Welcome from the Dean

Mark Thompson, Dean of School of Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics

Mark ThompsonAt the School of Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics you’re not just a face in a crowded lecture hall. Here, the lecturers know your name, how you’re doing, and what you need from us to help you succeed.

Whichever of our three closely interlinked disciplines you’re studying, you’ll be getting a personalised education. I’ve worked at the University since 2004, becoming Dean in 2016, and what’s really important to me is our focus on each individual and the support we offer. We try to give as much added value as possible – to maximise your potential so you go on to do great things.

About half our staff are from outside the UK and we work with astronomers and physicists around the world. We use those connections to get you great project-based placements – if you have an idea for something we’ll do what we can to make it happen. One student wanted a placement working on telescopes in Hawaii – we arranged this and she’s still there, now doing a PhD at Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy!

Your placement can serve as a year-long interview, as many of our students are offered a job by their placement company once they graduate. Our maths graduates are working at Deloittes, the Home Office, Microsoft and IBM, while a physics graduate is now an engineer at Leonardo and another graduate works for NASA as an instrument engineer on an airborne telescope – a Boeing 747 – capturing images of asteroid belts around the stars.

My own research expertise is radio astronomy. I’m currently involved in projects relating to the world’s next giant radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array, which will be built in Africa and operated by Africans. We will be training the first astronomers in those countries.

The School’s strong research focus means our undergraduates benefit from research-informed teaching. I know they appreciate having lecturers who are leading their fields.

I was the first in my family to go to University, so it’s also important to me that the School is friendly and welcoming. We have our own Society, PAMSoc, which organises events and group revision sessions. We also get out and talk to people - as students you’ll have great opportunities for paid work going to festivals and schools to explain your subject and communicate our excitement about science.