The School

Find out about the School and what we do.

The current School of Physics & Astronomy was formed in 1993 by the merger of the Department of Physics (called the Department of Natural Philosophy until the late 1960s) and the Department of Astronomy. The School has about 500 members of staff


Research institutes

Academic and research staff each belong to one of the institutes within the School. These are:

Research centres

We also host multi-disciplinary research centres:

Research quality

The School of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh was ranked 4th in the UK and 1st in Scotland in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 listing for the quality, scale and breadth of its research by Times Higher Education.

Read more about our results in the Research Excellence Framework 2021.


Undergraduate study

The School is committed to excellent and innovative teaching and offers a wide range of Honours and Integrated Masters degree programmes in:

  • Physics
  • Astrophysics
  • Computational Physics
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Physics with Meteorology
  • Physics with a Year Abroad
  • Theoretical Physics

Taught postgraduate degrees

We offer one-year taught Masters degrees in the following subjects:

  • Astrobiology and Planetary Sciences
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Particle and Nuclear Physics
  • Theoretical Physics

Postgraduate research degrees (PhDs)

For those wishing to do research, we offer fully-funded PhDs. These students normally belong to one of our research institutes and make significant contributions to our research programmes.

School and Institute heads


The School is affiliated to or accredited by the following organisations:

  • SUPA (Scottish Universities Physics Alliance).  A pooling of physics research and post-graduate education in 8 Scottish universities.
  • Athena SWAN: The School has been awarded Athena SWAN Silver status in recognition of its ongoing efforts to create a more equitable workplace.
  • Institute of Physics’ Juno Programme: We are a Juno Champion, the top level of the IoP scheme that recognises departments that can demonstrate they have taken action to address the under-representation of women in university physics and to encourage better practice for everybody.