UCL Chemical and Physical Society

The Chemical and Physical Society (CPS) is the departmental society for UCL Chemistry. We host weekly academic talks, alongside social and career events for both students and staff. The CPS is believed to be UCL’s oldest student society, founded in 1876 by students of the Birkbeck Laboratory.


Members typically study

  • Aerospace
  • Chemical/Process
  • Civil/Building
  • Computing/Technology
  • Electronic/Electrical
  • Maths/Business
  • Mechanical/Manufacturing
  • Science

The facts

CPS is happy to host more than 1500 members!
Dame Kathleen Lonsdale, who first proved that the benzene ring is flat and was the first female tenured professor at UCL, was president of the CPS in 1949-50.
The first annual dinner of the CPS was held in 1883, and today exists as the UCL Chemistry Department Laboratory Dinner, held annually in November.
The most popular event of the year is our 'legendary' Christmas Quiz. Despite a move to a virtual quiz, we still had 106 attendees this year.

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About Us

CPS has welcomed many fascinating speakers, from Dr Dawn Shaughnessy, who discovered elements 114-118, to Professor Omar Yaghi, the father of MOFs, to Professor Joanna Haigh, who does essential work on climate change.

Traditionally, a CPS talk involves a tea and biscuits reception, followed by the talk in the Ramsay Lecture Theatre, and then wine, cheese, pizza and snacks in the Nyholm Room. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, CPS has moved to an online format on Zoom, retaining the same amazing speakers and the same great atmosphere!

Along with our weekly academic talks, we run an annual careers evening, hosted in the first term of the academic year, where we welcome alumni of UCL Chemistry to discuss their career paths. Employers interested in taking part are welcome to contact CPS to enquire.

In the 2020/21 academic year, CPS is free and open to the public. To book tickets to events, please visit the CPS EventBrite. Additionally, all of our previous talks in the 145th Session are recorded and available to watch on our YouTube channel!

Talk Schedule 

Please click here to find out our talk schedule for this year. 

We also have a sponsorship relationship with the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI).

CPS In Person Talk

A full Ramsay Theatre is a typical scene on a pre-pandemic Tuesday, and CPS is looking forward to returning to in-person events as soon as it is safe. Talks usually last one hour and are accompanied by a pre-talk and post-talk reception, where students, staff and guests can mingle, accompanied by a hearty amount of food such as pizza and wine and cheese. 

Virtual Christmas Quiz

The CPS Pub Quiz in December is traditionally one of our most popular events, and in response to COVID we had to move it online in December. Attendance remained impressive, at 106 attendees! The Quiz requires a large amount of dedication from the committee to ensure that unique and new questions are used each year, allowing students from all walks of life and countries to participate equally and also ensuring that the playing field is level from first years to professors! 

Virtual Pub Crawl

CPS hosts two pub crawls during the academic year, one during Freshers week and another in January. Normally, these show students the best bars around campus, but in 2020, this had to be achieved through the magic of Zoom backgrounds! 

Boat Party 

CPS hosts an annual boat party in July, where a boat is chartered and spends an evening traversing the Thames, with a dancefloor and music on board. This gives students an opportunity to celebrate the end of the exam season and the academic year, and see London from a new perspective. 

Christmas Ball 

Starting in 2018, a new tradition was initiated with co-operation between three of UCL's science societies – the CPS, BioSoc and Physics Society. In December, a Christmas Ball is held, with the previous two venues being Bush Hall, a glorious ballroom, and Shaka Zulu. This event is a great opportunity for STEM students to celebrate their hard work throughout Term 1 and to wear their fanciest clothes! 

Formal Lab Dinner

Every November, the CPS Committee are invited to the UCL Chemistry Laboratory Dinner, which is preceeded by the Thomas Graham Lecture. After the dinner, a speech is given by the current President of the CPS as an overview of the society, its achievements since the previous dinner, and the future outlook for the society. The Laboratory Dinner originated as the CPS dinner in 1883. 

How to Join

If you want to find out more information, please email us here.

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