Welcome to SEPnet. Whether you know us as the South East Physics Network, or the consortium of nine world-class universities that's changing the face of physics, explore more about how we're leading the way with high quality research, teaching and outreach activities.

Meet the people that are bringing SEPnet to life, discover more about our impressive reputation and study opportunities, and engage with our innovative programmes that bring the excitement of physics to students, teachers and employers alike. SEPnet is also the home of the European Masters in Physics (MSc) - your opportunity to enjoy the European method of study in the UK with compressed fees.


Connecting Industry and Researchers in Physics

A SEPnet Networking Event

Wednesday 16 September 17.00-20.00, University of Southampton

SEPnet’s Graduate Network (GRADnet) is organising a networking evening to facilitate collaboration and links between industry and physics postgraduate research students and researchers (PGRs).

Who should attend

SEPnet PGR students who want to meet employers from physics-related industries to find out about career opportunities, make contacts and explore research and business ideas.
SEPnet partner researchers who want to build links with industry to explore how their research can create impact.
SMEs, businesses and employers in physics-related industries interested in developing links with universities and recruiting physics graduates.

During the evening:

Hear from panellists Kathie Bowden of Institute for Environmental Analytics and UK Space Agency; Simon Crook of EPSRC; Anke Lohmann, KTN Head of Photonics & Quantum Technologies; Julian Potter of WP Thompson IP; Nick Walker of eOsphere; Andrew Witham of Symetrica and others talk about the benefits of knowledge exchange and what physics postgraduates and postdocs can offer industry.
Participate in a speed networking session. Build ongoing relationships between industry and researchers through placements, mentoring or research collaboration.

Refreshments will be provided.

How to register:

This event is FREE to attend.  Book early by clicking on the following link: http://bit.ly/1Kr2ij4.
For enquiries, contact gradnetadmin@sepnet.ac.uk


Reflecting Photonics IYL garden voted Best Garden

Designer Helen Elks-Smith’s Reflecting Photonics won a Gold medal and the People’s Choice Award at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) show at Tatton Park. The garden was inspired by the International Year of Light and the fibre optics work being carried out at University of Southampton. An outreach team of post-graduate students from Southampton took part in the event and spoke to over 2,000 people, handing out information on the garden and fibre optics research at Southampton.

Pearl John, Southampton’s SEPnet Outreach Officer and Public Engagement team leader for Physics and Astronomy, who has been working on the project said, "I'm very glad that the enthusiastic response we've had from people visiting the garden and talking to our outreach team. Having our outreach team there really helped the garden win the People's Choice Award for Best Garden."

The International Year of Light themed garden was also featured in a special BBC programme on the RHS Tatton Show, which can be seen here.

Juno Champion for QMUL

Queen Mary's School of Physics and Astronomy commended for commitment to gender equality

QMUL’s School of Physics and Astronomy has been awarded Juno Champion Status by the Institute of Physics (IOP) in recognition of action they have taken to address the under-representation of women in university physics. The school becomes only the 13th in the country to be awarded Champion Status, the highest of three levels awarded to those taking part in the IOP’s Project Juno.

SEPnet Software Bootcamp

Equipping physics students with industry-relevant technical skills.

SEPnet partner, Queen Mary’s School of Physics & Astronomy, organised a Software Bootcamp at QMUL’s Mile End campus in June. The event was attended by physics students from the SEPnet partner universities. The aim of the bootcamp was to equip students with technical skills needed by industry and provide an insight into the role of a software developer. Sean Cooper, 3rd year MSci Physics student at QMUL shares his experience of being thrown in the deep end of programming and what he learned.


GRADnet Summer School at IBM Hursley

The GRADnet Summer School took place at IBM's Hursley Laboratory on the  6-8th July 2015. The three day Residential School focused on the skills required for effective leadership and maximising the impact of physics research. In order to explore the technological, societal, economic, political impact of physics and of physicists, researchers discussed examples of how physics have made an impact on the world and what the future impact could be.  Experts from academia and industry presented specific case studies.

