Main strengths

Some assets of the physics training at the ENS of Lyon.

Through several research internships within the curriculum and in a gradual manner:

  • 8 weeks in L3;
  • 12 weeks (generally abroad) in M1;
  • 18 to 24 weeks in M2.

Thus, the vast majority of students in the Physics Department go on to complete a doctoral thesis after graduation.

The link with research is also established through regular seminars throughout the training: departmental seminars in L2 and M1, and the physics laboratory colloquium in M2. Numerous current research topics are presented to allow students to discover various fields.

For those who wish to take the agrégation competitive examination to teach, the years of L3 and M1 make it possible to build a base of knowledge which is recognized at the agrégation level, with a success rate for students from the training that fluctuates between 80 and 100%. This rate is significantly higher than for students arriving only for the year of preparation for the agrégation.

The experimental approach plays a key role in the training. There is between half a day and a day of practical work or experimental project per week, all with state-of-the-art and varied equipment corresponding to research equipment.

The training at the ENS de Lyon is characterized by a very high student-teacher ratio: on average, there are three students for one teacher in the physics department. Moreover, upon entering the department, each student is assigned a tutor within the teaching staff who advises him or her throughout his or her studies. This is an opportunity to be guided by an experienced teacher-researcher in their choice of training, internships and further studies. The training and department heads are also available to listen to students to help them personalize their curriculum.

The Physics & Chemistry program allows students to combine courses in physics and chemistry and offers many openings to other disciplines (biology, earth sciences, mathematics, computer science).

The courses for non-specialists also allow students to take courses in one of the other departments of the school (in the sciences as well as in the humanities and social sciences).

Within the department, the choice of modules and internships allows students to choose a specialty in physics according to their personal tastes: condensed matter, optics, quantum physics, macroscopic physics, mechanics, hydrodynamics, astrophysics, theoretical physics, and fundamental interactions.

For students wishing to have a strong interface with biology, it is possible to follow several modules dedicated to interdisciplinarity thanks to the "PCB" courses (Physics, Chemistry, Biology).

Double degrees also allow students to take courses that are consistent with their previous training but specific to the partner institutions.

Throughout their studies, the department supports students in mastering non-disciplinary skills (soft skills):

  • computer programming (Python, Arduino);
  • writing scientific documents (LaTeX, bibliography);
  • preparation of oral presentations;
  • design of communication materials (posters).

These skills are developed through project-based teaching, chosen from among:

  • experimental mini-projects in L3 which allow students to learn how to use a workbook, to work together, present their results orally, and produce a poster;
  • laboratory projects in L3 to discover team research work while developing initiative and autonomy;
  • the digital project in L3 to program the modeling or simulation of a physical problem;
  • the Microcontrollers project in L3 to design and develop a measuring instrument using Arduino, starting with essential components;
  • problem-solving in L3 to learn to master orders of magnitude, to build a problem, and to challenge teachers to solve it;
  • experimental projects in M1 to develop a personalized research topic in pairs;
  • the international physicists' tournament in M1 in which the students of the SdM team must experimentally provide scientific answers to open questions in physics and then compete against other teams from other schools to reach the international final;
  • the animation of the Science Festival (L3 or M1) for the students who wish to do so.

There are several ways to travel abroad during your studies in the Physics Department:

  • with internships: in general, students do their M1 internship (3 months) outside of France, but they can also go abroad during their M2 year or during their "long research project" to discover the functioning of international research;
  • with ERASMUS exchanges or exchanges with a partner institution to follow a Master's level course in physics;
  • with double degrees that allow students to spend long periods of time abroad with privileged partnerships.