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Imperial College London
Motto Scientia imperii decus et tutamen
Knowledge is the adornment and protection of the Empire
Established 8 July 1907[1]
Type Public
Endowment £276.6 million (2008/09)[2]
Rector Sir Keith O'Nions (acting)
Visitor The Lord President of the Council ex officio
Staff approx. 8,000 (2007/08)
Students 13,410[3]
Undergraduates 8,350[3]
Location London, UK
Campus Urban
Affiliations Russell Group
Association of MBAs
IDEA League
Association of Commonwealth Universities
'Golden Triangle'
Oak Ridge Associated Universities
European Quality Improvement System
Imperial College London.svg

Imperial College London (officially The Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine as titled in its Royal Charter)[1] is a British university in London specialising in science, engineering, medicine and business.[4]

Imperial was placed 5th overall in the world in the 2009 Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings of universities worldwide,[5] and was tied with University of Oxford but lagged behind University College London and University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. In the Shanghai Jiao Tong Academic Ranking of World Universities it came in at 26th.[6]

Imperial College London is a member of the Russell Group of Universities, a part of the Golden Triangle, the IDEA League, the European University Association, AMBA, and the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

Imperial's main campus is located in South Kensington in Central London, on the boundary between the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the City of Westminster (the Knightsbridge part), with its front entrance on Exhibition Road. Including Imperial's other campuses, there is a total of 525,233 square metres (5,653,560 sq ft) of property which is the largest operational estate of any higher education institution in the UK.[7]

Formerly a constituent college of the University of London, Imperial became independent of the university on 8 July 2007, the 100th anniversary of its founding.[8]



Royal School of Mines entrance.

The origins of the various constituent elements of Imperial College can be traced back as far as the fifteenth century. The College of St Gregory and St Martin at Wye was originally founded in 1447 as a seminary, with an agricultural college being established at Wye in 1890s after the removal of the theological college. Wye College merged with Imperial College in 2000.[9]

Charing Cross Hospital, Westminster Hospital and St Mary's Hospital medical schools were opened in 1823, 1834 and 1854 respectively.[10][11][12]

The Royal School of Mines was founded by Sir Henry de la Beche in 1851. This laid one of the foundation stones of scientific teaching in Britain. The Royal College of Science was established in 1881 and the City and Guilds College in 1884.[10]

In 1907, the newly established board of education found that a need for higher technical education was necessary and a proposal to merge the City and Guilds College, the Royal School of Mines and the Royal College of Science was approved and passed, creating what is now the Imperial College of London. The signing of the Royal Charter granted by Edward VII was officially done on July 8 of 1907. The newly founded Imperial College was integrated into the University of London.

The main campus of Imperial College is built on what was known as the Imperial Institute, which existed from 1887-1958. The Imperial Institute was an institution strongly biased towards scientific research that focused on industrial and commercial development that would benefit the Empire and its colonies

In later years, St Mary's Hospital Medical School (1988), the National Heart and Lung Institute (1995), and the Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School (1997) merged into the Imperial College School of Medicine, the fourth constituent college. The size of the Medical School was increased in 1997 with the merger with the Royal Postgraduate Medical School (RPMS) and the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and again in 2000 with a merger with the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology. Many medical academics were disturbed by the disappearance of the RPMS which had been a major force in British Medicine for decades.

Also in 2000, Imperial merged with Wye College, the University of London's agricultural college in Wye, Kent. It has been claimed that the merger might have been motivated by Imperial's interest in acquiring land owned by Wye College, rather than for academic reasons; Wye College accepted the merger because it was in financial difficulties. In December 2005, the college announced a science park programme at the Wye campus;[13] however, this was abandoned in September 2006 following local environmental complaints that this programme would have a negative impact on the surrounding countryside. Wye College will now be run by the University of Kent from September 2007 in association with Imperial College London and Wye College, graduates will receive a degree from the University of Kent and an Imperial Associateship of Wye College.[14]