Thirty Five Physics PhD students from around the South East region attended and the overwhelming feedback has been positive.They gained tremendously from the IBM workshops: the Hackathon and Strategic Leadership challenges as well as the other team exercises including building a trebuchet from garden canes.

Physics Outreach Award at St Mary's

SEPnet would like to congratulate Dr Elisabetta Canetta on winning the Outstanding Performance Award for her outstanding Contribution to St Mary’s. Elisabetta has won this award in recognition of her ongoing efforts to build and grow a physics outreach programme at St Mary’s. Just this year Elisabetta has delivered activities in physics including a Solar Eclipse event, Physics Café talks, running the annual physics summer school for Year 12 students and running taster sessions for widening participation students. She has also been responsible for events which explore the interface between physics and theology, including a Physics and Faith workshop, and physics and philosophy. All of these have raised the profile of physics at St Mary’s.

These Awards are given by St Mary’s to those staff that go above and beyond to make a difference and contribute to St Mary’s mission, strategic objectives and values. Elisabetta has also been running the new Physics course at St Mary’s over the last few years and is also their SEPnet Outreach Officer.

For more information on St Mary’s Physics Outreach programme and upcoming events please see: http://www.stmarys.ac.uk/undergraduate/applied-physics/activities.htm

Condensed Matter Physics in the City 2015

We are pleased to announce the sixth summer programme, ‘Condensed Matter Physics in the City 2015’ which will take place in London on 22 June - 3 July 2015.  Further details including the schedules for both weeks of the programme can be found on our website.

The programme has been organised by the Hubbard Theory Consortium and sponsored by SEPnet and by ICAM.

This summer’s programme will have a special emphasis on spin, orbitally and topologically entangled quantum states. The programme will include international keynote speakers for each week in addition to presentations by participants. Please register here if you would like to attend or to give a presentation. We would particularly encourage PhD students and postdocs to present their ongoing work. We also have some limited financial support available for students from ICAM nodes across the globe.

OBE for Averil MacDonald

Averil MacDonald

SEPnet is delighted that Averil MacDonald, its Diversity and Impact Lead, was awarded the OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List announced on the 13th June. The award was for Services to Women in Science and for services to Public Engagement in Science.

Averil Macdonald holds both Diversity Lead and Impact lead roles in SEPnet and is Professor Emerita of Science Engagement at the University of Reading. In 2014 she published a report "Not for People like Me" on Under-represented groups in science, technology and engineering. A summary of the evidence: the facts, the fiction and what we should do next.

Averil has been awarded the international Bragg Medal and Prize by the Institute of Physics, London. She chairs the UK Expert Group for Women in Science reporting on the success of the Government’s Strategy for Women in Science, and sits on the Equality Challenge Unit’s Athena SWAN Advisory Committee. She is also UK representative on the EU ‘Helsinki Group’ advising on good practice on gender equality in EU Horizon 2020 programme.

Growing UK physics placements

Since 2009 SEPnet has been running its very successful Summer placement scheme for physics undergraduates. This year saw a huge increase in the number of physics undergraduates registering for SEPnet summer placements - from 200 in 2014 to just over 300.

Read more in Veronica Benson's blog that can be found here.

Young Achiever Asian Women of Achievement Award

Jen Gupta

SEPnet would like to congratulate Dr Jen Gupta on being Highly Commended at the Asian Women of Achievement Award, recognising her passion and commitment to communicating physics. Jen has been the SEPnet Outreach Officer for the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation at the University of Portsmouth since 2012. She has had a vital role in developing physics outreach activities to diverse school audiences. Jen has also taken a lead in managing SEPnet’s presence at various music festivals across the region.

This success follows her shortlisting in the “Young Achievers” category which was announced last month. This AWA category recognises the talents of rising stars in the UK across all sectors. The winner was Tanya Datta, a store manager at Marks & Spencers in north London.

The Asian Women of Achievement Awards were conceived to celebrate the often unsung Asian heroines of British life. Such women make a huge contribution in fields as diverse as business, entrepreneurship and social and humanitarian work. These awards, are their moment in the spotlight. http://awaawards.com/#about

The OU and SEPnet Celebrate IYL2015

The Open University creates science of light animation to celebrate IYL2015

The Open University (UK), in partnership with the South East Physics Network and the Royal Astronomical Society, has created an animation celebrating the International Year of Light 2015. The animation can be found here.

