Orkney Islands

Orkney is an archipelago of 70 islands lying off the north coast of mainland Scotland. With a population of about 20,000 spread across 19 islands, the area has a long and rich history and a diverse economy.

Today, alongside agriculture and tourism, the islands are known for their thriving crafts, music, quality food and drink and as a global centre of expertise for the emerging marine renewable energy industry, being home to the European Marine Energy Centre.

For this reason, Orkney is a fantastic place to study renewable energy and marine resources. Students based at the Heriot-Watt Orkney Campus in Stromness have the opportunity to be part of the local community, to meet people working in the renewables industry, and to experience island life.

There are lots of activities and events and a wide range of clubs locally. From arts, crafts, music and drama to football, rugby, golf, sailing, walking, kayaking and diving, there's something for everyone!


Orkney's landscape is generally green and fertile, with gently undulating hills and a stunning coastline of red sandstone cliffs, sandy beaches and rocky shores. A paradise for nature lovers, Orkney has an abundance of wildlife, sealife and flora and fauna.

Stromness lies to the west of the main land mass, the West Mainland. To the East lies the town of Kirkwall, and beyond it the East Mainland, with causeways linking to islands to the South. The North Isles and South Isles, reached by ferry from the Mainland, each have their own character and landscape characteristics, so there is lots to explore and enjoy.

Despite its relative remoteness, Orkney is well-connected, with daily links to mainland Scotland via sea and air (with direct links to Aberdeen, Inverness, Glasgow and Edinburgh). Ferries operate between the main islands and there are local bus service, including a regular service between Stromness and Kirkwall.