This page contains answers to some of the most common questions the Department of Physics is asked about what we look for in applications, our interviews, and offers.

International applicants should also read our information for international applicants.

Information on this page last updated:  September 2016

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A Levels

A Level entry requirements

For 2017 entry the minimum entry requirements to study Physics at Imperial College London are to achieve grades of A*A*A in three full A Levels - including A* in Mathematics and A*A in Physics and another subject (excluding General Studies or Critical Thinking).  This is the most common offer but we reserve the right to vary the offer in some circumstances, for example where one or more A Levels have been taken a year early.  The practical part of any science A-Level must be passed.   A grade B in GCSE English will satisfy the College English language requirements (see below) which all applicants, including native speakers, are required to meet.

A Level subject selection

Mathematics and Physics are compulsory.  Most of our applicants sit either three or four A Levels in their final year but the third A grade only needs to be in one additional subject unless specifically stated in your offer.  Further Mathematics and Chemistry are the most common third subjects, both of which will be useful to physicists, but we recognise that some applicants will wish to have a broader education and so we place no restriction on the third A Level subject.  We do not accept General Studies or Critical Thinking as meeting our entry requirements.

Further Mathematics

Further Mathematics is not a requirement but we are happy to encourage those who wish to take it either to AS or A Level as our students find that any more challenging mathematical experience they have acquired is helpful to them when they start our courses.  We are aware that not all schools are able to offer Further Mathematics but that the Further Mathematics Support Programme is a widely available alternative.

Mathematics modules

We are often asked whether we require specific A Level Mathematics modules.  Again, we set no specific requirements, but are happy to advise applicants that they will find any of the Mechanics modules (M1, M2, M3, M4) particularly useful.  Statistics 1 (S1) will also be useful but we can advise that most of the necessary statistics material is taught as part of our degree programmes.  Again we are aware that not all schools are able to offer the full range of modules.

Should AS and A Level module grades already achieved be included in applications?

Yes, please provide the AS and A Level module marks that you have already achieved using the facility provided in the UCAS application.  These provide us with useful information and shortlisting for interview may be delayed if you do not include them.  However, we will not set requirements on individual module marks as part of our offers.  If you are unable to add your marks on your UCAS form please email this to us when you have applied.

A Levels taken a year early

We often receive applications where at least one A Level (usually Mathematics) has been completed a year early in Year 12.  Where an A* in Mathematics has been achieved this will definitely count towards satisfying that condition in our entry requirements.  However, we want to be sure that applicants are undertaking a full programme of studies in their final year at school as a lightly loaded year would not be a good preparation for the demands on your time that you will face at university.  Thus we may decide to make an offer requiring three A Levels from your final year at school.  Each such application is assessed individually.  We will not automatically reject an application where an A in Mathematics has been achieved in Year 12 provided all other aspects of the application are strong.  Such applicants should plan to resit necessary modules or, if successful at interview, we may consider an offer requiring an A* in Further Mathematics.

Acceptance of AS and A Level resits

We recognise that applicants can occasionally have a one-off bad exam so will not automatically reject applications which show that some modules will be retaken provided all other aspects of the application are strong and, in particular, when the grade is a near miss and only one or two modules are affected.  If there are extenuating circumstances to explain your retakes please ask your school to comment in their reference.

Alternative qualifications

The requirements shown for each qualification below are the minimum we will ask for 2016 entry.  We assess each application on its individual merits and in some circumstances may make offers that are higher than quoted here.  These are the most common qualifications presented by applicants from the UK and the Republic of Ireland.  View entry requirements based on the more common international qualifications.

International Baccalaureate

Grade of 7,6,6 are required in three Higher Level subjects including at least 6 in both Mathematics and Physics, and a minimum of 40 points overall.  Grade 5 in either standard or higher level English will satisfy the College English language requirements (see below) if a GCSE at grade B has not already been achieved.

Cambridge Pre-U

Distinction grades of D2,D2,D3 are required in three principal subjects including D2 in Mathematics and D3 in Physics.

Scottish Advanced Highers

We require an A grade in Mathematics, A in Physics and A in any third subject.  A grade of 2 in Standard Grade English Language will satisfy the College English language requirements (see below).

Irish Leaving Certificate

A grades are required in six subjects including A1 in Mathematics and A2 in Physics at higher level.  A grade B in English Language in the Irish Junior Certificate will satisfy the College English language requirements (see below).

Additional requirements for MSci Physics with a Year in Europe (F309)

A grade B at GCSE in a modern European language (French, German, Italian or Spanish) is required, or in an equivalent qualification such as Scottish Standard Grade.  Fluent speakers of these languages are exempt from this requirement but may require to be assessed at the start of the course to confirm their exemption from language classes.

Additional requirements for BSc Physics and Music Performance (F3W3)

ABRSM Grade 8 with Distinction or an equivalent level in a suitable musical instrument is required, usually achieved by age 15 although this age requirement may be waived for strong applicants.  A shortlisting committee meets in late October and suitable applicants are invited for audition at the Royal College of Music in November or December.  We will usually hold your Physics interview on the same day.  Thus it is advisable to apply early although strong applications received up to 15th January will still be considered and invited for audition in February.

