Good University Guide 2023

Imperial College London

National rank

Firsts / 2:1s
Completion rate

Key stats

Teaching quality
Student experience
Research quality
Graduate prospects

Imperial is our University of the Year for Graduate Employment for the second time in three years. The career prospects of Imperial graduates are the best in the country, proving the talent pipeline to industry is unsurpassed from its courses specialising in science, medicine, engineering and business.

Private-sector partners engage academic staff as consultants, send experts to give guest lectures and fund scholarships and prizes. The links enable Imperial to offer integrated years in industry in most departments and many students find jobs through these networks upon graduation. Employers also visit sector-specific careers fairs to recruit Imperial students. The latest national Graduate Outcomes survey shows that 95 per cent of graduates had moved on to high-skilled jobs or further study within 15 months. 

Imperial is fifth in our rankings overall and rises to first for research quality. Its results in the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) are outstanding. Fifty-five per cent of its work submitted to the national assessment was classed as world-leading, the top category. Almost all (96 per cent) achieved the top two categories. The stellar outcomes put Imperial ahead of Cambridge, the No 1 university in the previous national REF assessment in 2014. 

Success in the latest REF comes after the global spotlight was turned on Imperial’s research during the pandemic, when its academics spearheaded efforts to model the spread of the disease, develop new vaccines and treat Covid-19 patients.

Confirming its reputation on a global stage, Imperial ties in sixth place with California Institute of Technology in the 2023 QS World University rankings. The university counts 14 Nobel prizewinners among its alumni — including Sir Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin. Many of Imperial’s researchers are directly involved in undergraduate teaching and the breadth of research allows the university to offer some advanced modules in the later stages of degree programmes. 

Teaching at Imperial was awarded gold in the government’s Teaching Excellence Framework, praised for providing an “exceptionally stimulating and stretching academic, vocational and professional education that successfully challenges students to achieve their full potential’’.

Imperial was named our University of the Year in 2021, as one of only two universities where student satisfaction improved under the intensely challenging conditions of the pandemic. However, in our analysis of the latest National Student Survey (NSS) results, Imperial falls from third place to 12th for satisfaction with the wider undergraduate experience  and has plummeted 48 places to 71= for how its students rate teaching quality. Teaching for the present academic year is by “multi-mode” delivery — combining on-campus and online learning. Assessment formats vary by department. 

The university’s 23-acre White City campus in west London is in the midst of rapid development that in 2023 will bring the new £100 million School of Public Health building into use. This joins the 13-storey Sir Michael Uren building, opened in 2020 and dedicated to biomedical engineering research, and Scale Space — a building designed for life sciences and tech firms to grow their businesses. The latest chapter in Imperial’s history, the ambitious White City campus brings together academia, business, the third sector and the community on the same site. Undergraduates in most subjects are based at the original South Kensington campus, however, which is home to the business school and the Dyson School of Design Engineering. The university’s strength in engineering is renowned and Imperial is the only UK university to provide teaching and research in the full range of engineering disciplines.

Imperial’s footprint across the capital includes teaching bases attached to a number of hospitals in central and west London. The Faculty of Medicine is one of Europe’s largest in terms of staff and student numbers. A partnership with a medical school in Singapore, run jointly with Nanyang Technological University, began in 2017 and will conclude 2028 but the two institutions remain committed to collaborating in education and research. 

Imperial’s record on social inclusion is improving in some areas, although the university falls to third from bottom according to our analysis. Notably, it has the second-lowest black achievement gap and is in the top 20 for its proportion of students from ethnic minorities (17th). Imperial continues to attract the largest cohort of students from private and grammar schools, with just 45.5 per cent from non-selective state schools.  

The Imperial bursary is a generous one, offering eligibility on a sliding scale from £2,000 to £5,000 for undergraduates with annual household incomes up to £60,000. In 2021 36 per cent of British students at Imperial received the bursary and almost four in ten qualified for the maximum amount. The university expects a similar proportion of students to benefit in 2023-24. 

Students pay £30 a year to belong to the Ethos sports centre on the South Kensington, which gives them access to a gym, swimming pool, spa facilities, climbing wall and sports hall. Imperial’s outdoor facility, Harlington Sports Ground near Heathrow airport, hosts Queen’s Park Rangers Football Club’s training centre and a training venue for England rugby teams.

All first-years are guaranteed a space in halls as long as they meet the application deadline.

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Category Score Rank
Ranking - 5 (4)
Teaching quality 74.9 71st=
Student experience 77.2 12th
Research quality 73.9 1st
Ucas entry points 197 6th
Graduate prospects 95.2 1st
Firsts and 2:1s 92.4 6th
Completion rate 97.9 3rd
Student-staff ratio 11.7 5th
World ranking - 6= (7)

Vital statistics











Applications/places 28,700/3,305
Applications/places ratio 8.7:1
Overall offer rate 32.5%


Places in accommodation 2,861
Accommodation costs £125 - £331
Accommodation contact


UK/EU fees £9,250
Fees (placement year) ££925–£1,850
Fees (overseas year) £1,385
Fees (international) £32,950 - £36,200
Fees (international, medical) £46,650
Finance website
Graduate salaries £33,000


Sport points/rank 1907.5, 15th
Sport website

Social inclusion and student mix

Social Inclusion Ranking 114
State schools (non-grammar) admissions 45.5%
Grammar school admissions 20.3%
Independent school admissions 34.2%
Ethnic minority students (all) 61.6%
Black achievement gap -2.5%
White working class males 1.9%
First generation students 25.7%
Low participation areas 4.5%
Working class dropout gap n/a
Mature 7.6%
EU students 14.8%
Other overseas students 34.6%

Student satisfaction with teaching quality

Geology 86.8%
Chemical engineering 85.2%
Civil engineering 84.6%
General engineering 82.8%
Materials technology 80.4%
Mechanical engineering 78.3%
Chemistry 78.2%
Mathematics 77.2%
Medicine 76.9%
Bioengineering and biomedical engineering 75.2%
Biological sciences 74.5%
Aeronautical and manufacturing engineering 70.8%
Electrical and electronic engineering 70.7%
Computer science 68.3%
Physics and astronomy 59.8%