School of Physics & Astronomy

Around and About St Andrews


Aerial view of the "centre" of St AndrewsSt Andrews is a town of some 15,000 people, beautifully situated on the Fife coast [maps].  The major cities of Dundee and Edinburgh are about 25 and 70 minutes travel away respectively. 

St Andrews pier and the cathedral ruinsToday St Andrews is known as the home of Scotland's first university, the home of golf, and a popular tourist destination.  The ruins of the cathedral and castle, viewed at left from the pier, are memories of the days when St Andrews was the capital of Scotland.  

The University is spread throughout the town.  The historic chapel and quadrangle of St Salvator's College can be seen at the top of the aerial photo on the right.   Both University and town are steeped in history, but that does not mean that the University remains in the past.  Modern science buildings, forefront research, and innovative teaching abound.  A number of the science buildings, including ours, are on the North Haugh site, and are pictured at the foot of this page.

However, the history of St Andrews can be used as an "excuse" for a number of interesting student traditions.  These include the pier walk (shown above) and the "Academic Family" system, where many entrant students choose an academic "mother" and "father" from their friends in third and fourth year. 

John Burnet HallThe University has a strong residential system, with around two-thirds of students living in University owned accommodation.  This ranges from halls of residence which provide almost full board, to self catering flats.  The John-Burnet hall of residence is shown alongside; this is some 200 metres from the School of Physics and Astronomy.   Some residences are historic buildings, others are much more recent.  All are within walking distance of each other, the centre of town, and the various University departments.  However, many students choose to bring a bicycle to St Andrews to speed up these journeys.  The University Accommodation Website contains details about many of the halls.

The "Old Course" with the Swilken Bridge in the foreground The University Sports Centre has recently received a major upgrade, and now boasts various all-weather outside facilities, as well as a wide range of indoor and grass-based outdoor facilities.  There are student clubs catering for a huge range of sports interests.  The town has a nice swimming pool, and small yachts can often be seen off the east sands.  But the most obvious sport for which St Andrews is known is golf.  The famous links courses are "owned" by the town.  Residents (including students) are able to play these courses for a remarkably small annual fee.  The Old Course is periodically host to the British Open Golf Championships.  The view from the library in our building takes in the links courses; we are told that in one of the Microsoft golf simulation games our building can be clearly seen in the background!

skiingThe Scottish hills are within easy driving distance.  The beautiful and rugged scenery is well worth a walk through in the summer, and there can be exciting opportunities for both downhill and cross country skiing in the winter.  Because of its proximity to the sea, St Andrews itself rarely has snow lying for any length of time.  Indeed, this corner of the country is sometimes able to boast more hours of sunshine per year than anywhere else in the UK. 


A number of the science schools are on the North Haugh site, which is on the western edge of the town.  Biomolecular Science is also in the building labelled as "Chemistry" above. Halls of residence can also be seen in this picture, which looks approximately west from the town's long-stay car park area.  Since this photo was taken the new building for Medical Science has started being constructed just to the right of our building as seen in the above shot. The University sports centre and playing fields are the other side of New Hall.

For more information on various activities, please click on the links below.   Please note that these will take you out of the web pages maintained by this School. 


Return to Prospective Undergraduates Page

Last updated BDS 9.09