School of Physics & Astronomy

PhD studentships

The University is a well known and respected institution, with a substantial postgraduate population.  St Andrews is Scotland's first university. 

RAE 2008

In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise the research in physics and astronomy at the University of St Andrews was ranked at number two in the UK.

IoP Physics World Comment on RAE Results


Research Overview

Bit-error-rate testing in the Ultrafast Photonics CollaborationThe J.F. Allen Physics Research Laboratories are internationally recognised for their research contributions in pure and applied physics and astronomy.

Links with industry are a feature of some of these programmes. Another characteristic is a high degree of involvement with UK and international government funded central research facilities and telescopes. Collaborations exist with a number of research laboratories in the UK, Europe and the USA.  Many students will have the opportunity to present their work at international conferences.

Introduction to research areas

Introduction to research facilities

A research staff/student office in Ultrashort-pulse laser groupResearch is conducted in modern, well equipped laboratories with state-of-the-art facilities within the School of Physics and Astronomy. Research students have their own study desks, often outside their laboratory areas.

The University ObservatoryOur main building is located close to the town centre, golf course and beach. The observational facilties at the University Observatory are some 10 minutes walk away.  St Andrews offers easy access to the Highlands.

Every year we have a number of funded PhD studentships in physics and astronomy.  These usually start in September, but some may be available immediately.  These studentships are funded by EPSRC, STFC, SUPA, research grants, the Nicol Trust, and other bodies.

Additional Information

Our postgraduate prospectus is available electronically, and we can mail a paper-based one to you on request. While some studentships are tied to particular research grants, others may be available for any of our research areas.   For more details please see information on our current projects, on individual staff pages and via the research pages, or contact us for a copy of the university's postgraduate prospectus, our school's postgraduate prospectus and an application form. Further information and access to an online application form is available on the University postgraduate application information pages.

We normally invite potential PhD students to visit us in St Andrews to see and discuss our work, and to allow potential students and potential PhD supervisors to meet each other.   An invitation is usually sent to potential students once their application form has been seen by academic staff, and an interest in the application has been noted.

Current research programmes cover the following areas:


  • Astronomy and Astrophysics -Extra-Solar Planets, Dynamics of Star Formation, Theoretical Radiation Transfer , Cool Stars , Galaxy Populations and their Evolution, Stellar Magnetic Fields, Active Galactic Nuclei, Dark Matter in Galaxies
  • Condensed Matter Physics - Superconductivity and Magnetism, Neutron Scattering, Correlated Electron Systems, Low temperature physics, ARPES on correlated materials, Quantum Degenerate Gases, Quantum order at extreme conditions, Theory of Condensed Matter
  • Photonics - Laser physics and technology, Biophotonics and optical manipulation, Nanophotonics, Semiconductor optoelectronics, Quantum optics and information, mm-wave and high-field ESR


Many internationally significant successes have been achieved in recent years.  An overview of these can be found in our research pages.

Major new initiatives, involving very significant financial investment and several new Professorial Chairs, have been introduced during the past few years in semiconductors, magnetism, photonics, and astronomy.  In late 2003 seven new academic staff were appointed, giving further evidence of the vitality of our research activities. The Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA) has strengthened our links with other physics departments in Scotland. We are part of the SUPA Graduate School, which allows us to provide a wide range of postgraduate courses for PhD students. The SUPA project has also provided significant resources to develop a number of research programmes.

The school also runs a very successful, EPSRC supported M.Sc. in Photonic and Optoelectronic Devices. Photonics students registered for a Ph.D. can benefit from attending lectures from this post-graduate course.

Last updated BDS/TFK December 2008