Physics and Astronomy

The wide range of expertise within the School of Physics and Astronomy enables the School to offer a variety of opportunities for higher degrees by research.

The School specialises in a wide range of research areas and postgraduate students are fully integrated into these areas.

We aim to offer a challenging and supportive environment, in which our students develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in industry, research or academia. We have an established track record of research excellence and host world-class laboratories to support our wide range of research activities. Research in the School also involves worldwide collaborations and the use of leading-edge national and international facilities.

You will be supervised by a team of experts who will support your progress and help you to achieve your potential. You will be assigned a mentor from another research group who will act as your personal tutor.

Programme aims

To offer knowledge and expertise for a career in the academic world, industry or to pursue a variety of other opportunities in which a strong background in physics, astrophysics or computing is useful and important.

Distinctive features

  • Research students take specialist academic courses and courses to develop their communication and personal skills.
  • There is a full programme of seminars and the individual research groups hold regular meetings where members present new results and discuss their research in detail.
  • There is an annual postgraduate conference and a research student poster competition.
  • There are active collaborations with research groups overseas and regular attendance at major international conferences by staff and students.

Key facts

Mode of study Full-time, part-time
Qualification PhD, MPhil
Full-time duration PhD 3-4 years, MPhil 1-2 years
Part-time duration PhD 5-7 years, MPhil 2-3 years
Start dates January, April, July, October

Research areas

Astronomy and Astrophysics

Astronomy and Astrophysics is a research area within which you can focus your studies as part of our suite of Physics and Astronomy research programmes (MPhil, PhD).

Astronomy Instrumentation

Astronomy Instrumentation is a research area within which you can focus your studies as part of our suite of Physics and Astronomy research programmes (MPhil, PhD).

Condensed Matter and Photonics

Condensed Matter and Photonics is a research area within which you can focus your studies as part of our suite of Physics and Astronomy research programmes (MPhil, PhD).

Gravitational Physics

Gravitational Physics is a research area within which you can focus your studies as part of our suite of Physics and Astronomy research programmes (MPhil, PhD).

Data mining at the South Galactic Pole

Automated methods of extracting the properties of millions of galaxies from survey data and identifying new classes of rare objects.

Machine learning to extract gravitatonal wave transients

Identifying astrophysical gravitational wave transients from events such as supernovae.

Machine learning to maximise the impact of ALMA

Development of new, automated methods for identifying sources in data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA).

Extracting weak Gravitional Wave events

Use of machine learning techniques to identify and classify weak gravitational wave events in data from the LIGO and Virgo detectors.

Searching for Cosmic Anomalies

This project will involve developing, testing and applying innovative statistical analysis techniques to real and simulated data sets.

Revealing Astronomical and Archaeological Information from Satellite Imaging Data (AA - Reveal)

The proposed project is to look at the further development of the astronomical software and to particularly consider its application to archaeological surveys.

Automated Searches for Ultra-Diffuse Emission from Stars

We are particularly interested in the fraction of stars that lie outside of easily recognised galactic structures as a means of tracing the assembly history of dark matter haloes of various masses.

Vertical cavity surface emitting lasers for miniature atomic clocks

This research project is available as part of the EPSRC National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) Doctoral Training Partnership.

Single crystal analysis of frustrated magnetic systems, using the world's leading powder diffraction instrument

This project would extend the use of WISH to cover robust single crystal analysis of diffuse scattering and weak Bragg peak data with in-situ measurements to extend our fundamental understanding of frustrated magnetic systems.

Supporting materials required:

  • Research Proposal
  • Two academic references and copies of full transcripts.

Suitable for graduates with a first or upper-second class honours degree in Physics, Astrophysics, Mathematics, Electronics or a related subject, depending on the research area.

English language requirements

Applicants whose first language is not English are normally expected to meet the minimum University requirements (e.g. 6.5 IELTS). Please see our English Language Requirements guidance for more details.


Administrative contact(s)

Postgraduate Admissions Team

School of Physics and Astronomy

Academic contact(s)

Dr Giampaolo Pisano

Director of Postgraduate Research


Apply now
Postgraduate students on campus

Open Day

Meet us at our Postgraduate Open Day on 22 November 2017.

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