Careers and Professional Skills Development

As well as providing an education in Physics, we place importance on being able to help you with your career choices. Many employers are looking for the types of analytic skills that physicists offer. Nevertheless companies seek graduates who are employable: those who possess an excellent scientific background, professional skills and personal transferable skills. Successful candidates demonstrate their employability through the possession of excellent written and verbal communication skills, they have an awareness of the functions of business and they can work as part of a team, manage and organise their time, can take positions of responsibility and lead others.

 The department has good links with many companies through our Industry Club . Each year we hold a Physics Department Recruitment Event where you can meet many companies and discuss internships and job opportunities. This year the event is organised jointly with PhySoc and will be held on Thursday November 3 2016.

Skills Development During Your Degree

The degree course in Physics provides many opportunities for skills development. Professional skills are incorporated into the many and varied elements of the degree course and acquired alongside and during the study of Physics. As well as this we have designed a 4 year integrated package of professional skills courses. These exercises teach many different aspects of the skills you will need for your future career including: scientific/technical writing whilst providing training in proper referencing, searching the technical literature, critical thinking and review and the avoidance of plagiarism. Team work is developed through group projects (years 1, 3 and 4) and students also have the opportunity to give presentations (years 1, 3 and 4). An introduction to the idea of developing intellectual property and the commercialisation of innovative science and technology ideas (year 3 and 4), scientific research funding (year 4) and writing a research proposal. Students will also be invited to attend Research Frontiers talks (term 1 and 2) and Industry Frontiers talks (term 2) to learn more about how physics plays a role in research and the commercial world.

Volunteer work, outreach, clubs and societies also provide opportunities for students to gain valuable experience whilst helping others while the College’s Horizons programme gives students the chance to broaden their skills with courses in business and professional skills or languages.

The summer undergraduate research opportunities scheme also serves to increase students skill base. See UROP

Summer Vacation Placements

Anglo-Australian Observatory (AAO) student fellowships for science and engineering students with at least two years undergraduate experience to carry out 10-12 weeks of paid research at the Anglo-Australian Observatory.

The Leyden/ESA Astrophysics Program for Summer Students (LEAPS) provides opportunities for students with an interest in Astrophysics to do a 10- to 12-week research project in collaboration with a scientist from Leyden Observatory or ESA.

CERN Summer Student Program offers undergraduate students of physics, computing and engineering a unique opportunity to join in the day-to-day work of research teams participating in experiments at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.

DESY Summer Student Programme: Each summer DESY, one of the world's leading accelerator centres, in Germany, offers undergraduate students in physics or related natural science disciplines the possibility to participate in the research activities of the laboratory.

DAAD Research internships in Science and Engineering: A programme of internships giving Physics students and other students the chance to spend a summer working with PhD students in a German university or research centre on a real research project.

IAESTE provides science, engineering and applied arts undergraduates with paid training experience abroad, relevant to their studies, on a reciprocal exchange basis.

Institute of Physics (IoP) work placement scheme for penultimate year students, studying in the UK or Ireland, offering the opportunity to find a summer work placement funded by the IoP.

Diamond Light Source summer projects: Diamond Light Source is the UK's national synchrotron facility, located in Oxfordshire. Each year Diamond gives 10-15 undergraduate students the opportunity to work on a beamline during the summer period.

NERC run a number of different placements, which vary from year to year. The link is here:

Selex summer placement opportunities, Luton.

STSI Space Astronomy Summer Program, Baltimore, USA.

Ogden Centre Trust Teach Physics Internship offers 36 internships to Physics undergraduates currently in their second year or above, who are considering a career in teaching. The internship is for a period of 4-5 weeks at the end of the summer term.

Biophysical Sciences Institute Summer Bursaries at Durham University offers undergraduate students in their penultimate year of study funding for 4-8 weeks of biophysical research over the summer vacation.

