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Dr Peter Swift

Associate Professor


Associate Professor in the Department of Physics+44 (0) 191 33 43518
Fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and WellbeingCollege: 45630 / Department: 43518


Since October 2011, Peter has worked in the Department of Physics, currently as an Associate Professor, which he has held jointly with the positon of Vice-Principal (formely Vice-Master) of Grey College since January 2014. From July 2021 until May 2023 he was in addition the Acting Master of Grey College.

Prior to this, Peter graduated with first class honours in Maths and Physics from Durham University. He then undertook a PhD under the supervision of Prof. Martyn Chamberlain and sponsored by HMGCC in the terahertz group at Durham, which he completed in 2008. This was followed by a period working for a University spin-out, Durham Photonics Ltd, where he developed terahertz instrumentation, and then as a Post-Doc on the ROBUST project (Regeneration Of Brownfield Using Sustainable Technology), investigating the applicability of terahertz radiation as a sensor for organic molecules.

College Responsibilities

Within Grey College, I lead on Wider Student Experience and student development, and work on Alumni Relations.

Within the Colleges Division I am the Chair of the Welcome and Orientation Week group, and have previously sat on a number of other working groups.

Department Responsibilities
Since 2020 I have been the overall module leader for PHYS1101: Discovery Skills in Physics, the first year Laboratory Module. In this role I sit on the Physics Department Laboratory Committee. In addition, I co-lead the practical sections of the module with Dr Petts, having been involved with a variety of aspects of this since 2013, and continue to demonstrate on the module.

I run Level 4 projects in the areas of Pedagogy and SoTL and organise the Physics Department Welcome Week Group Activity. I also supervise Level 3 (BSc) projects.

I sit on the department's Education Committee as both Education Track Representative and Outreach co-ordinator; in this role I sit on the Science Faculty Engagement Committee.

Since 2014, I have had overall responsibility for coordinating the department's particpation and provision for both the Supported Progression and Sutton Trust Summer Schools as part of the Univeristy's Widening Participation initiatives. In addiiton, I am the department coordindator for the Levelling-up, Aspire Higher project

From 2011 - 2021 I lectured the Level 2 course, Thermodyanmics and Statistical Physics, which forms part of the module Foundations of Physics 2B. This included giving lectures and producing associated materials, providing weekly problems with solutions, and setting and marking examinations. From 2011 - 2018, I was also a Level 1 Tutor.

Indicators of Esteem

2023: Member of the Institute of Physics Degree Accreditation Panel

2023: Local Co-chair of the Variety in Chemistry Education and Physics Higher Education Conference held in Durham.

2023: Member of the National Steering Committee for Variety in Chemistry Education and Physics Higher Education Conference. 

Professional Memberships:

  • Member of the Institute of Physics;
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
Research Interests

My main interests now lie in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learnign (SoTL) in Physics. In particular, how students learn physics (pedagogy), and how we can improve our teaching methods for this.

I am involved in a vareity of projects, including looking at the COVID impact on student's practical skills on the transition to HE.