Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

MSc SIS Edinburgh Course - Sensors and Instrumentation PHYS5093

  • Academic Session: 2021-22
  • School: School of Physics and Astronomy
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

The Sensors and Instrumentation course examines the methods used to interface sensors with electronic instrumentation. One focus will be on transducers, meaning devices which convert information from one form of energy to another. In this case the final form for the information will be an electrical signal but the transducers themselves could be optical, mechanical, etc., and operate in a number of different ways (e.g capacitive, potentiometric, photonic). Examples from the state of the art in sensor research will be provided and guest lectures from active researchers in this field will provide context. Students will undertake a 'horizon scanning' research exercise to investigate the industrial and research potential of a specific type of sensor.


Typically two lectures per week with subjects covered in 1-3 lectures. 1-2 guest lectures on active research activity will be planned with topics to be determined. Assessment by examination and a short research assignment. feedback opportunities will include submission of example exam questions adapted from a previous version of the course and a short presentation as part of the research assignment.

Requirements of Entry

Only available to students on the Sensor & Imaging Systems MSc.

Excluded Courses





1) Exam (40%)

2) Coursework (20%)

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? No

Edinburgh does not normally provide resit exams; instead an aggregate-grade substitution rule applies, following UofE regulations.

Course Aims

Understanding and critical awareness of applications of the following main topics (subject to revision):

1. Transducer Basics: Sensors and Actuators

2. Metrology - Measurement in detail

3. Sensor Amplification: Revision of op-amps and basic circuits

4. Instrument
ation for Electrochemistry: Potentiostats, impedance measurements, bridge circuits
5. Temperature measurement techniques

6. Microelectromechanical sensor (MEMS) instrumentation: Strain gauges, piezoelectric sensors and actuators, capacitive sensor interfac
7. FET based sensors: MOSFET revision, FET based biological and chemical sensors, nano-wire sensors.

8. Overview of optical sensors:
Fibre-optic sensors, fluorescence, photonic sensors
9. Neural sensors and actuators: Microelectrode arrays, neural inter
10. Implantable medical devices: Biofouling, materials and regulation

11. Wireless sensor interfaces: Sensor networks and wireless power

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

On completion of this course, the student will be able to:

1. Understand the concept of transduction and methods of extracting information from sensors;

2. Analyse sensor outputs through the use of analogue circuit concepts;

3. Understand typical electronic instrumentation for sensors and important concepts such as calibration and references;

4. Demonstrate knowledge in the state of the art of sensors for a wide range of applications in research and commercial products;

5. Demonstrate familiarity with a wide range of sensors and instrumentation from electrochemical to optical.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Subject to University of Edinburgh credit-awarding regulations.