About the School of Physics and Astronomy

Information on the School's research outputs, teaching programmes and work with industry

Science at the extremes

Edinburgh has world class facilities and expertise in science at the extremes. The Centre for Science at Extreme Conditions (CSEC) has a worldwide reputation. CSEC combines the activities of around 35 academic staff and a similar number of research fellows from the Schools of Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Engineering, Geosciences and Physics & Astronomy. At the last international review it was ranked second in the world and our ambition is to become first by growing our activities into new areas.

Chancellor’s Fellows in the Extreme Science/Astrobiology theme will pursue research linked to CSEC and the UK Centre for Astrobiology (UKCA), also based at Edinburgh. The UKCA is interested in life in extreme environments and the habitability of extraterrestrial environments, including planets in our own Solar System and exoplanets. The Fellows will be based in the College of Science and Engineering and will draw on areas of current research excellence across Schools associated with CSEC.

The School's Research Institutes & Centres

The School of Physics and Astronomy is in the College of Science & Engineering and comprises the Institute for Particle and Nuclear Physics (IPNP), the Institute for Condensed Matter and Complex Systems (ICMCS), and the Institute for Astronomy (IfA). We have recently established the Higgs Centre for Theoretical Physics (HCTP), and the Edinburgh Complex Fluids Partnership (ECFP) and have a strategic partnership with STFC in the new Higgs Centre for Innovation (HCI).  Jointly with other Schools, we operate Optical Spectroscopy Micromanipulation and Imaging (COSMIC), and as already mentioned, Centres for Science at Extreme Conditions (CSEC) and Astrobiology (UKCA).

Our research institutes

Our research centres

Research outputs

The School has 73 academics, over 100 researchers, 180 PhD students and 700 under- and taught post-graduates. In REF 2014 the School submitted jointly with St Andrews; we were ranked 3rd in GPA with 27%/69% of our research outputs measured as 4*/3* (world-leading/internationally excellent), 70%/30% of our environment judged to be 4*/3* and 46%/46% of our Impact rated 4*/3*.  We were ranked 4th on research power indices. Despite this very good Impact score, it is this area that we wish to strengthen further and these Chancellor’s Fellows form part of that strategy.

Working with industry

Working with industry

Taught programmes

The School runs undergraduate programmes at BSc and MPhys level in Physics, Mathematical Physics, Theoretical Physics, Computational Physics, Astrophysics, and Physics with Meteorology.  There are joint degrees run by other Schools in Chemical Physics, Computer Science and Physics, Mathematics and Physics, and Physics and Music.  The undergraduate programmes have flexible entry and exit points, creating courses of variable duration and level.  We also run MSc programmes in Theoretical Physics, Mathematical Physics and Particle & Nuclear Physics.