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 260 members of staff, of whom around 80 are academic teaching 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 quality of our research was recognised in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) in which a joint submission from the universities of Edinburgh and St Andrews ranked fourth using the Research Fortnight Power index, and third in terms of quality of outputs, out of 41 Physics departments in the UK.


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:

  • Theoretical Physics
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Particle and Nuclear 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.