Imperial College London is a world-leading Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) university, currently ranked 2nd in the world by the QS world university rankings. Based in the heart of central London in South Kensington, Imperial was founded in 1907, although many of its constituent unions and faculties date back to the 19th century. Imperial’s degrees are research-heavy and the College’s entrepreneurial culture means many students are also involved in startups and business. Imperial’s equally prestigious postgraduate-focused Business School allows keen students to study finance and business modules alongside an undergraduate degree as well. All these factors make Imperial an attractive place to study – which also make it competitive to get into. 

This article explores why you should want to study at Imperial, how and why their undergraduate applications are so competitive, and gives you an overview of what a successful Imperial applicant looks like. Ultimately, though, statistics are just numbers: although it’s tough, around 3000 people work hard and get in every year! Read on to learn more and find out how Dukes can support you with your Imperial application.

Is Imperial College London a good university? 

As a prospective student, what matters is finding the right university and course for you; for example, there’s no point applying to Imperial if you want to study History! However, it’s important to make sure you’re well informed about your choice – and there’s no denying that Imperial is a world-leading, respected and prestigious university for a reason. 

As of 2024, Imperial is ranked 2nd in the world by the QS world university rankings, as well as 5th in the UK by each of the Guardian’s university rankings, the Complete University Guide, and the Times’ Good University Guide. While all ranking schemes use different metrics, so it’s important to check the data they use and make sure it aligns with your values, Imperial’s impressive performance in so many rankings spotlights their round-the-board excellence. Their Computing degree can also boast the highest undergraduate starting salary in the UK at £64,000. 

Imperial offers an impressive variety of courses within STEM, including unique Language for Science degrees where students study French, Spanish or German full-time alongside life science or Chemistry courses. They also provide opportunities to study management and business in a similar way alongside year abroad, year in industry (where you work in a business for a year) or an integrated Master’s degree courses. Their Horizons programme makes them one of the only universities in the UK where you can continue degree-level study in the humanities alongside STEM. 

Imperial’s success and diversity is reflected in their many notable alumni across myriad fields, from Sir Alexander Fleming, who discovered the first antibiotic, penicillin, to Sir Brian May CBE, the guitarist from the rock band Queen. Imperial boasts 15 Nobel laureates and 3 Fields medallists – which isn’t bad for an institution just over 100 years old! 

The Entry Requirements for Imperial College London 

All of Imperial’s courses have their own specific entry requirements, so it’s important to check the requirements for the specific course you’re interested in. 

In general, Imperial College London entry requirements consist of high grades in relevant subjects – typically between AAA-A*A*A at A level in specific sciences or 41 at International Baccalaureate including higher level Maths, with offers often being a grade higher. Most courses then also require an admissions exam, with a high score (typically 30-40% of test-takers) required for an offer. Several courses then require an interview or may offer one to decide between borderline candidates. This seems like a lot, but  Imperial has about ten applicants per place: they have to decide between candidates somehow. 

Academic achievement 

While Imperial requires a high level of academic achievement, this can differ between courses. This table provides a breakdown of the academic achievement needed for the 5 most popular courses (by overall number of applicants) at Imperial: 

Course Grade requirements Admissions Test Interview 
Medicine Typical offer of AAA – A*AA (A* in Biology or Chemistry). 39 points at IB.  The UCAT Required 
Computing Typical offer of A*A*A* –
A*A*AA, with an A* in Maths required and Further Maths preferred. 42 points at IB. 
The TMUA Not standard, but may be offered to some applicants at the discretion of the admissions board 
Mathematics Typical offer of A*A*A* –
A*A*AA, with an A* in Maths and Further Maths. 39-40 points at IB. 
MAT or STEP Not standard, but may be offered to some applicants at the discretion of the admissions board 
Biology Typical offer of AAA with an A in Biology and one of Chemistry, Mathematics or Physics. 38 points at IB.  None No 
Mechanical Engineering Typical offer of A*A*A* –
A*A*AA, with an A* in Maths and Physics. 40 points at IB. 
The ESAT Required  

Imperial will consider your academic profile holistically, so meeting the entry requirements does not mean you will be guaranteed an offer. Looking at their admissions data from 2019-2023, many applicants overperformed (achieving grades higher than the typical offer) – although some also were accepted despite possibly missing their offer as well. You will want to aim for the highest possible grades to have an overall competitive academic profile for Imperial. 

Extracurricular activities 

In general, Imperial focuses on academic achievements and passion for your subject over simply completing extracurriculars such as sport or music. While all courses will consider your application holistically, Imperial will be most impressed by your Personal Statement or interview answers if you can show extracurriculars and passions that relate to your subject. This is especially true for vocational subjects like medicine and engineering. That said, all activities will help you develop valuable leadership, teamworking and communication skills – as well as just being enjoyable and helping you decompress! Focus on why you enjoy your extracurriculars and how they link to your passion for your chosen course over listing less relevant activities. 

Why is it difficult to get into Imperial College London? 

At the end of the day, it’s difficult to get into Imperial because of simple maths: more students want to study at Imperial than it has places. On average, 9.6 students applied for each undergraduate place in the 2022-23 admissions cycle. Imperial has just around 11,000 undergraduate places across all years. Imperial attracts clever and driven undergraduates from all over the world making their applicant pool highly competitive.  To select the best applicants from this impressive pool, Imperial  requires high entry grades, admissions test results and, for some courses, interviews (although this will, of course, vary between faculties and courses).

What subjects are hardest to get accepted to Imperial College London for? 

While no Imperial course is easy to get into, some are more competitive than others. We’ve ranked Imperial’s top ten most competitive undergraduate degrees in 2022-23 by applicants per place to give you an idea of what the hardest subjects to get in for are: 

Competitiveness Course Applicants per place 
1st Computing 19.7 
2nd Mathematics 13.4 
3rd Aeronautics 11.8 
4th Mechanical Engineering 11.6 
5th Medicine 10.8 
6th Electrical Engineering 10.1 
7th Physics 8.5 
8th Chemistry 8.3 
9th Life Science 8.2 
10th Design Engineering 6.4