In 1995, Imperial launched its own academic publishing house, Imperial College Press, in partnership with World Scientific.[15]

In 2002, the constituent colleges were abolished in favour of a new faculty structure. A merger with University College London was proposed in October that year, but was called off a month later after protests from staff over fear of redundancies.[16]

In 2003, the College was granted degree-awarding powers in its own right by the Privy Council. Exercising this power would be incompatible with remaining in the federal University of London; hence, on 9 December 2005, Imperial College announced that it would commence negotiations to secede from the federal University.[17]

The college became independent in July 2007 with the belief that its reputation exceeds other colleges of the University of London[18][19] and the first students to register for an Imperial College degree were postgraduates beginning their course in October 2007, with the first undergraduates enrolling for an Imperial degree in October 2008. The first group of students to be awarded the Imperial College degree by default commenced their studies in 2008, but students already registered were offered the option of choosing to be awarded a University of London degree or an Imperial College degree. The first undergraduates to be awarded Imperial College degrees graduated in 2008.

The College's official title is Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, which it used in public relations up to 2002, now it is only used in official documents and situations.


The Queen's Tower.

Imperial College's activity is centred on its South Kensington campus, situated in an area with a high concentration of cultural and academic institutions known as the Albertopolis; the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Royal College of Music, the Royal College of Art, the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Albert Hall are all nearby. Imperial College has two other major campuses — at Silwood Park (near Ascot in Berkshire) and at Wye (near Ashford in Kent). The Imperial College NHS Trust runs multiple hospitals throughout Greater London and various medic lectures are conducted within these hospitals, including St. Mary's Hospital, Charing Cross Hospital, Northwick Park Hospital & St. Mark's Hospital and Hammersmith Hospital. In 1997, the parliamentary Imperial College Act 1997 officially transferred all the obligations, powers and property of Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School, the National Heart and Lung Institute and the Royal Postgraduate Medical School to Imperial College. The expansion of the South Kensington campus in the 1960s absorbed the site of the former Imperial Institute, designed by Thomas Collcutt, of which only the 287 foot (87 m) high Queen's Tower remains among the more modern buildings.[20][21]

Extensive renovation continues throughout the College estate. Recent major projects include the Imperial College Business School, the Ethos sports centre, the Southside hall of residence and the Eastside hall of residence. Current major projects include the refurbishment of the Central Library and the reconstruction of the south-eastern quadrant of the campus.

Imperial College NHS Healthcare Trust and Hospitals affiliated with Imperial College London

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust was formed on 1 October 2007 by the merger of Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust (Charing Cross Hospital, Hammersmith Hospital and Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital) and St Mary's NHS Trust (St. Mary's Hospital and Western Eye Hospital) with Imperial College London Faculty of Medicine.[22] It is an academic health science centre and manages five hospitals: Charing Cross Hospital, Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital, Hammersmith Hospital, St Mary's Hospital, and Western Eye Hospital. The Trust is currently the largest in the UK and has an annual turnover of £800 million, treating more than a million patients a year. The Trust's chief executive, Professor Stephen Smith, was formerly the principal of the Faculty of Medicine of Imperial College London. The chair of the Trust is Lord Tugendhat.

Other (non-academic health science centres) hospitals affiliated with Imperial College include Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Royal Brompton Hospital, West Middlesex University Hospital, Hillingdon Hospital, Mount Vernon Hospital, Harefield Hospital, Ealing Hospital, Central Middlesex Hospital, Northwick Park Hospital, St.Peter's Hospital (UK)[23].


Imperial College London is among the most selective universities in the UK.[24] From 1999 to 2007 (dates of all the online available records), the overall acceptance rate of Imperial College programmes has been consistently below 20%,[25] and in 2007, the acceptance rate of the college for undergraduates was 15.3%.[26] The acceptance rate for postgraduate courses was 19.5%.[26] To apply to an Imperial undergraduate course, as with all other universities in the United Kingdom, one must apply through the UCAS system.

Most of Imperial's courses require 3 A grades at A Level, including Mathematics.

