Astronomy at University of Cambridge - UCAS

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Course summary

The Institute of Astronomy offers the opportunity to study for the PhD degree, for which the normal duration of study is three years. The format is almost entirely research-based and while projects may be exclusively theoretical or observational, many combine aspects of both. Many projects incorporate aspects of Data Science including machine learning and artificial intelligence. It is normal for students to attend several relevant international conference during their three years of study, often presenting their own research work. Some students, working on observational research projects, undertake observing trip(s) to major international observatories.


The PhD degree is essentially a full-time research course and there are no formally assessed lecture courses. First-year PhD students are expected to attend an induction programme and a number of short courses covering research skills. Student journal club and presentation sessions operate weekly during the term. The total number of course and journal/presentation hours involved is approximately 40 in the first year of the PhD. Acquiring knowledge of research in a broad range of astrophysics is an important part of the PhD. In addition to specific PhD-related talks and discussions, students are expected to attend two weekly seminars or colloquia during the term.

Assessment method

Thesis / Dissertation The PhD degree is awarded primarily on the quality of a thesis, of not more than 60,000 words, constituting a substantial contribution to original research. The thesis is assessed critically by two examiners who then conduct an oral examination upon the subject of the thesis and the general field within which it falls. Other Formal registration for the PhD degree occurs at the end of the first year. Students complete a report, of not more than 10,000 words, describing their work during the year and a proposal for the research to be undertaken during the second and third years. The report is examined by two assessors, including a viva examination with the student. Following submission and examination of a satisfactory report, students are formally registered for the PhD degree, backdated to the date they began their research. As an aid to progress with PhD research, students also submit short reports on their work in each subsequent year. On each occasion students then meet with two assessors to discuss progress and review plans for future research.

Entry requirements

Applicants for this course should have achieved a UK Masters (Pass). If your degree is not from the UK, please check International Qualifications to find the equivalent in your country. The Faculty of Physics and Chemistry's minimum academic requirement for admission as a PhD student is the equivalent of a good UK II.i four-year integrated master's degree (five-year from Scottish universities). Competition for PhD places at the Institute is such that admission offers are, in almost all cases, made to students who hold or expect to achieve a first-class grade or equivalent (e.g. a distinction in a master's degree) in a relevant subject. If you are studying for a degree overseas and are unsure of its UK equivalent value, please contact [email protected] for advice. Admission offers are usually made to students with academic track records well above the University's minimum requirement for admission.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

No fee information has been provided for this course

Tuition fee status depends on a number of criteria and varies according to where in the UK you will study. For further guidance on the criteria for home or overseas tuition fees, please refer to the UKCISA website .

Additional fee information

No additional fees or cost information has been supplied for this course, please contact the provider directly.
Astronomy at University of Cambridge - UCAS