Taught course

Photonics and Optoelectronic Devices

Heriot-Watt University · School of Engineering and Physical Sciences

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Entry requirements

A first or second class honours degree in a suitable subject with a numerate background. Equivalent overseas qualifications will also be considered. Applicants for whom English is not their first language and who do not already hold a degree in which the teaching was in English must satisfy the university minimum requirements for competence in English - IELTS 6.5 or equivalent.

Months of entry


Course content

The photonics research groups in the physics departments of Heriot-Watt and St. Andrews Universities are internationally renowned, and have many links with industrial and university groups around the world. Major activities are based around optoelectronics, laser development, semiconductor physics, materials technology, ultra-fast phenomena, modern optics, and instrumentation. This expertise is brought to the teaching of our one-year taught MSc course.

Previously called Optoelectronic and Laser Devices, this MSc course has been updated and enhanced, recognising the explosive growth of the UK and global photonics industry, fostered by the world-wide expansion in the exploitation of optical in telecommunications.

Students spend one semester at each university, and then undertake a three-month research project, normally in a UK company. Companies participating in recent years include Bookham Technologies, BAE Systems, Edinburgh Sensors, Cambridge Display Technology, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Indigo Photonics, Intense Photonics, Kamelian, Nortel, Renishaw, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Thales, Sharp and QinetiQ.

The joint involvement of the Departments of Physics at St. Andrews and Heriot-Watt Universities makes available to students the combined expertise and diversity of equipment at two Universities renowned for research and teaching in optoelectronics. In addition full-time students spend three months at the cutting edge, undertaking a research project at a photonics company.

The primary aim of the course is to provide specialist postgraduate training in modern optics and semiconductor physics, tailored to the needs of the photonics industrial sector. The secondary aim is to provide the education required for those wishing to continue in academia.

Information for international students

Heriot-Watt can provide summer courses in English as a foreign language and further information is available from the EPS Graduate School office.

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

This programme has been selected to support the skills demand in Scotland's key economic growth areas. A number of full fee bursaries are available to applicants permanently resident in Scotland. Download an application form and submit to scholarships@hw.ac.uk.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MSc
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification


AssessmentWhat kind of work will I be doing? (proportionally)
Written/ formal examinations50
Written coursework / continuous assessment30
Dissertation20 (10000 words)

Course contact details

+44 (0)131 451 3376