Imperial College, along with University College London[27] and the University of Cambridge[28] is one of the first universities in the UK to make use of the A* grade at A Level for admissions, with several courses requiring an A* in Mathematics.


Imperial College Admissions Test

Imperial announced in summer 2008 that it was exploring the possibility of entrance exams to help it select the most suitable students.[29] Since then, the College has been reviewing and piloting a range of assessment approaches, such as subject-specific tests, skills tests and motivation-based tests as part of enhanced interviews, and will continue to do so during the 2009-10 academic year. The Cambridge Thinking Skills assessment (TSA) was one test trialled on existing Imperial College students . No date is set for the implementation of any entrance exam for applicants. Medicine at Imperial already uses the BMAT as part of the selection process.

Academic structure

Royal School of Mines entrance and the Goldsmiths' wing, Prince Consort Road, London.

Imperial offers both undergraduate and postgraduate education, with its research and teaching organised into three faculties, each headed by a principal: Engineering, Medicine and Natural sciences. In addition to the three faculties, a business school exists as well as a Humanities department. However, the humanities department's main purpose is to provide elective subjects and language courses outside the field of science for students in the other faculties and departments. Students are encouraged to take these classes either for credit or in their own time, and in some departments this is mandatory.[30] Courses exist in a wide range of topics including philosophy, ethics in science and technology, history, modern literature and drama, art in the twentieth century, film studies.[31] Language courses are available in French, German, Japanese, Italian, Russian, Spanish, Arabic, Dutch, Mandarin Chinese and Urdu.[32] The humanities department also runs a full-time course in scientific translation.[33]

For the 2007-08 academic year, Imperial College had a total full-time student body of 12,319: 8741 undergraduate students and 3578 postgraduates. In addition there were 1036 part-time students, all postgraduates. 29% of all full-time students come from outside the European Union.[26]

Imperial's male:female ratio for undergraduate students is uneven at approximately 64:36 overall[26] and 10:1 in some engineering courses. However, medicine has an approximate 1:1 ratio with biology degrees tending to be higher.

A full list of undergraduate and postgraduate courses offered can be found here:[34][35]


Imperial's research income is among the largest in the UK – £255.5 million for 2007/08.[36] This includes Research Council grants, grants from charities and a larger sum from industry than any other British university. It also received the highest amount of total research income out of all the UK universities in 2003, at £153 million.

In the December 2001 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), 75% of staff achieved a 5* rating, the highest proportion in any UK university. The College was second in the country with an overall score of 6.68 out of 7.[37] The most recent RAE returned 26% of the 1225 staff submitted as being world-leading (4*) and a further 47% as being internationally excellent (3*).[37][38]

Imperial College has a dedicated technology transfer company known as Imperial Innovations. Imperial actively encourages its staff to commercialise its research and as a result has given rise to a proportionally large number of spin-out companies based on academic research.

Imperial College, in conducting research on Parkinson's disease and Multiple Sclerosis, hosts a brain bank consisting of brains donated by individuals affected with either of these diseases.[39] This brain bank is the largest in the world, consisting of 296 samples.[40]

Academic reputation

Recent tables show that, despite being purely science-based, it is maintaining a high league table position, whilst topping most of the engineering and medicine tables. Imperial remains the only university other than Oxford and Cambridge, to have held one of the top two positions in a major British university league table, coming second to Cambridge in The Times 1999 and 2000 tables, pushing Oxford to third place.