Applicants for this course who do not hold the ABRSM qualification but believe that they have reached an equivalent standard should contact the Physics Admissions Office for advice, letting us know what qualifications you have achieved.  It can also be helpful to let us know the repertoire you are currently working on and what pieces you have played recently.

English language requirements for all applicants

All applicants, including native speakers, are required to hold an accepted English language qualification.  For the majority of UK applicants this is satisfied by already holding at least a grade B in GCSE English Language.  Those who have not achieved this or an accepted equivalent qualification will need to take one of the accepted English language tests: a full list of these can be found here.  Results must be received by the College by the third week of  July 2017 for those applying in the 2016/17 UCAS cycle.

Selection for interview

Entry to study physics at Imperial is highly competitive and in recent years we have only been able to invite for interview about half of those who apply.  In shortlisting candidates for interview we look at all aspects of applications including predicted grades, results already achieved at GCSE and AS Level including module grades, personal statement and school reference.

We interview groups of 12 students most days of the week from 24 October 2016 to 14 December and from 23 January 2017  to 7 March 2017.  We attempt to work through applications roughly in the order received but since in recent years we have received about 1000 applications by mid October it has typically taken us until early February before the majority of suitable October applicants have been interviewed.  Applicants who apply from late October until the final UCAS deadline of 15th January are more likely to be interviewed in  February or March.  Applicants who meet the 15th January UCAS deadline are guaranteed equal consideration.  In recent years we have not been able to consider any late applicants.

There is always a subset of applicants whom we are not able to invite for interview on a first review but we keep on hold for further consideration until all applications have been received.  If you have not received an interview invitation or a rejection decision through UCAS then you should assume that your application is still under consideration. 

Interview advice

‌‌‌‌If you are successful in being shortlisted for interview you will be sent a letter of invitation by email usually at least 2 weeks in advance of the interview date, although sometimes we may offer cancellation dates at shorter notice.

Applicants often ask if we have a dress code for interviews: we set no requirements on this so please dress as you feel comfortable as long it is not too extreme!  We also ask that you bring photographic identification with you, for example a passport.

Applicants are given the opportunity to arrive in the Department by 12:20pm in which case they will be taken to lunch and given a campus tour by one of our current undergraduate students.  This provides an excellent opportunity to ask questions about student life at Imperial and about the course to someone with firsthand experience.  The more formal part of the afternoon begins at 2:00pm where applicants meet in groups of 4 with an academic who is a member of our admissions interview team.  The first part of the afternoon consists of a short introduction to the Department, our Physics courses and learning activities, with opportunities to ask questions, and a brief tour of the teaching facilities, usually with an opportunity to briefly observe a teaching session in progress.  This is followed by individual interviews with the same academic.

The individual interview aims to assess your motivation to study physics and your suitability to undertake a challenging degree programme where strong mathematical skills are required.  You can expect to be asked why you want to undertake a physics degree and to back this with evidence – expanding on material you have already introduced in your personal statement is one way to do this .  You should be able to discuss with your interviewer anything mentioned in your personal statement – knowing nothing about a book you claim to have read is a pitfall to avoid.  You will also be asked some maths and physics questions which can be discussed over pen and paper.  Do not worry if you do not know the right answer immediately as your interviewer will help you – we want to see how you are able to think through a problem as part of a discussion.

You will also have an opportunity to ask questions specific to your individual application and to discuss which of our degree programmes is the right one for you.

Handouts for Interviews

Physics with a Year in Europe (F309) Degree Course

Physics at Imperial

Course Table 2016

Ash Music Scholarships 2017

Physics with Science Education Degree

Designing your Physics Course

Physics Graduates 2015

Leading Physics Research and Education

English Requirements for Entry 2017

When will offers be made?

If you do well in your interview we aim to make offers within 3-4 weeks of the interview date, although if you are interviewed in December the Christmas break may cause an additional delay while the College Registry is closed.  You will be notified of your offer through UCAS Track.  Inevitably there are some applicants whom we are not able to make offers to immediately but whom it is appropriate to hold in a pool until all applications have been received in January and all interviews completed by early March.  This is so that we can be fair to all applicants while at the same time not exceeding the number of places we are allowed to offer.  We review this pool at regular intervals so that we do not delay offers once it is clear that they can be made and so that we do not keep unsuccessful applicants waiting for long periods once we are sure that an offer cannot be made.  The Admissions Tutor’s decision on offers is final.

Where do Original Certificates or Certified copies need to be sent?

For most applicants taking A Levels and IB courses we will be able to confirm your examination results in the summer through UCAS.  However, if your offer asks you to send certificates for A levels already completed or you are taking qualifications that cannot be verified through UCAS then you may need to send us  original certificates or certified copies duly signed and stamped by your school.  These need to be sent to Registry and NOT to the Physics Department. The address to send them to is:

Natural Science Admissions Team, Registry, South Kensington Campus, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, UK.

Unfortunately Registry does not accept scanned copies or photocopies. If you wish Registry to send the certificates back to your current address, please state this in a cover letter.