Aron C. Wall

Lecturer in Theoretical Physics

Research Interests

I'm interested in black hole thermodynamics, the holographic principle, and quantum gravity.


Lecture Notes on AdS/CFT

If you want to be my PhD student

The most likely path is to first do the Part III Mathematics Tripos program, and excel there. (There are tests and interviews in January to determine who will be conditionally accepted into the PhD program.) But, there are a lot of very talented people in this pool, so unfortunately this in no way guarantees that you'll be able to do your PhD at Cambridge. So you should only follow this plan if you think you would benefit from doing part III anyway.

The part III program has high standards for admission. You can determine the minimum academic requirements by clicking through the information in the link above. If you do not meet these minimum requirements (or if you applied and were rejected) and you still want to do part III, then your next step would probably be to complete a Master's degree in Physics or Mathematics somewhere else. Aside from these basic observations, I am not in a good position to offer useful advice about the part III admissions process, since I have never served on the application committee.

Another possible approach, for those who have already taken graduate level work in mathematics or physics, is to apply for the PhD program as an external applicant. You would need to submit your application to the University prior to the interviews in January, and specify my name in your application. (You should also include the names of any other faculty members you might be interested in working with; this would not lower your chances of working with me, and might even help you if your interview with them goes well.) However, this route is less likely to succeed than the other one. Mostly it is my decision who to accept as a PhD student. But I would require significant evidence of your ability to do new research. In order to succeed, you will probably need to meet at least one or two of the following 3 criteria:

1. you have already produced research articles in a related field (not necessarily published in a journal yet);
2. at least one strong letter of recommendation from a internationally-known academic who is familiar with your abilities;
3. you know enough about the field to already have interesting questions, that could lead to research projects.

These criteria are merely guidelines to help you assess your chances. My decision will be made on a case-by-case basis, so you are still welcome to apply from an external graduate program, even if you are not sure that you meet these criteria.

If you are an overseas student (for students starting a degree program in October 2019 or 2020, this means outside of the EU), you will probably be charged about 3x the tuition of a home status student for either part III or the PhD, so your funding sources would need to be able to cover that, plus your living expenses. You can apply for funding with your application, but would be well advised to also look for alternative sources of funding.

Everyone who applies for a PhD program anywhere, should know that permanent academic jobs at major research universities are in very short supply compared to the number of postdocs applying for them, and the large majority of graduates will have to settle for other sorts of jobs. But if your dream is to do research in cutting-edge fundamental physics, being a doctoral student at Cambridge is certainly a great way to start out.

Office: B1.10
Address: Centre for Mathematical Sciences, Wilberforce Road, Cambridge CB3 0WA
Telephone: +44 1223 766974
Fax: +44 1223 765900