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Photonics and Optoelectronic Devices (MSc)

Course Description

MSc in Photonics and Optoelectronic Devices

• Offered in collaboration with Heriot-Watt University.

• This programme is aimed at graduates in physics or electrical engineering who seek postgraduate education in photonics to enhance their opportunities in industry/ commerce or in PhD research in photonics.

• The programme is tailored to balance fundamental understanding with industrial relevance.

• You gain an understanding of the fundamental properties of optoelectronic materials and devices with vocational training in modern optics, laser physics and semiconductor physics. You also gain practical experience in the operation of a wide range of laser devices and optoelectronic technologies.

• You develop an appreciation of the widespread practical applications of coherent light sources in communications, material processing and testing, optical processing, medical treatments and diagnostics, and environmental monitoring.

• The industrial project placement occupies 12-14 weeks from late May to August and is assessed in September after the submission of a dissertation.

• The admissions process will be run by the University of St Andrews in 2016 and by Heriot-Watt University in 2017.


* In the UK Research Excellence Framework 2014, the quality of research undertaken by PHYESTA, the joint research School of Physics & Astronomy between the Universities of St Andrews and Edinburgh, was ranked third in the UK and top in Scotland.

* The School has around 40 academic staff, around 70 postdoctoral researchers, including 7 SUPA, EPSRC, STFC and Royal Society Research Fellows, around 80 research students and around 20 students on taught postgraduate courses.

* The MSc course in Photonics and Optoelectronic Devices is offered in collaboration with Heriot-Watt University, allowing students access to the expertise at both sites.

* St Andrews has recently opened £3.7 million of specialist research labs in photonic microfabrication and in high resolution condensed matter physics.

* We are a member of the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA), whose Graduate School provides a comprehensive range of graduate level courses in physics and astronomy.

Postgraduate community

The postgraduate community in the School of Physics & Astronomy includes typically ten students in our MSc class, two to ten engineering doctorate students taking taught modules, plus around 80 PhD research students. Students on the MSc course come from all over the world, with a mix of students from the UK, EU and overseas.

You are taught by internationally-leading research experts, and the relatively small size of the School means that there can be real interaction between students and staff. Lecture classes are relatively small, ranging from about 30 students down to groups of just a few. The teaching staff are proud to have the reputation of being accessible to students, and enjoy explaining the excitement of physics and its applications to their students. Well-equipped teaching laboratories allow you to explore the science of photonics in “research mode”, and interact directly with academic staff and the School’s early-career researchers.

Teaching methods

• Teaching comprises lectures, tutorials, and laboratory work.
• The teaching laboratory offers the photonics students a wide choice of experiments.
• Work for lecture modules is assessed largely through examinations whereas the laboratory work is assessed in a continuous manner. Lecture courses are examined at the end of each semester.
• MSc students select their project topic part way through the course. This is assessed by the submission of a dissertation and an oral exam.
• You are also invited to attend relevant research seminars and departmental colloquia given by departmental research staff, specialists from other universities and specialists from industry.


The MSc programme aims to produce graduates with appropriate knowledge, skills and attitudes to go on to be successful in the photonics area, be it in industrial/commercial positions, or undertaking PhD study in universities.

Typically half the class will start PhD or EngD programmes after graduation, while the other half will take up industrial and commercial positions. Commercial destinations of graduates from a recent year-group include laser development, sales and marketing with consumer/office optoelectronics, product support of optical metrology equipment, theoretical modelling of photonic structures, university teaching, internship with a national laser lab, and semiconductor optoelectronics research.

Visit the Photonics and Optoelectronic Devices (MSc) page on the University of St Andrews website for more details!

(Student Profile)


Studying in such renowned and well-established universities as St Andrews and Heriot-Watt was the best academic decision I have ever made. The course is challenging, but very well organised and I am learning a lot. The staff are very friendly and eager to help the students. One of my favourite parts of the course is the work in the laboratory. It allows a much deeper understanding of the theory and also exploration of our own ideas.


SFC Tuition Fee Support - 6 Awards

For Photonics and Optoelectronics MSc programme.
Tuition Fees may be covered for a number of students on the programme who must have been domiciled in Scotland or in non-UK European Union.

Value of Scholarship(s)



Tuition Fees covered for a number of students accepted on to the programme who must have been domiciled in Scotland or in non-UK European Union.

Application Procedure

Contact the course director once application to the programme is made

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Our minimum academic requirement for entry to most programmes is a 2:2 degree classification from a recognised UK university or the equivalent in a subject-related area.

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