Source: Imperial College London, Faculty of Natural Sciences
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Physics at Imperial College London: What it’s like to be a part of a global scientific community

Be part of a diverse community of pioneers, creators and innovators at the UK’s third-ranked university for physics and astronomy. Join Physics at Imperial College London today.

As one of the largest physics departments division in the UK with an outstanding reputation for excellence in research, the Department of Physics at Imperial College London is where you’ll be able to find answers to some of the biggest questions of our universe and reality. Indeed, the department offers more than education, unlocking a world of inquiry to its students and inviting more to step into the forefront of scientific exploration.

Italian-French student Stella found just that here. Always seeking to understand the complexities of the universe, it was an obvious choice for her to join a department that was home to several Nobel Prize in Physics winners. Cutting-edge research and distinguished scientists aside, Stella was also drawn to the idea of specialising in theoretical physics while also delving into fields like philosophy and political philosophy. 

The Physics with Theoretical Physics MSci programme aligned with her goals perfectly. The professionally accredited degree, which includes an integrated year of master’s level study, lets Stella tailor her studies to suit her interests and aspirations across a range of optional modules. After building an excellent grounding in a range of physics, mathematics and experimental methods, the programme gives students the opportunity to specialise across a variety of topics including cosmology, laser technology and quantum physics.

Those nervous about beginning a rigorous course at a world-leading university can take comfort in knowing it didn’t take long for Stella to feel at home, within and beyond campus. 

“To me, London is not a city of the world, but rather, the world in a city!” she enthuses. “Furthermore, the Imperial community is incredibly diverse, international and open. Hence, whoever you are, where you come from and whatever drives you, you will find your place! I certainly did.”

Immersed and engaged at the seventh most international university in the world, the student was able to whole-heartedly work toward developing the skills and knowledge needed to pursue her dream career in research. The department was no passive observer in this pursuit. It encourages all students to be active members of its research community. Stella seized the opportunity to explore the cosmos through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme, focusing on cosmology and astrophysics within a theory group. Another project is already on the horizon. 

Imperial College London's Department of Physics has been home to several Nobel Laureates, including Sir John Pendry, who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2014. Source: Imeprial College London

Imperial College London’s Department of Physics has been home to several Nobel Laureates, including Sir John Pendry, who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2014. Source: Imeprial College London

“Getting hands-on experience doing research and learning from like-minded researchers and professors in your field of interest is a great asset when it comes to kick-starting a career in research,” she says. 

For graduate Sofía, her Imperial journey was just as horizon-broadening. Through the International Research Opportunities Programme, she had the chance to spend a summer in China exploring 5G at Tsinghua University. “It opened my eyes to see that I didn’t have to stay in Europe – I could explore other places in the future and see how things are done differently,” she says. “It was an extremely positive experience.” 

Such opportunities make it all the easier for MSci students to get a better understanding of the areas of focus that matter the most to them. Many dive deeper into these topics during their fourth-year research project. For example, Kantaphat Pinaree further explored the exoplanet by investigating the atmospheric composition of the hot gas giant WASP-69b. Anthea MacIntosh-LaRocque focused on building a detector to map a proton beam’s dose profile and ultimately fight cancer with physics. Nadia Cooper looked into the interplay between gravity, quantum theory, and extreme conditions, focusing on the behaviour of charged black holes.

The BSc Physics provides access to state-of-the-art laboratories and top-of-the-line research resources, too. This three-year programme — which can be followed up with a one-year postgraduate MSc course — is a better fit for students looking to lay a solid foundation by developing the numerical, logical thinking and problem-solving skills required to impress the employers of both today and tomorrow. 

All programmes are delivered from the heart of London, the global academic capital. Regardless of their background, everyone discovers something special in this multicultural, vibrant city. For Stella, studying in the heart of South Kensington, a stone’s throw away from the serenity of Hyde Park and close iconic landmarks and museums, has been nothing short of a blessing. Its artistic and musical scenes, always lively, youthful, and intriguing, have never failed to energise her.

“Be careful, though,” she says. “Once you leave London, you will find yourself missing and longing to come back.”

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