School of Physics and Astronomy, Queen Mary University of London

The School of Physics and Astronomy has a reputation for excellence in both research and teaching. We are located in the G O Jones building, which was extensively refurbished in 2014 to provide a pleasant, modern environment for the School. We are proud of our diverse and inclusive culture and strive to provide a nurturing environment for both study and research, providing opportunities for all to reach their full potential. There is a busy schedule of research seminars, colloquia, meetings and workshops and social events, a series of supportive policies (see below), a successful peer mentoring scheme, and the PsiStar physics society is extremely active with around 200 members.

About SPA

We offer a range of degree programmes and qualifications available at undergraduate, MSc and PhD levels. These degree programmes reflect our research specialisms: astronomy, condensed matter and materials, theoretical physics and particle physics.

Each of the four research groups has dedicated resources, attracting funding from a variety of sources, including 3 prestigious ERC grants. We perform a range of world-leading fundamental (blue-skies) and applied research and have a long and successful cooperation with the industries closely related to our main research activities. Moreover, we are actively developing multidisciplinary collaborations which span from the traditional areas of science to opening new opportunities between academia, the industry, government services, science, and humanities. Our PhD students are given comprehensive training, furnishing them with a range of transferable skills, and are fully integrated into the research groups.

We have an active outreach programme, engaging with our local community and society at large to deliver engaging physics and astronomy activities to inspire the next generation of scientists. In particular, we strive to attract under-represented members of the community and are fully engaged with the IoP JUNO initiative to address the gender imbalance in Physics departments. Our current undergraduate cohort is ~27% female, a little above the national average. We are also actively engaged with the QMUL Athena Swan initiative.

Students SPA

Supportive policies

In addition to the QMUL-wide policies in support of equalityflexible working, a generous maternity package and access to an on-site nursery with discounted rates, the SPA have implemented a number of school specific policies to enhance the working environment and support excellence from all members of the school.

The School supports Flexible Working for all staff and facilitates this by requiring meetings to be held within core hours (10am-4pm). Professional Staff are able to adjust their daily hours by arrangement with their line managers and academic staff organise their own time as appropriate around teaching or administrative commitments.

We are also proud to offer our MaternityPlus initiative: supporting female academics taking maternity leave for the first time in their role with up to 15 months funding for a Research Associate. As well as continuing the day-to-day research, the Research Associate will help with postgraduate supervision, maintain contact with collaborators, keep abreast of developments in the field and assist the academic in returning to work after her leave. All staff returning to work after a prolonged period of absence, and new academics, will be given lighter teaching and administrative loads and other factors are also considered (eg. priorities requests for PhD studentships).

Building SPA

We take a strong interest in the professional development of all staff members. In addition to participation in the QMUL-wide appraisal scheme, all academics are offered one-to-one meetings with the Head of School and assignment of a mentor in addition to their line manager. Staff are encouraged to continue their professional development throughout their career and School will provide funding for all reasonable requests for training courses etc. New academics are also required to pass the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP), and are supported by a lighter teaching load and dedicated probation mentor as they work towards this award offered through the Centre for Academic and Professional Development.

The School operates a Workload Allocation Model, which is regularly reviewed to ensure all staff are fairly credited for their teaching and administrative efforts.