Designed to appeal to all ages, this animation celebrates the seven scientists who have contributed to our understanding of light. These scientists cross the centuries, from Arab scientist Ibn Al-Haytham, who wrote the Book of Optics in the 11th Century, to the development of fibre optics by Charles Kao in the 1960s. This animation shows the many ways the science of light has changed the world.

To access more free content and to find out how The Open University is celebrating IYL2015 please visit: The Open University’s IYL2015 webpage

Help us spread the word
To help share this video to as many audiences across the world as possible; The Open University is inviting the global community to help translate the animation into different languages. If you would like to help please visit the The Open University light collection web page and register as a volunteer following the link to the translation project (for any other enquires please send an email to: lucia.marchetti@open.ac.uk).

Connecting Industry and Researchers in Physics

SEPnet PGR students speed network with a wide range of employers

Over 60 SEPnet postgraduate researchers, academics and industry representatives attended a networking evening at Royal Holloway's prestigious Founders Building on 16 April to meet each other and explore opportunities for collaboration, find out about career options for physics graduates and learn about industry skills needs. An industry panel including Ian Tracey of the Knowledge Transfer Network, Gwen Lefeuvre of Micron Semiconductors, James Carroll of Tranquility Aerospace, Julian Potter of WP Thompson IP Specialists and Ray Bainbridge of Tranquility Aerospace shared their views on what they look for in a physics graduate and what physics postgraduates can offer industry. Feedback from the evening was very positive and students valued the opportunity to practise their networking skills and make useful contacts.

SEPnet Celebrates International Women’s Day

GRADnet organised a Women in Physics day on 9 March to enable physics doctoral researchers to get together to share their experiences and hear from academic role models. The event was attended by students from across SEPnet who enthusiastically engaged in a range of activities designed to remind us about diversity within and between groups within a community and its implications for influencing and engaging with peers and others within an academic environment. They were joined by three SEPnet physics academics (Tracey Berry, Karen Masters and Kathy Romer) who gave generously of their time and experiences to alert the students to successful strategies for surviving as women physicists in demanding environments.

The debates were fuelled by delicious food and enhanced by the superb teaching room and amenities supplied by the Portsmouth Graduate School. The students particularly appreciated the collegiate atmosphere in which both deep and light-hearted discussion wove together into an enjoyable day for all. They had to be encouraged to leave when time was up and left GRADnet Directors with a list of what could be included for future similar events, potentially lasting three days! As one attendee summed up, ‘it was a great opportunity to meet other women in physics in a relaxed environment, I really enjoyed the event’.

Surrey Physics Department holds its first Women in Physics Day for School Students. On 11th March 20 female school students attended Surrey Physics Department's first Women in Physics Day. The event provided a chance for the students to find out about the different careers available using physics. They took part in practical sessions in teaching labs, listened to lecturers talking about their research and got involved in discussions about the issues women in physics may face. Students described the event as "inspiring" and "fantastic". Surrey Physics Department looks forward to running a similar event next year.

SEPnet 2015 PhD Scholarships

GRADnet, the collaborative Physics Graduate School of SEPnet, is offering 9 PhD scholarships to UK or EU students for study starting October 2015 in the following areas: Astrophysics, Particle Physics, Quantum Technology and Condensed Matter Physics, Theoretical Physics and Medical and Bio Physics. Across SEPnet there are over 100 PhD projects in these and other fields of Physics of which 9 SEPnet Scholarships will be awarded. These scholarships come with an enhanced research training support grant.

Applications are now being accepted. To learn more, please look here.

GRADnet Winter School at Culham

SEPnet was delighted when CCFE offered to host our second physics post-graduate residential winter school this week. The warmth of the welcome from everyone, the facilities made available to us has been fantastic.

The objective of the school has been to offer PhD Physics students an insight into the range of opportunities open to them beyond their studies. In fulfilling that aim it seems to have been a great success with much interaction and networking going on both in the formal sessions and in the breaks between the forty plus students attending and the eight employers contributing workshops and activities.

