What exactly is PLANCKS?


The Physics League Across Numerous Countries for Kick-ass Students (PLANCKS) was first held in the Netherlands by Studenten Physica in Nederland (SPIN), the Dutch umbrella association for physics study associations, as they decided to organize this international competition with the help of the International Association of Physics Students (IAPS). The first edition of PLANCKS took place in May 2014 in Utrecht, and since then PLANCKS is held annually in May.


Opening symposium at PLANCKS 2014 in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Lecture given by Professor Stephen Hawking.

PLANCKS is a theoretical physics competition for bachelor and master students. It is a three-day event containing an opening symposium, the contest itself, and filled to the brim with numerous excursions and social activities, where the participants are encouraged to discover the research environment and culture of the hosting country. It provides physics students from all over the world with the opportunity to get in touch with each other. The intention is to increase international collaboration, host social activities and stimulate the personal development of individual contestants. By bringing physics students from various parts of the world together, a setting to exchange ideas and experiences, and to challenge each other, is created.

The Competition

Participants of PLANCKS compete in teams consisting of three to four bachelor or master students. The teams will, preferably, be comprised of students from the same country. During the competition they will answer challenging theoretical physics questions, designed to both challenge and entertain the competitors. Each country can submit a limited number of teams. Some countries organise preliminaries, and the winners of these preliminaries will participate in PLANCKS, while other countries select the interested participants at random. If you are interested in organising a preliminary in your country, please contact the organising committee of PLANCKS, and we will provide you with all the information needed.

The problems are written by professors and cover different fields of physics. For example, questions about cradles, glaciers, particle physics, slinkies, graphene, beamsplitters, skyrmions, wind drift of icebergs, laser cooling, and oil and gas production have arisen in the previous editions, with even more areas of study being added to this years’ competition.

Source: Irene Haasnoot 2016 Eur. J. Phys. 37 014002

Picture from the opening symposium at PLANCKS 2014 in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Lecture given by Professor Stephen Hawking.


2020 is a special year not only due to PLANCKS being in London, it marks the 100th anniversary of the IOP. As part of our celebrations we invited six members of the IOP to give their personal view of their discipline across the last hundred years; the physicists who inspired them and the discoveries and innovations that have helped shape our lives. You can experience this 100 incredible years of physics and the IOP on the website which will be updated throughout the year as we continue our celebrations.

Institute of Physics

The Institute of Physics is the professional body and learned society for physics in the UK and Ireland, inspiring people to develop their knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of physics. 

We work with a range of partners to support and develop the teaching of physics in schools; we encourage innovation, growth and productivity in business including addressing significant skills shortages; and we provide evidence-based advice and support to governments across the UK and in Ireland.

Our members come from across the physics community whether in industry, academia, the classroom, technician roles or in training programmes as an apprentice or a student. However our reach goes well beyond our membership to all who have an interest in physics and the contribution it makes to our culture, our society and the economy. We are a world-leading science publisher and we are proud to be a trusted and valued voice for the physics community. 


NOTE: The following information is for the in-person event and is out of date



PLANCKS 2020 will be hosted primarily at the newely built IOP HQ in London. Travel information can be found on the IOP website. The competition itself will be held at a local venue, with all the talks taking place at the IOP. Evening activities have been arranged an around London (including on the river!), the locations of which can be found at the bottom of the schedule page.  Accommodation will be at Generator London hostel, located at Kings Cross.



The costs for PLANCKS 2020 is 240 euros per team, and 70 euros per observer.
This includes accommodation, catering and all event fees during 8-10th. However it does not include travel costs. There are optional days on the 7th and 11th which costs 40 euros per-person to cover accommodation. The fee for optional day on the 11th is for accommodation for the night of the 10th.



The general rules of PLANCKS can be found here.

PLANCKS is governed by Article 12 of the IAPS Regulations.



PLANCKS wouldn't be the same without the national preliminaries. A number of countries have started to prepare theirs, if your's not listed contact us for help to create one!


You can take a look at the previous year’s problems: 2014 (Problems, Solutions), 2015 (Problems, Solutions) , 2016 (Problems, Solutions), 2017 (Problems).