Imperial researcherImperial is a major research university. We’re a member of the Russell Group, and have the highest proportion of "world leading" and "internationally excellent” research of any major UK university, according to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014.

Factors that contribute to our world leading reputation

World leading expertise

High impact research

From Fleming's discovery of Penicillin and Gabor's invention of holography, to Kibble’s contribution to the Higgs boson and Stevens’ work on rapid testing for AIDS and malaria, Imperial’s research has been changing the world for well over 100 years.

We remain committed to addressing some of the world’s biggest challenges as we channel our expertise into making the world a healthier, safer and cleaner place to live.

Imperial has the greatest concentration of high impact research of any major UK university, according to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014.

The College is a truly global community, attracting the best people from around the world to work with us. Our researchers collaborate on a wide range of international projects and partnerships with institutions across the globe.

Explore current examples of the impact of our research.

Cross-disciplinary working

As well as research that crosses international boundaries, we're particularly well known for our support of research that spans different subject fields.

We offer funding, infrastructure and cultural encouragement to bring researchers together across the disciplines to explore different approaches to solving a problem. The result is a dynamic culture of discovery which you will be an important part of.

World leading staff

As a postgraduate student you will be part of a highly respected research community. Our academic staff include some of the world's most renowned scientists, medics and engineers, who come here from across the globe and contribute diverse perspectives, new ideas, and fresh approaches to solving complex problems:

  • Emeritus Professor John Burland in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who oversaw an 11-year project to straighten the Leaning Tower of Pisa, saving it from collapse
  • former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Health and UK Global Ambassador for Health and Life Sciences, Professor Lord Ara Darzi
  • Fields medallist Professor Simon Donaldson in the Department of Mathematics, who received the 2014 'Breakthrough' $3m (£1.8m) prize and trophy for "new revolutionary invariants of four-dimensional manifolds"
  • Professor Michele Dougherty, a Principal Investigator on the Cassini spacecraft, orbiting Saturn, and on the JUICE spacecraft, due to reach Jupiter’s largest moon in around 2030, who was awarded the Royal Astronomical Society Gold Medal in 2017
  • Professor Vernon Gibson, visiting Professor in the Department of Materials, who took up the appointment of Chief Scientific Adviser at the Ministry of Defence on 2 July 2012
  • Dr Eva-Maria Graefe from the Mathematical Physics research group, one of four scientists from a list of 280 promising female scientists to be awarded a fellowship from cosmetics firm L’Oréal for her work in quantum mechanics
  • former president – now a vice-president – of the Royal Meteorological Society, climate physicist Professor Joanna Haigh
  • Professor Dame Julie Higgins, Senior Research Investigator in the Department of Chemical Engineering, who pioneered the use of a technique called neutron scattering to investigate materials, particularly polymers
  • Emeritus Professor Sir Peter Knight, Senior Research Investigator in the Department of Physics, who was until December 2010 chair of the Defence Scientific Advisory Council at the UK Ministry of Defence, remains a Government science advisor and was a Council member of the Science and Technology Facilities Council until 2012
  • Professor Sir John Pendry, known for his work on the 'invisibility cloak' and the perfect lens, who was awarded the 2014 Kavli Prize in Nanoscience in honour of his contributions to nano-optics
  • Professor Molly Stevens, who received the 2012 EU40 award for best materials scientist in Europe under the age of 40 and is developing new biomedical materials to help the body repair itself
  • Regius Professor Chris Toumazou, developer of one of the world’s first cochlear implants, enabling deaf people to hear
  • Professor Tejinder (Jim) Virdee in the Department of Physics, who is best known for originating the concept and overseeing the construction of Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider
  • Lord Robert Winston, Professor of Science and Society and Emeritus Professor of Fertility Studies, known for his many TV documentaries like the BBC's Child of our Time
  • Sir Magdi Yacoub, Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the National Heart and Lung Institute, who established the largest heart and lung transplantation programme in the world and developed novel operations for a number of complex congenital heart anomalies
  • Professor Barbara Bain, who received a lifetime achievement award from the British Society for Haematology in 2017 for her exceptional contributions to the field throughout her career
  • Professor Sanjeev Gupta, a scientist and long-term Science Planner on NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover mission, which is currently exploring Gale Crater
  • Professor Guang-Zhong Yang, Director of Imperial's Hamlyn Centre, was awarded a CBE in 2017 for his contributions to biomedical engineering

Research in action

The College invests in lots of ways to bring your research to life to increase its impact.

Fringe and Festival

Postgraduate students, alongside our academics and undergraduate students, make a significant contribution to our annual Imperial Festival and our term-time Imperial Fringe events.

These public engagement activities are designed to provide opportunities for students, staff and the general public to meet our researchers and discuss their work.

