Undergraduate Handbook


Welcome from the Head of School

Important notes

This handbook should be used together with the Academic Regulations and the Student Guide. This handbook provides information specific to the School of Physics and Astronomy, while the Student Guide gives information common to all students at Queen Mary. The Academic Regulations provide detailed information on progression, award and classification requirements.

Please note that nothing in this handbook overrides the Academic Regulations, which always take precedence.

You will receive a copy of the Student Guide at the start of the academic year. It is also available online.

The Academic Regulations are available online.

This handbook is available in large print format and other formats. If you would like a large print copy or other formats or please contact Maggi Lowe, Student Support Officer.

The information in this handbook is correct as of September 2017. In the unlikely event of substantial amendments to the material, the School of Physics and Astronomy will inform you of the changes.

QMUL cannot accept responsibility for the accuracy or reliability of information given in third party publications or websites referred to in this handbook.

This Handbook is a concise source of information about the School. If the information you want is not here, please tell us so that we can include it next year. Comments and suggestions should be addressed to Gary Welch or to Maggi Lowe.

Semester Times and Dates

Queen Mary Calendar

Queen Mary operates two twelve week semesters, each corresponding approximately to one term, followed by a six week examination period. 

The semester dates for 2017-18 are as follows:

Semester One

  • 18 September - 15 December 2017
  • Welcome Week starts 18 September 2017
  • Teaching starts 25 September 2017
  • Reading Week starts 6 November 2017

Semester Two

  • 8 January - 29 March 2017
  • Reading Week starts 19 February 2017
  • Bank Holidays: 30 March and 2 April 2018

Semester Three

  • Revision week: 24 April - 28 April 2017
  • Examination Period: 2 May - 9 June 2017
  • Bank holidays: 7 and 28 May 2018

Queen Mary ID Card

When you have completed your enrolment you will be given a Queen Mary ID card which will serve as both your library card and an identification card. You are required to have this card on display at all times whilst on campus. If you do not produce this card upon request and satisfy staff that it is your card through comparison of your face and the photograph you may be required to leave campus.

The card shows your student number – located in the middle right hand side of the card. You must take your card into all examinations and display it on your examination desk for inspection.

The card also serves as your library card and as an access card to buildings. You will need your card to access all corridors in the G O Jones Building and you will not be able to visit academic offices without touching your card to the magnetic locks at the end of each corridor.

It is vital that you keep your card safe and with you at all times whilst on campus. If you lose your card, or if your card is stolen, you should contact the Registry as soon as possible. A fee may be charged to replace lost Queen Mary ID cards.

QMUL Student Guide

Each year Queen Mary publishes a student  guide covering key policies and procedures for students, plus some general information about the university.  The 2017-18 publication can be found here.


MySIS is Queen Mary’s student information system, as such is stores all your contract details, examination results, module choices and so forth. The login portal can be accessed through https://mysis.qmul.ac.uk/. You will be sent your MySIS login information by central Queen Mary administration and if you have any problems accessing MySIS you should follow the contact instructions on the MySIS login portal.

It is important that you log in to MySIS to update your contact details whenever they change (particularly mobile telephone numbers as these tend to change frequently).

You will also need to login to MySIS to choose your module choices each year. Details of this procedure will be sent to you at the appropriate time.


You can view your attendance and homework marks online by visiting the MySMP website:  https://mysmp.ph.qmul.ac.uk/

Attendance is updated on a weekly basis. If your most recent marks are not yet appearing, this means that the lecturer has not yet uploaded them onto the system so please try again in a few days.


The School will normally contact you via your Queen Mary email address so it is important that you check this account at least once a day. We will also contact you via telephone if we have an urgent message to convey so please make sure you keep your contact details up to date on MySIS. Other ways to keep up to date with events in the School include following us on Twitter at twitter.com/PhysicsatQM or through our Facebook page.

Using Queen Mary email

You will be allocated a Queen Mary email address by IT Services and this email will be the primary means of communication between you and the university. You must check this email once a day for communications. Information about examinations, timetable changes, assessment and so forth will be sent to your Queen Mary email address on a regular basis and it is vital that you check your account regularly. You can arrange for all emails to be automatically forwarded from a Queen Mary address to your personal account.

Email Etiquette

The volume of email traffic means that we have to ask students to meet some minimum standards in the emails that they send to staff. We therefore ask you to consider the following details before sending emails. Learning how to properly formulate written requests is also a vital part of developing your future employability.

If you are contacting the School by email you should comply with the following guidelines.

  • Enter the nature of the enquiry in the subject line (for example, ‘Enquiry about internship’).
  • Include your student number and both your forename and surname in the email sign off.
  • Always address the email to the recipient, i.e. Dear Professor Shoote and always sign-off i.e. With best wishes, Jonathan.
  • Always formulate emails in clear well-written English and do not use text speak or slang. Emails that are not properly written will be returned to you for rewriting.
  • If you do not include appropriate information in your email it may not be replied to.
  • Any email that you send to the School may be added to your student file.

If you have a question for your module organiser you should always try to speak to them during their office hours. Office hours are designated periods of time (normally two hours a week) when academic staff are available to discuss academic issues with their students. The best way to enquire about any questions that you may have is to attend the office hours. Staff are not required to read emails over the weekend.

The administration area is open from 09.00-17.00 Monday to Friday and we are always happy to answer your questions in person.

