University life offers many new opportunities and openings and we encourage you to make the most of everything on offer. However, it is essential that these things do not prevent your devoting sufficient time to studying. It is not sufficient just to get by, attending lectures and other teaching activities without putting in the necessary private study to consolidate what you are learning. The evidence is very clear that people who do not spend enough time on private study will struggle to keep up to speed. Remember that you should expect to put in roughly one hour of private study for each hour of timetabled activity, making a working week of around 35-40 hours throughout the academic year.
Other useful information
Project Open Days
Year on year, the display of completed projects by first year students towards the end of the academic year is a delight. You have done something where only you and your lab partner are the experts and you have an opportunity to impress the visitors and, with the Physics written examinations over, the time to think through what you are doing. There is a report to write and a display to make, but there is also the opportunity to do something really original, something which makes those chores less of a nuisance and ends the year on a high.
These talks are aimed primarily at first year students but students from other years are encouraged to come along as well. They generally take place on Thursdays at 5pm but sometimes are scheduled for other days/times. They are always followed by a social gathering with drinks and nibbles.
The world leading research going on at Imperial College is one of the key factors in students choosing to study here. The Research Frontiers lectures are an opportunity for you to find out something about the research going on right under your nose here at the Blackett Laboratory. The department has nine research groups covering all the main areas of modern physics. Each research group takes responsibility for one Research Frontiers talk. They nominate an exciting speaker and encourage their staff and PhD students to attend the lecture and to mingle with students at the social gathering after it. This is a golden opportunity for students to meet staff and find out what real research is like. If you are interested in looking for a UROP placement within the department this might be one of the best ways of making contacts with members of staff.
On Tuesday evenings from 4 to 6pm first year students will have an opportunity to take part in the Horizons programme. This is an initiative aimed at encouraging students to look beyond the narrow confines of their chosen subject of study. Although participation is voluntary, it is likely to become compulsory in future. There will be four strands:
- Business & Professional Skills,
- Global Challenges,
- Languages and Global Citizenship
- Science, Culture and Society
For Year 2 Horizons will take place on Monday evenings and for years 3 and 4 on Thursday evenings.
Centre for Academic English
The Centre for Academic English offers a pre-sessional programme and in-sessional courses, workshops, consultations and other resources to help students develop their academic language and literacy and to help them successfully complete their studies. In addition, they offer classes focused on everyday English for different social contexts to enhance students' communication skills and employability.
Many students have financial worries and part-time jobs during term time are growing in significance. At some level this can be taken as indicating greater maturity, but if a job takes up more than a few hours per week, NOT per day, or interferes with “contact hours” (lectures, lab, classworks, tutorials, office hours) then it is a false economy which will adversely affect the quality of your degree and thus your future earning power. Undue time spent on jobs during the Easter vacation is also unwise – this time should be devoted to revision. It is not just a matter of study hours being replaced but that paid work plus revision leads to fatigue and affects your intellectual abilities when you most need them.
During the summer vacation, when the pressure is lowest, it is often possible to find physics-related work at College under the UROP scheme, elsewhere (including abroad) with IAESTE, or in industry or the financial sector, via the careers advisers. Summer placements are very popular and often snapped up early, so make your enquiries several months in advance to avoid disappointment.
See also the Imperial College document: Policy on employment during studies (PDF).