The Guardian 2017 University Guide ranked our Physics programme in the UK Top 10 and 2nd in Scotland. 

Innovative, award-winning teaching

We pride ourselves in helping our students realise their full potential, and they recognize this. We have won major teaching awards at the whole University level, as voted by the students. Our most recent awardee was Dr. Paul Dalgarno, who won the Switched-On Teaching Oscar 2017 for most exciting, enthusiastic and dynamic lecturer (find out more about this and our previous awards).

We are constantly innovating in our teaching. We recently created an Open Lab where our students can drop in and drive their Optics experimental work at their own pace. This was a huge success -read what our students had to say about it (and more details here).

“The addition of the Open Lab was incredibly useful because it allowed us to create and see the physical phenomena for ourselves” (Jake Sanwell)

Dr. Marcello Ferrera (on the left) and Dr. Thomas Roger (on the right) setting up the Open Lab space.

Friendly, informal atmosphere

We have a closely knit Physics community at Heriot-Watt. Our staff is highly approachable and we have a good student-to-staff ratio which means we take a caring interest in each individual student. 

The Physics Society at Heriot-Watt (run by our students) organizes various events throughout the year which also bring everyone together. Some examples include a welcome BBQ,  Students vs Lecturers Bowling; an invited talk on the “Physics of Dr. Who”, research lab tours and talks by the staff, Christmas Dinner and plenty of other social gatherings.

“The staff-student ratio in Physics was a key factor influencing my decision to study here. From my time here, I have found that most lecturers in the department maintain an ‘open-door policy’ so help and support is never too far away” (Susan Chan)

Snapshots of some of the activities organized by the Physics Society at Heriot-Watt

Opportunities to do research in our labs

Our aim is to ensure that you use your degree as a springboard for your chosen career. Throughout your studies, we offer you various opportunities to do research in our labs and elsewhere.

Some of our students have pursued summer internships supported by prestigious scholarships from the Carnegie Trust, Ogden Trust and the Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences. 

Individual projects are also typically based in one of our research groups. Check out here what our staff is passionate about in their Physics research.

 “My projects in Physics were a fantastic motivation and gave me the opportunity to see cutting edge research. This helped me shape my future decisions; to return to Physics at Heriot Watt for research studies.”  (Niclas Westerberg)

Niclas (on the right) working in the XtremeLight Laser lab at Heriot-Watt.

Industrial links

As a Physics student at Heriot-Watt, you will benefit from the many industrial collaborations and strategic partnerships that we have.  Group projects in later years frequently have an industrial partner that defines a problem to be solved.

Many of our graduates go on to work in high-tech industry and keep a close connection with Physics at Heriot-Watt, building collaborations and coming back to chat with our students about careers.

“During my fourth year I worked in a small group on a project set by an external company, Selex ES. Other groups worked with companies including Holoxica, Adrok, the Science and Technology Facilities Council and ST Microelectronics.” (Stuart Crane)

Outstanding facilities

We have state-of-the-art teaching and research facilities. The University has recently invested over £640,000 for a new study space for our students as well as an industry-standard advanced teaching laboratory.

Significant investment also continues to be made in expanding and enhancing our research labs. You can take a virtual tour of the Horizon Laser Facility, where artificial black holes are created, among other things.

Our beautiful and leafy campus is extremely well connected to Edinburgh city centre, and boasts impressive leisure and sport facilities. Come and visit us, and see for yourself! 

Newly refurbished photonics teaching laboratory at Heriot-Watt University

Fully accredited by the Institute of Physics

Our main programmes* are accredited by the Institute of Physics (IOP).  The IOP is the professional body that represents physics in the UK. 

*The Physics and Professional Education programme is accredited by the relevant teaching professional body, the General Teaching Council for Scotland, rather then the IOP.

Student experience

Don’t take our word for it. Read about Stuart and Susan’s experiences while studying Physics at Heriot-Watt.