Imperial College London

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Imperial College London
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Imperial College London crest

Motto Scientia imperii decus et tutamen
Established 1907
Rector Sir Richard Sykes
Location London, United Kingdom
Students 10,731 total (3,238 postgraduate) (2003/4)
Faculty 2,856 (2003/4)
Member of University of London, Russell Group, AMBA, IDEA League
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Tanaka Business School, Imperial College

Imperial College London is a college of the University of London which focuses on science and technology, and is located in the South Kensington district of London. Although properly titled Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, since 1988 the college has adopted the style Imperial College London and prefers simply Imperial for short.

As a specialist science college, Imperial is often seen to enjoy a similar reputation in the United Kingdom as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has in the United States. To become more academically rounded, a merger with University College London was proposed in October 2002, but was called off a month later after protests from staff and students of both colleges. A 27m financial contribution to the college from alumnus Gary Tanaka in 2000 allowed the construction of a new building for the management school (now renamed the Tanaka Business School). The business school building provides the college with an official and imposing "Main Entrance" and was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 2004.

Imperial's scientific leaning gives rise to its biased male:female student ratio of approximately 65:35.

The main campus of the college is the South Kensington campus, and is situated near the Royal Albert Hall on the boundary of the City of Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The area is dense with institutions of learning: the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Royal College of Music and the Royal College of Art are all nearby (see Albertopolis). There are two other major campuses – at Silwood Park (near Ascot in Berkshire) and at Wye (near Ashford in Kent). There are various other small medical campuses dotted around Greater London.



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Royal School of Mines Entrance

The Imperial College was founded in 1907, upon the merger of the City and Guilds of London Institute, the Royal School of Mines and the Royal College of Science, although these entities continued as Constituent Colleges. It was granted a Royal Charter in July 1907. The expansion of the South Kensington campus in the 1960s absorbed the site of the former Imperial Institute, designed by Thomas Colcutt, of which only the 287-foot (85-metre) high Queen's Tower remains amongst the more modern buildings.

In later years, St. Mary's Hospital Medical school (1988), the National Heart and Lung institute (1995), Charing Cross and Westminster schools (1997) merged into the Imperial College School of Medicine, the fourth Constituent College. In 1997, the size of the Medical School was increased with the merger of Royal Postgraduate Medical School, and the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. In 2000, a merger with the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology expanded it even further.

Also in 2000, Imperial merged with Wye College, which at that time had a much lesser reputation than Imperial. A number of voices have opined that the merger may have been due to Imperial's wish to obtain the significant amount of land owned by Wye College rather than for academic reasons; similarly there have been suggestions that Wye College accepted the merger because it was in financial difficulties. Neither of these rumours can be confirmed.

In 2002, the constituent colleges were finally abolished in favour of a new faculty structure.

Rumours occasionally surface about a possible merger with the London School of Economics. Whilst the two institutions have often conducted joint ventures, there has been no significant progress towards a merger.

The college is a member of the Russell Group of Universities, AMBA, and is one of the four members of the IDEA League.


Imperial offers undergraduate and postgraduate education. Its research and teaching are organised into four faculties, each headed by a principal. The faculties include that of engineering, medicine, physical sciences, and life sciences. In addition to the four 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 fields of science for students in the other faculties and departments.

Academic and research staff number around 3,000. Of these, 53 are Fellows of the Royal Society, 57 are Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering and one Fields Medallist. Distinguished past members of the College include 14 Nobel Laureates and one Fields Medallist.


Imperial is consistently ranked in the top three in the country for academic prowess by newspaper league tables, in third place behind Cambridge and Oxford Universities in most of the latest tables. On occasion, Imperial has come second in these tables and has pushed Oxford University into third place.

The University is consistently recognised as one of the top three UK university institutions for research quality in its subject areas. League tables by the Times Higher Education Supplement ranked Imperial as 5th in the world for Engineering and IT, 10th in the world for science, and 14th in the world overall.


Imperial's research income is one of the largest in the UK – 167.2 million for 2002–03. This includes Research Council grants, grants from charities and a larger sum from industry than any other British university.

In the December 2001 Research Assessment Exercise, 75 per cent 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.


Imperial College graduates have, by far, the highest average starting salary among British graduates. This is partly due to higher London salaries, and also reflects the demand for technically knowledgeable graduates.


Imperial College Radio

Imperial College Radio was founded in 1978 and broadcasts on 999 AM to student residences on the South Kensington campus, and as of 2004 on 1134AM in Wye. It has also recently relaunched its website, with internet broadcasting and various competitions. The radio station has a collection of over 51,000 tracks, which are viewable on their website, via the Imperial College Union website.


STOIC (Student Television of Imperial College) is Imperial College's TV station. It broadcasts from the Student Union to the Junior Common Room, DaVinci's Bar and some nearby Halls of Residence.


Published weekly, Felix has recently changed from a magazine to a 'compact newspaper' format and is free to all Imperial College students. It aims to be independent of both the College itself and also the Student Union.

Student Achievements

Imperial College Boat Club is one of the most consistently successful rowing clubs in the country. Under the legendary coach Bill Mason, it achieved many wins at Henley Royal Regatta and provided many internationals and Olympians, including members of the gold medal winning eight at the Sydney Olympics: Simon Dennis and Louis Attrill.

Teams from Imperial have had a good record on the BBC quiz programme University Challenge, winning in 1996 and 2001, and coming in second place in 2002.

Student alumni

Staff alumni

External links

Recognized bodies of the University of London

Birkbeck | Goldsmiths | Heythrop | Imperial | Institute of Cancer Research | Institute of Education | King's | London Business School | LSE | London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine | Queen Mary | Royal Academy of Music | Royal Holloway | Royal Veterinary College | St George's | SOAS | School of Pharmacy | UCL

Listed bodies

British Institute in Paris | Courtauld Institute of Art | School of Advanced Study | University Marine Biological Station, Millport


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