According to the most recent RAE 2008, five subjects including Pure Mathematics, Epidemiology and Public Health, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, and Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering are assessed to be the best in terms of the proportion of internationally recognised research quality.[41]

UK University Ranking[42][43][44][45]
2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996 1995 1994 1993
Times Good University Guide 3rd 3rd 3rd 3rd 3rd 3rd 3rd 3rd 3rd 2nd 2nd 2nd
Sunday Times University Guide 3rd 3rd 4th 4th 4th 3rd 3rd 4th 4th 4th 4th 4th 3rd
THES  ? 5th 3rd 3rd 3rd 3rd 4th
The Complete University Guide 3rd 3rd= 3rd
Guardian University Guide 8th 6th 3rd 3rd 5th 3rd 3rd 7th 4th
Daily Telegraph 3rd 3rd 3rd 5th 5th
FT Good University Guide 3rd[46] 3rd[47] 3rd[48] 3rd[49] 2nd
2009 2008 2007 2006 2005
THES - QS World University Rankings 5th[50] 6th[51] 5th[52] 9th[52][53] 13th[54]
Academic Ranking of World Universities 26th[55] 27th[6] 23rd[56] 23rd[57] 23rd[58]

Imperial is home to 15 Nobel Laureates and 2 Fields Medallists, and over 6,000 academic staff including 66 Fellows of the Royal Society, 71 Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering and 62 Fellows of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

Nearly three-quarters of the academics entered in the latest Research Assessment Exercise were in departments considered to be at least internationally outstanding – the highest proportion in any university.[59]

The Department of Computing (DoC) was rated best in the UK, surpassing University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory for the first time in 2007, for Computer science and Information technology in the Guardian University Guide (since 1 May 2007 it is assessed by the Guide under the 'Engineering: electronic and electrical' subject category due to its being part of the Faculty of Engineering).[60] THES placed the Computing department 4th in world rankings for Computer Science. Engineering students including DoC students have been recipients of the The Science, Engineering & Technology Student of the Year Awards in successive years including the Student of the Year award.[61][62][63][64]

The Financial Times placed Imperial College's Business School within the top 10 in Europe.[65] The Business School is also consistently ranked in the top 10 worldwide for entrepreneurship. The business school also offers a full time MBA that is ranked 17th in Europe by the Financial Times and a part time Executive MBA programme that is ranked 4th in Europe.

Teams from Imperial College won University Challenge in both 1996 and 2001.[66]

Furthermore, in terms of job prospects, Imperial is one of the best in the UK. The average starting salary of an Imperial graduate is £25,780 which is the highest of any other UK university [7] In 2009, the Sunday Times ranked Computing graduates from Imperial as earning the second highest average starting salary, £34,960,[67] after graduation, over all universities and courses.[68]


Imperial College main entrance

Imperial College owns and manages over thirty halls of residence in Inner London, Ealing, Ascot and Wye. Over three thousand rooms are available, guaranteeing first year undergraduates a place in College residences.

The majority of halls offer single or twin accommodation with some rooms having en suite facilities. Study bedrooms are provided with basic furniture and with access to shared kitchens and bathrooms. The majority of rooms come with internet access and access to the Imperial network. Most of them are considered among the newest student halls at London universities.

Most students in college or university accommodation are first-year undergraduates, since they are granted a room once they have selected Imperial College as their firm offer at UCAS. The majority of older students and postgraduates find accommodation in the private sector, help for which is provided by the College private housing office. However a handful of students may continue to live in halls in later years if they take the position of a "hall senior".

Imperial College Union

The students' union is run by five full-time sabbatical officers which are elected from the student body for a tenure of one year, as well as many permanent members of staff. The Union is given a large subvention by the College, much of which is spent on maintaining the various clubs and societies.

The Imperial College School of Medicine Students' Union, which was formed from the merger of St Mary's Hospital (London) Medical School and Charing Cross & Westminster Medical School, looks after the social, academic and welfare needs of the 2000 medical students within the faculty.

Clubs & Societies at Imperial

Imperial College Union has around 300 clubs and societies,[69] the largest number of any students' union in the United Kingdom.

Student Media

Imperial College Radio

Imperial College Radio (or ICRadio) was founded in November 1975 with the intention of broadcasting to the student halls of residence from a studio under Southside, actually commencing broadcasts in late 1976. It now broadcasts from the West Basement of Beit Quad over the internet[70] and, since 2004, on 1134 AM in Wye. The radio station has a library of over 51,000 tracks, which are searchable on their website.

