Published on May 30 2023 , modified on December 7 2023
Historique du Département

The physics department at the ENS has a dual vocation of teaching and research, these two objectives being complementary and closely linked.

From the infinitely small to the infinitely large and the infinitely complex, the department's research covers almost all areas of fundamental physics, and is enriched by fruitful interactions with other scientific disciplines.

Drawing on its internationally recognised research activities, the department offers training in fundamental physics at the very highest level and at the cutting edge of research, from undergraduate to doctoral level.

Facts and Figures:

With a staff of nearly 500, the Physics Department is the largest research and teaching structure at the ENS.

Approximately 120 researchers/teacher-researchers in some thirty research teams on the ENS and Collège de France sites carry out top-level research activities, both experimental and theoretical, covering a large part of fundamental physics and its interfaces.

The heart of the department is a historic 12,000 m² building on rue Lhomond, on the ENS campus just a stone's throw from rue d'Ulm.

Since 2011, the department has been recognised as a 'laboratory of excellence' for the quality of its research and teaching.


Research in the department is organised around two laboratories

  1.    The Laboratoire de Physique de l'ENS is a fundamental research laboratory whose theoretical and experimental activities cover a vast exploratory field and are organised around 6 research areas: quantum materials and devices, statistical physics, biophysics, fluids and interfaces, astrophysics and cosmology, and fundamental interactions.
  2. The Laboratoire Kastler Brossel is a major player in the fundamental physics of quantum systems. Its activity is structured around 4 main areas: quantum gases, quantum information and optics, atoms in dense and complex media and tests of fundamental interactions in metrology.

The department's research teams are those of LPENS and LKB, which are based at the ENS or Collège de France.


This training begins in the third year of university studies and culminates in a doctorate. Over 200 undergraduate students attend the department. Just under half of them are ENS students who have been selected through an extremely selective procedure and are among the best French students.
The other students come from universities and schools in France and abroad, and most of them join our courses at Master's level.
Over the last ten years, a major effort has been made to boost the international appeal of our department, with some success, since more than 25% of our Masters students now come from foreign universities.

The physics department at the ENS provides a teaching programme at the level of :

   Bachelor's degree (final year) and Master's degree (M1/M2). The programme emphasises early contact between students and the world of research; 
   At doctoral level, the ENS department oversees and manages the Physics in Île-de-France doctoral school (ED PIF); 
   Agrégation, which trains around 20% of agrégés teachers nationwide.

These various courses are run in coordination with the main research universities and institutions in the Paris region.   
The department also supervises several of the entrance examinations for the ENS.