School of Physics & Astronomy


Research in the School of Physics and Astronomy

Artist's impression of an exoplanet discovered by an international team in which St Andrews played a crucial role - link to astronomy research pages
Image furnace for preparing samples - link to condensed matter research group
An optically excited polymer laser - link to photonics research area

The School has an internationally recognised set of research programmes in astrophysics, condensed-matter physics, and photonics. Detailed information provided by the groups can be accessed via the links above. There is also significant work in Physics Education Research.

We are one of the UK's leading physics departments. In the 2014 Research Excellence Frameword (REF) which assesses the quality of physics departments across the UK, we were pleased to see our research ranked third equal in the UK.

Around 43 academic staff work with approximately 66 research fellows and contract research staff, and about 85 PhD students. Our work is carried out in modern laboratories in St Andrews, as well as at major international research facilities in the UK and abroad.

Recent highlights include

We are very active in interdisciplinary activities, building bridges between the traditionally distinct disciplines of physics, chemistry, biology and medical sciences. An illustration of our vibrant and on-going efforts can been seen in our Biophotonics Collaboration, which is at the interface between physics, biology and medical sciences. Additionally we have a range of advanced materials and nano-sciences research, linking our school with the School of Chemistry at St Andrews. A snapshot of these cross-school endeavours can be found in the advanced materials and nano-sciences brochure. More detailed information is accessible on the Condensed-Matter & Photonics webpages linked above.

We play an active role in the Scottish Universities' Physics Alliance (SUPA). SUPA aims to place Scotland at the forefront of international research in Physics through an agreed national strategy, a pan-Scottish Graduate School offering over 600 lecture hours of graduate courses, an inter-institutional management structure, and co-ordinated promotion and pursuit of excellence in research.

Building on that SUPA infrastructure, we were successful in winning the new Scottish Doctoral Training Centre in Condensed Matter Physics and a share in the Engineering Doctorate Center in Photonics.

Director of Research

Director of Postgraduate Studies

Director of Impact

Head of School

Prof Peter Wahl

Dr Jonathan Keeling

Dr Duncan Robertson

Prof Graham Turnbull

Last updated Sept 2018