualified students. From 2010, we have considered all applications that were received before the closing date. Whilst we may give priority to applications from students in their first year of a predominantly theoretical Condensed Matter Ph.D., we have generally allocated on a first-come first-served basis. You are therefore encouraged to get your application in as soon as you can.

This year some places are earmarked for CM-CDT students in return for financial support that has been instrumental in allowing the school to take place this year. Similar arrangements may apply to other groups of students where organisations make a similar financial commitment.

How should I prepare for the poster sessions?

We will be holding two poster sessions during the school so that students can find out a bit about each other's research. Please bring a poster up to a maximum of A0 portrait size (84cm wide and 119cm tall). You will be informed at the school which of the two sessions you will present at: you will have an opportunity to give a one-minute verbal introduction to the whole group, so come prepared to say a few words about who you are and what you do.

What did previous students think?

Students who attended the school reported that the following were the best things about the school:

There will almost certainly be someone in your research group or department - another student, or possibly even some of the lecturers - who attended a previous Physics by the Lake / Physics by the Sea Summer School. Why not ask them what they got out of it?

Are lecture notes available?

A full set of lecture notes and solutions to problems will be handed out to you at the school. Lecture notes from previous schools are available to former participants on the Resources page. If you are a Ph.D. student in Condensed Matter Theory and would like to get access to these resources, please follow the instructions there.

Why is it called Physics by the Lake?

The very first EPSRC / IOP school in Condensed Matter Theory (in the late 90s) was held at the Charlotte Mason college in Ambleside, which at that time was part of Lancaster University. The presence of Windermere in the proximity of the college lent the school its distinctive moniker. The school was held each year until 2010 at the same venue, despite two name changes (to the University of Cumbria via St Martin's College) in the intervening period. In 2010, the University of Cumbria decided to close the college, although it is slated to reopen in the future.

Since then, the Condensed Matter Theory school has led a nomadic existence, first of all camping out at St Bees school in Cumbria for two years. During this time it was known as Physics by the Sea. It then put its weary feet up for 2013, before making the trek down to Chicheley Hall in rural Buckinghamshire in 2014 and Royal Berkshire in 2015. With the expectation of the school being a touring exhibit for the foreseeable future, we have decided to revert to the original name of Physics by the Lake for all time coming.

Wherever you shall find us, there will always be a lake. Windsor Great Park boasts the splendid Virginia Water a few minutes' walk from Cumberland Lodge.

Who are the current organisers ?

Dr Sam Carr, University of Kent.

Prof Graeme Ackland, University of Edinburgh

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Physics by the Lake Poster

Supported by

IOP Theory of Condensed Matter group

Higgs Centre for Theoretical Physics