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Annual activities

We work with students around the UK, ROI and internationally to offer a series of national and international events. These activities enable students to develop skills for life and make the most of their time at university, discovering the range of physics opportunities and activities available to them for their future careers.


Through our events you can expect to:

  • delve deeper into the world of physics and associated sectors
  • learn ways to develop your career
  • compete in international physics competitions
  • learn how to organise your own events
  • network outside your local community

You can do this through the following programs:

Online activities

Designed in partnership with, and frequently hosted by, students from our membership and community, our online activities provide opportunities to:

  • develop new skills
  • discover physics
  • connect with the wider physics community

These include:

  • webinars on employability, wellbeing, CV masterclasses and more - access the archive (login to your IOP membership, select membership then career development hub)
  • our series of coding workshops - contact us for recordings of these workshops
  • competitions, challenges and quizzes
  • our student-led podcast featuring conversations between students and a diverse range of physics professionals

IAPS4 event

Each year we partner with the International Association of Physics Students (IAPS) to organise a physics event that includes a trip to a UK science facility. These have included trips to CERN, Culham Fusion centre and others. 

IAPS4SPCE November 2019

In recognition of the anniversary of the Moon landing, the IOP is organising IAPS4SPACE, an immersive three-day event at our home in London, in partnership with the International Association of Physics Students (IAPS). Attendees will develop team building, leadership and critical thinking skills during a two-day workshop simulation of the Columbia Space Mission.

This event included:

  • an interactive two day workshop focusing on leadership, critical analysis and effective team working within the SPACE sector
  • lectures on space and the Moon
  • the chance to discuss practical realities of leadership and team working with a panel of senior practitioners from different occupations in STEM
  • a specially curated day at RAL Space, the UK’s national laboratory for space exploration

Further information about the event.

Annual facilities trip

Every year, in conjunction with our partners, we organise trips to world class industrial facilities around the UK and Europe. Past trips include CERN, the Mullard Space Science Laboratory and the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy.

Facilities trips are a fantastic way to experience what it’s like to work on industry physics projects, big and small, in fully operational research environments. You will have the chance to learn about the organisation itself as well as hearing from active scientists about their experience within industry. It’s also an excellent, informal way to meet other physicists in the IOP Student Community.

Each trip typically involves a talk from a member of the physics community, a tour and/or demonstration and usually a talk from a member of site staff. Participants then return to the original departure point and we encourage students to socialise with those they’ve met during the day afterwards.

We charge a nominal fee for these trips to cover the cost of travel and any catering.

To join the waiting list for the next trip or learn more please email studentcommunity@iop.org.

Forum of University Societies Event (FUSE)

Our annual FUSE event brings together committees from affiliated university physics and related societies to network and socialise, share what they’ve been doing and generate new ideas. FUSE takes place in an informal setting and focuses on connecting society leaders to network and present work.

FUSE is:

  • for representatives from IOP affiliated societies (physics or astronomy)
  • hosted by a different university society in the UK and Ireland each year
  • typically attended by 50+ representatives per year from between 15 to 20 affiliated societies

In order to ensure the greatest opportunity for participation from different student societies from across the UK and Ireland we rotate the event. This is in the interest of inclusivity and diversity and we enjoy collaborating with a new student group each year. This makes every FUSE unique.

FUSE typically comprises:

  • evening talk and networking on Friday evening
  • welcome and tour of local facility
  • updates from each society
  • IOP outreach session
  • closing talk

If your society would like to attend future forums, email studentcommunity@iop.org.

PLANCKS competition

The Physics League Across Numerous Countries for Kick-Ass Students (PLANCKS) is an international four hour theoretical physics competition.

It’s for the brightest university minds from around the world and held in a different country each year. The purpose of PLANCKS is to strengthen international ties between students and stimulate competitors’ personal growth.

The event features:

  • social and scientific activities that emphasize cultural exchange
  • cutting edge research lectures
  • activities that develop student networks, including with employers
  • field trips and lab tours

PLANCKS has previously featured numerous Nobel Prize winning speakers at the opening or closing ceremonies, including Stephen Hawking in 2014 and Wolfgang Ketterle in 2018.

Each year the IOP, IAPS and physics students in the UK and ROI organise a preliminary competition. The winning team is then flown out to compete in the international final.

Universities can send as many teams as they like. Teams must comprise three or four students. If you would like to register your university team for the UK preliminaries at Edinburgh University please email studentcommunity@iop.org.

PLANCKS 2020 preliminaries

In 2019 the competition was hosted by students from the University of Edinburgh. It was a brilliant event, with 284 student and 75 team applications to attend, with 45 teams competing.

Read more about the 2019 competition.

PLANCKS 2020 finals

In 2020, the UK & Ireland successfully bid to host the finals at the IOP’s headquarters from 8-10 May. 

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the event was cancelled with a future date to be announced. Read further updates on this competition and others.