Academic Advisers and Student Support Officer

On joining the School of Physics and Astronomy you will be assigned to a member of the academic staff, who will act as your academic adviser. Your adviser has the dual role of supervising your academic progress and also providing pastoral support. Where possible you will keep the same adviser throughout your degree programme, however it will be necessary to reassign students when a member of staff goes on sabbatical.

The principal academic duties of the adviser are:

  • to advise you on your choice of modules, ensuring that the proposed programme has coherence, especially important when you are contemplating modules from other disciplines.
  • to monitor progress in cases of unexplained absence, failure to produce coursework on time, and prolonged illness.
  • to provide feedback on your academic performance.

Senior Tutor

Professor Steve Thomas is the Senior Tutor. The Senior Tutor has overall responsibility for academic support and pastoral care within the School. The Senior Tutor also has a key role in overseeing the School’s attendance policy. If you have any problems that cannot be resolved by your adviser or the Student Support Officer you should contact the Senior Tutor.

Student Support Officer

Gary Welch is the School’s Teaching and Support Manager. Gary is responsible for coordinating the School’s student support and is available to discuss any problems with students, together with the Student Support Officer, Maggi Lowe.

If you are having any difficulties at all with your programme of studies please let us know. We are here to help and can provide you with guidance and support. If you do not feel comfortable approaching any of the above people you can always talk to someone else in the School who you have found supportive (such as a module organiser or seminar tutor).


Pastoral Bookings can be made here

QM Physics mobile App

QM Physics mobile App for iPhone and Android is now available online.

Attendance and Absence Reporting

Please make sure to read and understand our Attendance Policy. This is related to our Academic Engagement Policy which can be found here.

If you are unable to attend your set modules for any reason, you must submit the online absence report form.


Queen Mary's Physics and Astronomy society, PsiStar, is for students with an interest in physics who want to share ideas, gain a better understanding of the natural world and experience some of London's great attractions.

Over the last year we have held a number of events including trips to the Science Museum Lates, bowling and a Christmas party to give just a few examples. At the end of the year 20 members of PsiStar went on a three-day trip to CERN where they were shown around CMS as well as exploring what Geneva has to offer.

This year we are hosting even more activities including a physics and astronomy ball, presentations from guest speakers, quizzes, as well as re-tracing our steps to CERN.

How to get Involved

Becoming a member of PsiStar is simple. You can join online by visiting www.qmsu.org or pop in to the Students' Union located at the Blomeley Centre. Signing up costs just £5.

If you have any questions about PsiStar itself or suggestions of possible events, please do not hesitate to contact us by email or by speaking to one of the committee (Emma Galt or Thomas Charman)  who can usually be found around the physics department

PsiStar is also on facebook.

We have a dedicated newsletter. Please click here or visit this page to subscribe.

Exams, Assessment and Regulations

Important Documents

Please remember to discuss any change in your programme/student status with your Academic Advisor. You may also wish to discuss interrupting/withdrawing with the Student Support Officer before making your final decision, as they can go through all of your options with you. All forms should be submitted to the Admin office for processing.

Change of Programme Form

Interruption Form

Withdrawal Form

Extenuating Circumstances Form (in word and pdf format)

Advice and Guidance

Safety and Security

Everyone working or studying at Queen Mary has a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of themselves and others and it is essential that you realise the extent of that responsibility.

The health and safety procedures adopted at Queen Mary are set out in detail in the College Health and Safety Policy. In general students should take all reasonable steps to ensure their own safety and that of others who may be affected by their activities. In particular, students must:

  • comply with all relevant safety rules and arrangements issued by the College and with all statutory regulations,
  • report unsafe conditions or activities to their supervisor or appropriate member of staff
  • make proper use of any necessary safety measures, protective clothing or equipment,
  • not interfere with or misuse anything that is provided in the interest of health and safety,
  • seek the advice of the School where there is any special personal or medical condition which may affect safe working

It is impossible to indicate all of the possible hazards which might arise during laboratory work. Where necessary the member of staff teaching a particular course will give you details of any special hazards and the correct procedures to adopt during a practical exercise. Laboratory work must only be carried out when there is an academic supervisor or a teaching laboratory technician present.

The GO Jones (Physics and Astronomy)  building

Safety and Security

Emergency Procedures

IT and Computers

General Information

Student email accounts - please note that all students should check their QM email on a daily basis (or set up forwarding to a preferred email)  as it will be our main channel of communication. 

Borland C++





Students' Union

You said, we did.

You Said: It would be really useful if we could alert the school of any absences online rather than via email.

We Did: Our online absence reporting form is now live on our website alongside a new detailed attendance policy.

You Said:  I find some of the maths we are expected to know for intercollegiate modules is quite complicated and that this gap needs to be bridged.

We Did: There is a new maths module that is currently in development to capture any topics that need further explanation.

You Said: The four hour block of lectures can be overwhelming and leave us feeling drained.    

We Did: Wherever possible we have changed this block so that you have more of a break between lectures.

You Said: Some markers do not give nearly enough feedback on coursework’s leaving us unable to see where we went wrong.                

We Did: Formal training for all markers has been implemented so standards are now very high and you should expect a great improvement.

You Said:  On some courses the excel element is quite a struggle, we would appreciate some help with this.

We Did: We implemented excel training sessions for any students that felt it would be of use to them.

You Said: We find PowerPoint heavy lectures very dull and not helpful.

We Did: This complaint was passed on at the teaching committee and wherever possible this was considered and acted upon.


Juno Champion

The school holds Juno Champion status, the highest award of this IoP scheme to recognise and reward departments that can demonstrate they have taken action to address the under-representation of women in university physics and to encourage better practice for both women and men.