Schools lab

A collaboration between Physics at Heriot-Watt University and the Institute of Physics (IOP) provides an experimental laboratory for Advanced Higher pupils to fulfil part of their physics investigation. In some instances it may also be used at other levels by schools as an enhancement of their own resources. We aim to provide some limited support for the sessions, and there is an opportunity to talk to physics academic staff.  However please note that this laboratory recieves no external financial support and this will limit the availability of support staff and access times. During times when our own first or second year students are in the laboratory, this is an ideal opportunity for school students to see that there is no great barrier between university and school study environments.

Sessions are normally available only on selected dates in October, November and early December.

What experiments are offered?

There is a range of mechanical, electrical and optical equipment, much of which is computer interfaced, and all of which may use computers for data handling and analysis. A complete list of experiments currently on offer is included in our Handbooks, which may be emailed to teachers on request. The Student Handbook may be given directly to students to assist them in planning their investigation. It contains a list of the experiments available and the equipment provided, as well as the concepts involved with each experiment. More detailed information about the experiments can be found in the Teacher Handbook as well as example procedures for carrying out the experiments, this version should not be given to the students. To request copies of the current handbooks, please contact Bill MacPherson ( or phone 0131-451-3733. Both handbooks include some guidance notes on keeping a record book, and on the treatment of errors. It is recognised that the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) expects Advanced Higher entrants to keep a day-book of work leading towards the experimental sessions. Teachers and students should select experiments in advance and familiarize themselves with the concepts for the experiment before coming to the University.

How may I book a session?

  We invite teachers to bring their students for one-day sessions. Points to note before booking:

  • The class should come as one group, and be accompanied by a teacher/school representative.
  • Due to high demand, and where expected pupil numbers allow, we may offer the lab session to more than one school.
  • An introductory visit can be arranged before a final decision is made regarding experiment choice. This gives pupils a chance to see the equipment and plan what they want to do.
  • We require the following information when booking:
    • Suitable date for the session - please see availability calendar below.
    • Number of Students
    • Which experiments the students wish to use
  • Pupils should have planned their experiment before coming out to HW so they can “dive right in” once they get here.

To book a session please contact Bill MacPherson ( or phone 0131-451-3733.

Lab availability

Our calendar indicates available laboratory sessions - space is available only where 'Available' or 'Part-booked' is shown. Please contact Bill to arrange a visit.

Key information

Bill MacPherson