In 2006 IC Radio received two nominations in the Student Radio Awards: Best Entertainment Show for Liquid Lunch[71] and Best Male Presenter for Martin Archer.[72]

Popular shows on IC Radio in recent years (2006/2007) include: Rocktopia, School Daze' (pop), 'Instru(Mental)' (dance), 'VPT'[73] (Entertainment/Shambles), 'Peter and James' [74]'Moon Unit'[75] and 'The Cornerstone'[76] (both of which play rock and alternative) and 'Album - A Discourse in Musical History'[77] (devoted to seminal albums).

stoic TV

stoic tv (Student Television of Imperial College) is Imperial College Union's TV station, founded in 1969 and operating from a small TV studio in the Electrical Engineering block. The department had bought an early AMPEX Type A 1-inch videotape recorder and this was used to produce an occasional short news programme which was then played to students by simply moving the VTR and a monitor into a common room. A cable link to the Southside halls of residence was laid in a tunnel under Exhibition Road in 1972. Besides the news, early productions included a film of the Queen opening what was then called College Block and interview programmes with DJ Mike Raven, Richard O'Brian and Monty Python producer Ian MacNaughton.

In 2006 it was named Best Broadcaster at NaSTA and also won awards for Best On-Screen Male and Best On-Screen Female. It now broadcasts from studios in the specially built media centre in the Student Union to the Junior Common Room and occasionally DaVinci's Bar. Programmes are also available to watch on their website.[78]

There is also a non-student Imperial College organisation called Media Services, whose main activity is producing videos of College events.


Published weekly, Felix is the free student newspaper of Imperial College London. It aims to be independent of both the College itself and also the Student Union. The editor is elected annually from the student body; the editorship is a full-time, sabbatical position. There is also a non-student Imperial College newspaper called Reporter, and London Student distributes on campus.

In 2006 and 2008, Felix won the Guardian Student Media Awards for Student newspaper of the year and Student journalist of the year.


Live![79] is an online student news source and forum run by the City and Guilds College Union. Live! also enables readers to view published articles from Livic, the monthly newspaper of CivSoc, the student society in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Content on Live! is text-based news, with one or more photographs per article to illustrate the event. At the start of 2007 the ability to display videos was added, increasing the breadth of its coverage. Co-operation with Imperial's student television station, stoic tv has led to the introduction of politically-focused video content on the site by syndicating weekly news bulletins and the "Ask the President" show. Live! was also named the best student website in the 2007 Guardian Student Media Awards.

Student and Staff Alumni

Imperial alumni include Physicist Abdus Salam biologist T. H. Huxley, pharmacologist Alexander Fleming and optics pioneer Harold Hopkins, alongside Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, author H. G. Wells, Ferrari Chief Designer Nicholas Tombazis and Queen guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May.

Friends of Imperial College

Friends of Imperial College[80] is an association with strong links into the college. It offers anyone interested in the great advances that are being made in science, medicine and technology the opportunity to learn more from leading figures in their fields. Friends provides opportunities for members and their guests to meet and talk with staff, students, alumni and other like-minded people in a programme of visits, talks and social events.


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  68. ^ Grimston, Jack (2009-09-13). "Cambridge economics graduates highest paid". London. Retrieved 2009-10-19.  
  69. ^ Imperial College Union
  70. ^ Imperial College Radio, London, UK
  71. ^ Liquid Lunch, IC Radio - Student Radio that Flows
  72. ^ Martin Archer: Presenter, Voiceover, DJ who is now a Radio Presenter on the [Kiss Network]
  73. ^ VPT, IC Radio - Professionally Unprofessional
  74. ^ Peter and James
  75. ^ Imperial College Radio, London, UK
  76. ^ Imperial College Radio, London, UK
  77. ^ Imperial College Radio, London, UK
  78. ^ stoic tv
  79. ^ Live! - The award-winning student news website of Imperial College
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External links


Coordinates: 51°29′54″N 0°10′37″W / 51.498308°N 0.176882°W / 51.498308; -0.176882


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