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Optics and Photonics at Imperial College

Imperial College London offers a postgraduate course in Optics and Photonics. The knowledge of optics is depended upon by applications as diverse as medical diagnostics, telecommunication and environmental sensing. Imperial offers an advanced course in optics for more than eighty years. Imperial is one of the largest centres for optics research and application in the UK.

The course incorporates a significant amount of laboratory work with various experiments ranging from introductions to key optical techniques and tools to building and designing a working optical system. Students also have an opportunity to undertake a self-study project in an area of their choice. Students finish with a four-month full-time project that can be in an academic research group, in industry or abroad.

The course benefits qualified students with a first degree in mathematics, physics or electrical engineering. It is also suitable for candidates who produce other evidence of appropriate qualifications. The duration of the course is one year, full-time and begins in October. A part-time course of two-year duration is available for students who are working for an appropriate organization in the optics field.

The college offers a broad range of optical and core courses, taught by experts in the field, allowing students to develop particular knowledge across the broad range of optics. Graduate students from this course may apply their knowledge in a wide range of industrial context and in a research environment.

The major coursework takes place in the first two terms. The first term comprises foundation courses and laboratory work. In the second term, students choose a further eighty hours of lectures from the option courses available. Students have laboratory project to design and build a working optical system. The laboratory work is recognized as an essential element of the course and students shall be required to undertake a total of 160 hours.

The college organizes seminars where industrial specialists are invited who provide examples of scientific innovation and entrepreneurship in industry and research. A self-study activity in second term is the introduction to project work and is modified to encourage initiative and self-sufficiency in the learning process. It is evaluated by an oral presentation and written report. This is one of the many activities in which transferable skills are honed. Students shall spend the months of May to September on a key project that is often executed in industry.

The MSc in Applied Photonics focuses upon the optics in science and technology Erasmus Mundus Master's degree that is a collaborative programme comprising five European universities. This programme is pursued over two academic years with one year spent at two different universities in the consortium.


The written exams are held in January and May while the laboratory work is continually evaluated during the course. The final project is examined by a dissertation submitted in September and oral presentations.

Core Modules

  • Imaging
  • Lasers
  • Optical measurement and devices
  • Optical communications physics
  • Self-study project
  • Laboratory work
  • Four-month research project

Optional Modules

  • Laser optics
  • Biomedical optics
  • Non-linear optics
  • Laser technology
  • Optical design
  • Fibre technology
  • Optical displays
  • Optical design laboratory
  • Photonics structures
  • Optoelectronic components and devices
  • Quantum optics

Note: It must be noted that optional modules are subject to change.

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