Research expeditions

Our Exploration Board aims to support projects that strike a balance between scientific research and an adventurous holiday. Past expeditions have seen our students:

  • scale the big walls in Yosemite National Park, California
  • live for a month, unsupported, on the ice and rock of the rarely explored territories of the Saint Elias Range in Alaska
  • explore white water kayaking in remote parts of the Peruvian Andes

Public lectures programme

Our public lecture series gives you the chance to hear from world renowned scientists. Recent speakers include three Nobel Laureates:

  • Michael Levitt (Stanford University School of Medicine), who won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
  • Professor Serge Haroche (Collège de France), who won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics
  • Professor Brian Josephson (University of Cambridge), who won the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physics

All our new professors are also invited to give an inaugural lecture to celebrate their promotion. These events are a great way of getting to know a professor and their area of expertise, and what motivates them in life and work.

Doctoral training centres

Centres for Doctoral Training and Doctoral Training Partnerships

We want to train our postgraduates to tackle society’s big challenges in a way that draws on the talent and imagination housed across the College. One way in which we do this is through our government-funded Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs).

Imperial is home to 12 of the UK’s 115 Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council-funded CDTs – more than any other UK institution. We're also home to a number of Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs), funded by other government research councils.

Both types of training centre offer a new way of achieving your PhD. CDT research tends to be more focused, whereas research within a DTP can span a wide variety of areas. Each CDT and DTP recruits a cohort of PhD students every year. Mirroring the increasingly collaborative nature of modern science by bringing together experts from across a broad spectrum, they offer postgraduate training, reworked for the 21st century.

The CDT/DTP experience

Female engineering studentRather than working towards a PhD largely independently for three years, studying in a CDT or DTP means working alongside a tightly knit cohort of peers from different disciplines.

Each cohort starts at the same time with a one-year MSc or MRes. This is an intensive year, with taught elements and assessed work to bring you up to speed with the cutting edge science in the CDT/DTP’s core area.

You also complete an individual research project, lasting around nine months for MRes students and four months if you’re doing an MSc.

If you successfully pass this first year, you continue your research into your three-year PhD project. Here you’ll work alongside your peers, researchers in other departments, other universities and industry, under the supervision of at least two supervisors from different disciplines within the Centre.

You will receive training from the Graduate School throughout your programme to consolidate important transferable skills that are all part of the CDT/DTP experience, such as communication, team building, and management and leadership. This also helps you to form bonds within your cohort group, supporting each other through the experience and drawing on each other's expertise.

White City

A major new campus

We're investing £3bn in a brand new campus, close to our South Kensington home.

An on-going development, White City Campus is a 25-acre campus in the White City area of London – named after the white marble of the pavilions built for the 1908 summer Olympics and the 1909 Imperial International Exhibition.

It provides a base for researchers, businesses and partners to work alongside each other, with the aim of accelerating the translation of our research into tangible social and economic benefits.

Our nearby Hammersmith Campus allows unique opportunities to further the College's extensive work in healthcare translation and collaboration with the NHS.

Students from the Department of Chemistry will be among the first to take advantage of the site. The new Molecular Sciences Research Hub will be home to the Department’s research and a base for its postgraduate research student community. Expected to open in 2018, it will provide a new way of working for up to 800 molecular scientists, clinicians, engineers and commercial partners.

It is due to be followed in 2019 by the Michael Uren Biomedical Engineering Research Hub, which will pioneer new approaches to biomedical research and the development of new and affordable medical technology.

The new campus also allows us to expand the facilities and support we offer our student entrepreneurs. The Invention Rooms, opening in 2017, will contain an advanced hackspace for members of the College, and a mixture of workshops and interactive spaces where members of the local community can connect with the College’s research through a series of programmes and activities. The I-HUB, our new translation and innovation hub, is already open and providing a place for start-ups and major technology partners to work alongside members of our academic community and gain access to laboratories, incubators and flexible workspace.

Plans for the site include a publicly accessible square, accommodation, leisure and retail facilities, a conference centre, and homes.

Find out more about White City.

Commercialising research

An enterprise culture

Within the university sector, Imperial has led the way in technology transfer and commercialisation of ideas. We provide the support and infrastructure to set up businesses and license technologies, helping our research to reach the people who need and want it the most.

If you're a budding entrepreneur or innovator, you'll have every opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills and experience you need to bring your ideas to life.

Imperial Innovations

Imperial Innovations is on hand to help turn academic research into commercially viable ventures. Their dedicated technology transfer team works with both staff and student inventors at Imperial throughout this process, leading ultimately to the licensing of your technology to industry partners, or the creation of a new business.

They also have a ventures team to invest in opportunities based on intellectual property developed at, or associated with the academic community at Imperial and the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and UCL. 

Working with Imperial Innovations, we have created spin-out companies that have gone on to raise over £600m since 2006.