Research overview

The School is one of the leading physics and astronomy departments in the UK.

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.

97% of the School’s research outputs were measured as world-leading/internationally excellent (with a score of 4*/3*) and nearly half (46%) of the research outputs were judged to be world-leading (4*).

These figures confirm the exceptional performance of our staff, our excellent facilities, and our world-leading research.

We carry out research in a broad range of areas such as Astronomy, Cosmology, Photonics, Particle Physics, Nuclear Physics, Condensed Matter Physics, Biophysics and Astrobiology.

Our vibrant research activity is built upon world-class academic staff, postgraduate research fellows, a large, well-resourced Graduate School and high-class research support facilities and infrastructure.


The School has more than 300 researchers, each belonging to one or more of its research institutes: the Institute for Astronomy (IfA); the Institute for Condensed Matter and Complex Systems (ICMCS) and the Institute for Particle and Nuclear Physics (IPNP).

The School also has a number of research centres: the UK Centre for Astrobiology, the Higgs Centre for Theoretical Physics, the Tait Institute, and the Centre for Science at Extreme Conditions. These centres bring together researchers from different institutes, departments and universities to address multi-disciplinary problems.

  • Our research directory outlines our research institutes, groups and centres in full detail.

Research activities

Researchers in the School are regularly involved in high-impact work such as the search for the Higgs Boson, the study of the oldest galaxies in the Universe, and investigating the nature of the "dark matter" and "dark energy", which make up 95% of the universe.

We also engage in public outreach, with staff and students collaborating with the Royal Observatory Visitor Centre, running a very successul programme called Particle Physics for Scottish Schools and attending science festivals around the country.

Our research varies from being highly fundamental to very applied and a number of our research groups are involved in collaborative projects with industrial partners.

Ethics and integrity

Information about Research ethics and integrity.