Asmi Barot of QMUL won best poster. Team 8 (Alex Clarke of Southampton, Richard Eggleton of RHUL, Radu-Florin Stancu of Kent and Ling Wang of QMUL) won the Consultancy Challenge. “Gio Banana” won the Pub Quiz.

SEPnet Summer Placements 2015

Do You Have a Project for a Physics Undergraduate?

The scheme
SEPnet organises an annual placement scheme for physics students at the above universities and is seeking 8-week projects in industry or research in areas such as data analysis, mathematic modelling, product design and testing or science communication.
Benefits to employers
You have early access to bright, numerate students with excellent problem-solving and IT skills; it enables you to carry out projects you would not normally have time for; you gain a fresh perspective on your business challenges and all advertising, administration and placement support is handled by SEPnet.
What employers have said:

Very satisfied with the whole process, organised and straightforward, with good students (SME). We took SEPnet students for the second year running and have been very impressed with the calibre, their capabilities and the general high standard. For your records we have just made a permanent job offer to one of the students (large corporate).
Who can apply?
The scheme is aimed at any organisations interested in recruiting physics graduates including large companies, research institutions and SMEs.
For more information:
Visit www.sepnet.ac.uk/info_employers for further information and to register your placement project, or projects, online. Email employerengagement@sepnet.ac.uk

New SEPnet Director of Outreach

I am delighted to announce the appointment of Dr Dominic Galliano as SEPnet Director of Outreach, effective 23rd February 2015. Dominic succeeds Clare Harvey who is taking up the role of Education Outreach Manager at the Royal Society after six years in Outreach roles in SEPnet. I’d like to thank Clare for her immense contribution to SEPnet and to its Outreach programme and wish her well in her new role. Dominic joins SEPnet from The Institute of Physics and will be based at Queen Mary University of London, leading the SEPnet Outreach team and programme as we focus on public engagement and widening participation.

Dominic graduated with an MPhys in Maths and Physics from the University of York. Since then he has had a varied career working across industry, academia and learned societies. Dominic completed his PhD in Cosmology at the University of Portsmouth’s Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation during which he was their Student Outreach Representative. Dominic then joined the Science in Society team at the Institute of Physics where he managed the national Physics in the Field programme, which reached over 20,000 people each year and helped deliver their first art / physics collaboration Superposition. He was also responsible for programmes such as Cheers Physics which saw over 100,000 physics beer mats being distributed to pubs across the UK and managed the IOP’s Public Engagement Grant Scheme which awarded over £40,000 worth of grants to seed innovative approaches to embedding physics in society.

Please join us in welcoming Dominic to SEPnet and to wish him and the team every success as we build on the outstanding success of the SEPnet Outreach programme.

"Not for People Like Me"

An important study into Under-represented groups in science,technology and engineering has been written by SEPnet's Diversity Lead, Professor Averil MacDonald. summarising the evidence: the facts, the fiction and what we should do next.

Averil concludes that when it comes to encouraging women into science, technology and engineering, we just haven’t got the messaging right. Most girls decide that jobs and careers in science are “not for people like me”.

The report is available here and blogs discussing the report can be found at http://www.internationalinnovation.com/not-for-people-like-me/ and http://www.ncub.co.uk/blog/stem-identity.html



The annual Students’ Expo provided an opportunity for students to showcase their work through presentations and posters to 150 employers, academic tutors and peers. This year 60 students were successful in finding industry and research placements and presented their posters at the Expo. The Expo provides an excellent opportunity for students to meet employers to find out about career opportunities and for employers and academics to meet to share knowledge and ideas on innovative research.

Prizes for the best placement posters were awarded to six students who each received a signed copy of Jon Butterworth’s book ‘Smashing Physics’, kindly donated by the Institute of Physics. The winning students (with links to their posters) were Lennart Balkenhol (Sussex), Freya Lumb (Kent), Grace Mason-Jarrett (Soton), Vijay Mahatma (RHUL), Sabina Raducan (Kent) and Hannah West (Soton).

