(Original post by Perdiccas)
As above has said, though it tends to be 6 hours of labs per week.
I count ~20-22 hours of time in all per week, 6 hours of which are labs, one hour tutorial and one hour seminar. Some of those lectures are actually classworks where you are given a sheet of problems and can do them in the lecture theatre with assistance from post grads and the lecturer.
The workload really depends on how much you did at A-Level. If you did Further Maths and lots of mechanics options, you may well find a lot of the first term to be revision, because you end up doing a lot of maths. They obviously have to make sure that everyone has done the basics (particularly with such a diverse intake), and things consequently start quite slowly. As such, there's quite a variation with how much work students have to do.
Later on, as you get to new courses, you'll find the workload pick up. The 'advice', and this goes for most institutions, on the amount of work to be done is one hour outside of lectures for every hour inside. That's quite a volume, and you'd probably find that unnecessary.
It's hard to say how significant the workload is. Imperial has a reputation for a high workload, but I don't think it's too unreasonable. It really depends on the student. You can get away relatively easily in the first year, but it picks up later on. But hey, physics is tough at university!
The lecturers are surprisingly friendly with regards to helping you out, so they can always assist with extra contact time.
General environment: A tough one to answer. It is not the most ... animated student experience. I think it's more that the onus is on the student, rather than having the parties thrown at you. People seem to be more focussed on their degrees than anything else. You will certainly be expected to work hard
Work hard and play hard?!
The research is very well regarded on an international level. The departments quite often give talks about their different areas of research too.
If you'd like, I can email you a copy of my timetables for the first year (PM me)?