Key points

  • The new Molecular Sciences  Research Hub on the College’s new White City campus opened during Summer 2018 and the department's move into the building will be completed during Autumn 2018.
  • The building accommodates all of Chemistry’s research and postgraduate training, including space for the department to grow to become one of the largest in the world, with research spanning across the whole range of modern Molecular Science.
  • Final year undergraduate projects (MSci/BSc) will also be carried out in the new state-of-the-art research labs at White City. The building also has a large (ca. 242 capacity) lecture theatre, so some undergraduate lectures (particularly for final year students) can also be held there.
  • Years 1 and 2 undergraduate teaching will largely remain at South Kensington, in upgraded facilities.
  • Preliminary work on upgrading these facilities has also started.

Frequently Asked Questions

What/where is the White City campus?

White City Campus is the College’s major new campus, co-locating world class researchers, entrepreneurs, businesses and higher education partners to translate and commercialise cutting-edge research for the benefit of society. The ~25 acre site which will support innovation on an unprecedented scale in London is situated in White City, adjacent to the A40 and approximately 500m from the College’s existing Hammersmith Campus. The nearest Tube stations are White City (Central Line) and Wood Lane (Hammersmith & City Line).

Excitingly, this venture is taking place within the context of widespread regeneration in White City, following the vision set out in the 2014 White City Opportunity Area Framework to develop the area as a centre for creativity and innovation. In addition to Imperial, major organisations such as the BBC, Westfield, Berkeley and Stanhope are committed to 5000 new homes, 19,000 jobs and 2 million square foot of new workspace in the surrounding ecosystem.

Why did Chemistry need a new building?

We need new facilities to maintain our position as a world-leading Department. Our research space was limited, inappropriate and inadequate for modern research: we needed access to a greater number of fumehoods and improved key infrastructure – cell culture/protein production facilities, anti-vibration lab space, centralized analytical facilities. The new building will deliver all of this and allow us to seed a new molecular sciences neighbourhood at White City that connects with work in other synergistic areas including synthetic biology, data sciences, and the movement to personalise healthcare. In addition, it will give us exciting new opportunities for collaboration: next door to the new building is the Translation and Innovation Hub, housing major technology partners, new start-ups and fast-growth technology companies. This will create exciting possibilities for us, bringing our research together with industry to confront the grand challenges of energy, healthcare and the environment.

Why is the building at White City?

A Masterplanning study revealed that a new building on the South Kensington campus would not have sufficient or appropriate space of the type needed for modern chemistry research. The space offered by the new White City campus provides an incredible opportunity.

What parts of Chemistry have moved?

The new building accommodates all of Chemistry’s research and postgraduate training, including space for the Department to grow. Final year undergraduate (MSci, BSc) projects and some (4th/3rd year) undergraduate lectures will also be held in the new building.

What will happen to first and second year undergraduate teaching?

First and second year undergraduate teaching will remain in South Kensington, as at present. The teaching facilities will be upgraded and expanded.

What will happen to final year MSci teaching?

As well as state-of-the-art new research facilities, the new building at White City also contains a lecture theatre (capacity ca. 242), several smaller meeting/teaching rooms, and a cafe/common room area. Final year MSci undergraduates will therefore be able to carry out all of their academic activity (lectures, projects etc.) in White City and will benefit from the experience of working as part of world-leading research teams in the new facilities.

What about BSc final year and MSci year 3?

At the moment, our course has two year 3 streams (BSc final year and MSci year 3) with significant overlap in lecture and lab content. We are in the process of reviewing year 3 to ensure that both student groups receive optimum training. BSc students carry out a research project, and this will take place in White City. Non-project lab work is likely to remain in South Kensington. Other teaching (lectures, problem classes) could potentially take place either in South Kensington or in White City.  In 2017-18, we successfully introduced a new timetable of alternating lab/lectures weeks for Year 3 which will avoid the need for student travel between sites during the day.

What about staff and postgraduate teaching assistants?

A core group of teaching and support staff will remain at South Kensington to support the students based there, and they will be joined during term-time by staff and postgraduates involved in teaching whose main base is at White City.

What will happen to Chemistry in South Kensington?

Chemistry teaching will retain levels 1-3 of the main Chemistry building and access to the lecture theatres in RCS1. Improvements to current teaching facilities are underway and there will be new study space and tutorial rooms for 2018-19. Looking further ahead, preliminary planning is underway for major new teaching facilities in South Kensington. When it comes to the design phase, we hope to get the views of a wide range of students and staff about what these facilities should look like.


How will links between South Kensington and White City be maintained?

We see students and staff on the two campuses as part of a single Department of Chemistry community and are working on ways of ensuring links between the two. There will be departmental events on both campuses and we will arrange regular visits to/events in White City for years 1 and 2 undergraduates.  

While we will aim to minimise travel during the day for both staff and students, there is already a regular free shuttle bus service between the two campuses with plans to increase the frequency of the service as demand increases.

What other activities will take place on the White City campus?

Plans for the part of the White City site situated north of the A40 are well advanced. Postgraduate accommodation is already open, with over 500 postgraduates and early-career researchers living on the new campus. The Molecular Science Research Hub is adjacent to the I-Hub, a flagship activity on the campus which will allow co-location with industrial partners. The latter building will host 1000 researchers and 50 companies providing a wonderful opportunity for the breakthroughs made in the Chemistry Department to be translated and commercialised. This innovation ecosystem at White City will add significant value to the student learning experience and better prepare our graduates for the future. The Michael Uren Centre for Biomedical Engineering will also be situated on the same site, and a new accommodation tower is well advanced. Just to the south, The Invention Rooms provide an exciting venue for the College’s Advanced Hackspace and outreach activities. 

Proximity to the Hammersmith Hospital and its research complex which are only 5 minutes away will also ensure that our research feeds into healthcare. Overall, the opportunity is unique - in time, the White City campus will be equal in size and scope to its South Kensington counterpart.

What facilities will be available on the Campus?

Information on campus facilities can be obtained here. In addition, there are numerous cafes, restaurants and shops at the nearby White City Place and Westfield London.  

How can I contribute?

We welcome comments, questions and suggestions and look forward to working with students, staff and friends of the Department to shape our future. If you have suggestions, questions or comments, please email or Prof Alan Armstrong