Read Azaria Coupe of University of Southampton’s blog account about her experience of the day here: http://azariacoupe.wordpress.com/2014/11/16/sepnet-sixty-seconds-the-second/

We were delighted that this year’s keynote speaker was Juliet Davenport, CEO of Good Energy. Attendees also heard talks from NPL and Selex ES and had the opportunity to network with employers and academics and meet other physics students.

First GRADnet SME Networking Event

Creating New Opportunities for Physics Research Students

On 2 September SEPnet held its first GRADnet networking evening at Queen Mary University for SMEs and regional employers, Physics Research Students and Academics from Queen Mary and Universities of Sussex and Kent.

Over 50 employers, students and academics attended the first of 3 regional events and heard from a panel of entrepreneurs and knowledge exchange experts about the opportunities for physics PhDs in industry. Attendees shared ideas for joint working and collaboration through a lively speed networking session and heard about the launch of the GRADnet Employer Engagement Programme and a new industry mentoring scheme for students.

The first event of its kind for the physics research community and industry, attendees reported finding the event very valuable for getting academics and employers together to learn about what is going on in industry and finding out what physics students do and want. The key message from the evening - employers ‘really do want to hire PhD students’!

See this article from the National Centre for Universities & Business

SEPnet Graduate Network Inaugural Summer School

Inaugural Summer School a success!

Over 70 students attended the a very enjoyable and successful inaugural GRADnet Summer School at the National Physical Laboratory between the 9th and 12th of June. They enjoyed a variety of activities including real-world consultancy challenges, employer led workshops that illustrated the application of physics based modelling techniques across a range of industrial sectors; a session on outreach and a water rockets BBQ. Many thanks to NPL for hosting the event and to all the contributors to the challenges and workshops.

Companies who led the workshops included Network Rail, AWE, NPL, The Met Office, Airbus Defence Systems and Rolls Royce. Real-world consultancy challenges were provided by Pentagon Plastics, Symetrica, NPL and Selex ES.

Read Pentagon Plastic's blog about taking part in the SEPnet Graduate Network Summer School June 2014: http://www.pentagonplastics.co.uk/blog/pentagon-takes-part-in-sepnet-summer-school/

GRADnet launches Virtual Research Environment

In collaboration with The Open University, GRADnet is delighted to announce the launch of its Virtual Research Environment to connect Physics Researchers, Research Students, employers and alumni in the SEPnet region.

Physics staff, postgraduate research students and Alumni are invited to register on: www.sepnet.ac.uk/vre

SEPnet Public Engagement Awards

We are pleased to announce the winners of this year’s SEPnet Public Engagement Awards. We had a good number of nominations, all of which were of a good quality. The winners and highly commended have been invited to a prize giving ceremony at the GRADnet Summer School on Wednesday 11th June, presented by Prof Jim Al-Khalili. Congratulations to all our winners.

Public engagement with research to enrich cultural life: Project awards
Winner: Brian Wecht, Queen Mary University of London
Highly Commended: Claudia Maraston, University of Portsmouth

Media and Communications Award
Winner: Natalie Starkey, The Open University
Highly Commended: Shakardokht Jafari, University of Surrey

Newcomer Award
Winner: Benjamin Williams, University of Oxford
Highly Commended: Sophia Goldberg, Queen Mary University of London
Highly Commended: Michael Hodgson

Achievement Award
Winner: Malcolm Coe, University of Southampton


Atomic & Condensed Matter

A glimpse into our diverse portfolio of ACM research and the world-class facilities that support it.

Particle Physics

Making new connections between experiment and theory through the NExT Institute.


Explore research with SEPnet-Astro, from planetary science to astrophysics and cosmology.

Radiation Detection & Instrumentation

Be inspired by the development and application of RDI in industries across the world.

» Discover more research areas

  • Higher Education Funding Council for England
  • University of Hertfordshire
  • University of Kent
  • The Open University
  • University of Portsmouth
  • Queen Mary - University of London
  • Royal Holloway University of London
  • University of Southampton
  • University of Surrey
  • University of Sussex