Organisations students can join

By joining relevant organisations, physicists can meet new people, broaden their horizons and develop skills and experience crucial to climbing the career ladder.

Whether these organisations are national, professional bodies or local informal societies of their peers, here are the details every physicist needs.

The University Student Network
The Institute of Physics is the UK’s professional body for all physicists, and the support that it offers begins on the very first day that a student arrives at university to start their physics degree. It does this through The University Student Network – the student division of the Institute. The Student Network organises physics-related events and trips, provides networking opportunities and helps students to develop transferable skills. There are currently more than 17 000 student members of the Institute. Membership is offered at a highly discounted rate for students and is free to those whose physics department offers an accredited physics degree.

Physics Societies
The IOP provides financial and practical support to student physics societies. Apart from the opportunity to socialise with peers, joining a physics society can be a useful way for students to enhance their career prospects. Physics societies often organise academic talks – which can help students to explore new interests and expand their horizons – as well as talks from local employers of physicists. In addition, societies arrange trips to museums, research centres and other places of interest to physics students.  This can be rewarding and useful in developing communication skills. Students who get involved with the running of their university physics society will develop their organisational skills, which are valued by employers.

If no physics society exists, Physics Societies
Nexus provides financial and practical support to student physics societies. Apart from the opportunity to socialise with peers, joining a physics society can be a useful way for students to enhance their career prospects. Physics societies often organise academic talks – which can help students to explore new interests and expand their horizons – as well as talks from local employers of physicists. In addition, societies arrange trips to museums, research centres and other places of interest to physics students. Many societies also co-ordinate outreach work with local schools. This can be rewarding and useful in developing communication skills. Students who get involved with the running of their university physics society will develop their organisational skills, which are valued by employers.

If no physics society exists, the University Student Network can help students to set one up.

IOP Groups and Divisions
The Institute operates five major divisions and around 50 groups covering diverse interests, such as high-energy particle physics, plasma physics, engineering physics, physics education and the history of physics. Each group organises its own conferences and seminars, and it is in the interest of postgraduate students to participate in these. They are an excellent opportunity to network with potential employers, peers and collaborators, and they enable students to stay up to date with

developments in the field. Students often have the opportunity to give presentations themselves, which can enhance their prospects of obtaining an academic position.

IOP Branches
The Institute also operates a network of member-led branches throughout the UK and Ireland. There are nine regional and national officers who act as a liaison between members and the IOP head office. The branches conduct outreach work with local schools and hold talks about physics for members of the public. Student members are welcome to get involved with their local branch.

The Irish Branch is particularly well known for its Spring Weekend. Students in Ireland can attend this annual event where they can enter the research student competition for the Rosse Medal. The weekend activities include a pub quiz, topical lectures, excursions and

dinner with fellow physicists. Other branches organise regular lectures on a range of physics-based topics, such as the future of nanotechnology, space physics and quantum computing.

There are branches in: East Anglia, Lancashire and Cumbria, London and South East, Manchester and District, Merseyside, Midlands, North East, South Central, South West and Yorkshire.

Members' network
To help members to keep in touch and co-ordinate their activities, the Institute has set up a member networking site called MyIOP. The site has forums for each of the different groups, branches and other member activities. Members can find events that they are interested in or publicise their own event, and even write their own physics blog. The service is increasingly used by members as a way of organising activities.

last edited: March 27, 2013