Physics and astronomy

Explore and understand the science behind our world and universe, from the atomic and subatomic scale all the way to stars and galaxies. Learn how this central science underpins ideas in fields such as electronics, lasers, music and semiconductors.

St Andrews is home to state-of-the-art research labs and its own observatory with the largest operational telescope in Scotland.

Prospective Students


Postgraduate taught

Postgraduate research

The School of Physics and Astronomy offers PhD research opportunities in the following areas:

  • astrophysics
  • condensed matter
  • photonics.

To apply, you should first identify and contact a potential supervisor you would like to work with in your intended research area. Find out how to contact a research supervisor.   

“I wanted to study at a university with excellent teaching and lots of contact with the actual research in the field. I could not have made a better choice! Studying Physics is undeniably hard, however the supportive atmosphere in the School, the excitement about the subject and the great people who I do it with are worth it.”

- Kroměříž, Czechia


First in Scotland and fourth in the UK for physics

Guardian University Guide 2023

First in Scotland and second in the UK for physics and astronomy

The Complete University Guide 2023

98% of research activity rated 3* or 4*

Most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021)