Postgraduate research courses

The School of Physics and Astronomy offers a number of options for prospective postgraduate students wishing to follow a research-based degree programme. The School welcomes all applications for these programmes, as discussed below. Applications are particularly welcome from those with a willingness to commit to the School and University's aspirations towards equality, diversity and inclusivity.

We encourage applicants to view the list of potential PhD projects linked below, and to contact prospective supervisors.

The School has PhD and EngD opportunities covering all research themes in the School. In addition to the traditional research-based training, these programmes offer advanced taught-course components. The EngD is an alternative to a traditional PhD and is aimed at students wanting a career in industry. The EngD involves co-supervision between academic and industrial partners.

PhD studentships

Scholarships are available for PhD study in all research areas in the School: photonics, condensed matter physics and astrophysics. These fully funded PhD scholarships usually start at the end of August, but some may be available immediately. Studentships are funded by EPSRC, STFC, the European Commission and other bodies, and commonly last for 3.5 years.

Current PhD projects available in the School:

Discipline-specific studentships through doctoral training centres

The School allocates funded doctoral studentship places through several different application schemes, see further information on PhD funding below.

Applications for a PhD or EngD studentship are also possible through three doctoral training centres:

All PhD students are trained within the SUPA Graduate School, which provides advanced courses to support their research studies.

The University Postgraduate Prospectus gives an overview of research areas, funding routes and life as a postgraduate research student in St Andrews.


MSc (Res) in Physics or Astronomy

The MSc by Research, or MSc (Res) degree, is an increasingly popular one-year Masters by research degree offered by St Andrews.

The course is designed for those students and professionals who have a degree in Physics, Astronomy, or a related subject. It provides students with high-level research experience, and advanced knowledge within a specialised area of Physics or Astronomy.

The research will be carried out in the group of one of full-time academic staff members. You will be involved in the design, planning, execution, analysis and write-up phases of a high-level research task. Through this degree, you will develop a wide range of practical and computational skills.

Students undertaking an MSc (Res) have access to the same graduate-level courses provided through the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA), and a wide range of transferable skills courses provided by both the University and SUPA.

Assessment involves writing a thesis of no more than 30,000 words, describing your research and its context. This thesis is examined, but there is no viva.

Students typically choose this course to increase their practical research experience in an intensive one year of study. In most cases, it is intended that students will go on to study for a PhD degree after completing the MSc (Res) course.

If you are interested in a carrying out an MSc (Res) degree, then please contact the School by emailing Find out more about applying to a research programme