Field trips

Through our network of global partners, our students have opportunities to visit leading labs and facilities like the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes in the Canary Islands and the dark matter research facility at Boulby Underground Laboratory.

Students on the La Palma field trip

Astrophysics field trip

Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes, La Palma, Canary Islands

Each year up to 10 students who are taking one of our Physics and Astrophysics courses have the opportunity to join a subsidised field trip to the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes on La Palma in the Canary Islands. At 2,400m above sea level, these telescopes are in an almost ideal environment for astronomy.

Students use our pt5m telescope during their own night of observations and can also visit the 4m William Herschel Telescope and the 10m Gran Telescopio Canarias – the largest optical telescope in the world.

Placements on La Palma

Students on a Physics and Astrophysics with an Industrial Placement Year course can spend a year of their degree working at at the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes. It's also possible for students on this course to do their placement at the Thai National Observatory in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Alex Brown

My astrophysics placement in the Canary Islands has been an unforgettable experience

Alex Brown Physics and Astrophysics MPhys

Alex spent a year of his degree working at an international observatory on La Palma in the Canary Islands.

The next generation of astronomy tools

One of our astrophysics lecturers, Professor Vik Dhillon, led the team that built HiPERCAM, a high-speed camera that has been installed on La Palma's Gran Telescopio Canarias. He was also part of the international research team that built the new Gravitational-wave Optical Transient Observer telescope on the island, to detect optical signatures of gravitational waves.

Other field trips and placements

Members of Physoc at CERN
Members of our student society, Physoc, on a field trip to CERN

Sheffield physics students have also had the opportunity to visit other fascinating places through, for example, a year-long work placement, a research internship or a field trip organised by our student society, Physoc. Locations have included:

  • CERN, Switzerland, where the ground-breaking Higgs boson discovery was made and many major particle physics experiments take place
  • Boulby Underground Laboratory, UK, where scientists are working more than a kilometre below ground to search for dark matter, and study organisms that can survive extreme environments like those on other planets
  • ITER, France, the world's largest nuclear fusion experiment
  • Fermilab, USA, a high-energy particle physics facility running a wide range of neutrino experiments
Freya Bottom

The best part of my placement at CERN was the freedom to achieve goals

Freya Bottom Physics MPhys

During her placement year, Freya worked on the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN research institute in Switzerland, where the groundbreaking Higgs boson discovery was made.

REF 2021 illustration showing University building and subject areas

Research Excellence Framework 2021

We have been rated 1st in the UK in terms of the quality of our research. In the latest REF, 100 per cent of research and impact from our department has been classed as world-leading or internationally excellent.

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