Cavendish Nuclear -

Met Office -


Additional physics related placements in the engineering and science sectors can be found at

Summary of the Professional Skills Courses (2016-17)

Year 1

  • Group Project and presentation (term1: 6 weeks) Teamwork, research/library skills and initial presentation skills, including a talk from each group and a poster.
  • Lecture by Shahida Osman on CV writing/cover letter
  • Writing a CV and covering letter (term 1: ~3 weeks)
    • Presentation on internships and UROPs
    • Lecture to whole year on referencing and plagiarism by library service
    • Topical review (term2: 3 weeks)
    • Basic Problem Solving techniques (term2: 7 weeks) including dimensional analysis, numerical estimation, placing large numbers in context

Year 2  

  • Term 1: Scientific article writing
  • Students will choose a scientific topic of interest to them, research it and produce an article style report. This will be assessed by; (i) a short planning document, (ii) a mid-period short presentation and (iii) the final submitted article.
  • The deadline for the article is the first Tuesday of term (12th January 2016) but with students strongly encouraged to complete it before they leave for the Christmas break.

Year 3

  • Introduction to entrepreneurship and innovation
  • Teamwork: 2 page summary of a commercial idea
  • Teamwork: Elevator Pitch – a short pitch to introduce the commercial idea

Year 4

  • Introduction to scientific research funding
  • Teamwork: Marking and ranking scientific proposals
  • Teamwork: Writing a short proposal for funding to support a research project
  • Teamwork: Presentation as a group to convince ‘funders’ to fund research grant proposal
  • 1 page summary of MSci project written in a public engagement style
  • Individual poster presentation based on MSci project

Departmental Careers Advisor

Prof.  Lesley Cohen Lesley Cohen

Room 912 Blackett level 9


Office hours are 12 - 2 pm on Mondays and Fridays during term. Please e-mail first to make an appointment during these times. In special cases, appointments can be arranged at other times.

The Departmental Careers Advisor is member of academic staff who acts as a point of contact between the students in that department and the College's Careers Advisory Service. If you want to discuss, for example, vacation training, research opportunities and further study, CV writing for technical jobs, or other career matters then you are welcome to come and see me.

 Within the Department, notices about Careers Talks, Employer Presentations, Vacancies, etc are displayed on noticeboards within the student study area on level 2 of Blackett. Notices of MSc / PhD opportunities will also be displayed there. Careers reference and take-away literature is available from the Careers Service.


Careers Service at IC

Jane Pooler
 Jane Pooler is the Careers Consultant responsible for the Physics department

Jane runs 15 minute drop in sessions in the Physics department over a lunch hour on Tuesdays (13.00-14.00).  These need to be booked via JobsLive on the day.  You can use your appointment to discuss any career query including feedback on CVs etc.

20 minute appointments with any of the Careers Consultants, are available in the Careers Service as well.  These need to be booked on the day via JobsLive .  The Careers Service is located on Level 5 of the Sherfield Building.

The College Careers Service offers a range of services to Physics students. The Careers website  is a comprehensive information resource where you can find help with every stage of planning your career, from making choices, to applying and attending interviews.  There is also information on psychometric tests and other activities that might form part of the assessment / selection process.  You may find the publication ‘Your Guide to Career Planning’ useful also. 

The Careers Service organises a programme of employer presentations, fairs, skills workshops run by employers and a range of careers seminars as well as a vacancy site. All the events can be booked via JobsLive at

Useful Links

PhysicsJobs is one of the leading recruitment directories for the physics community, and is a valuable resource for undergraduates looking for a job or post-graduate course in physics or engineering during their final year.

JobsWatch is the online jobs resource for high-energy physics and related areas, and is also a useful website for undergraduates.

Institute of Physics The IoP have a series of career events and a set of downloadable resources that are very useful.

JobsLive The Imperial College Careers Service maintains a career management system, called JobsLive, that includes a database of vacancies. Employers can advertise vacancies in this system via the following link.

Other Useful Links

What Imperial Physics Graduates Do 

You can view the overall undergraduate destinations statistics below from the Department of Physics to to gain an insight of previous Imperial students and their career paths to date.

Career Statistics for IC Physics UG 1

Career Statistics for IC Physics UG 2

Careers Presentations Delivered by the Careers Service

Year 1 Professional Skills - Internships and Work Experience

Year 3 - Getting Work Experience and Internships - Jessica Noon

Year 3 - Careers Talk and iUROP 2016