Institute of Astronomy

Prospective Students

Applications for Admission October 2021 - PhD / MPhil / MASt


The 2021-22 course directory is now live and accepting applications. Informal enquiries can be sent to

Education during the academic year 2020/21


The Institute of Astronomy has made no changes to it's PhD and MPhil programme for the academic year 2020/21 albeit measures such as social distancing will be in place.

The Institute of Astronomy offers the opportunity to study for three degrees:

In addition, the Institute of Astronomy offers undergraduate courses in Astrophysics as part of the Natural Sciences Tripos.

About the Institute

Located two kilometers to the west of the city centre and set in a pleasant environment of gardens and woodland, the Institute of Astronomy of the University of Cambridge hosts one of the largest concentrations of research astronomers in the United Kingdom with 18 tenured academic staff, 70 postdoctoral fellows and long-term visitors, and about 45 postgraduate students. The range of research interests pursued is very broad, covering many aspects of solar, stellar, galactic and extragalactic astronomy both observationally and theoretically. There is an active visitor programme which gives astronomers at the Institute the opportunity to interact and collaborate with colleagues from abroad; visits last from a few days to a whole year. The thriving scientific atmosphere is reflected in a busy programme of seminars and colloquia (there are talks on most days) given by international, national, and local astronomers.

Optical and infrared observers at the Institute have access, through competitive applications, to all of the United Kingdom's major ground-based facilities, including the European Southern Observatory VLT and ALMA telescopes in Chile,  as well as Chandra, XMM, Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer, Herschel, and other satellites. The Institute has an excellent record of success with applications for time on all of these facilities. In addition, there is an active involvement in research programmes which make use of the 10-m Keck and 6-m Magellan telescopes. Academics engaged on computational projects in small-scale (stellar) and large-scale (galaxies and cosmological) research areas make extensive use of the UN national Distributed Research utilising Advanced Computing (DiRAC) facility.

Research opportunities for PhD students commencing in October 2020 are associated with Faculty members and Senior Reseach Fellows who are available as potential supervisors.

The majority of computing resource for research is provided by a large cluster of PC/Linux workstations. In addition, CASU and the X-ray and Theory groups also run substantial computing facilities. The entire site is connected by a fast network, ensuring rapid and convenient communication between computers, input and output devices and terminals.

The Institute has one of the leading astronomy libraries in the world. All major astronomical journals and periodicals are taken, along with most astronomical texts and monographs published. Access to material in related subjects is provided through the University's Rayleigh Physics Library, Main Copyright Library and the Scientific Periodicals Library.

Academic staff at the Institute give undergraduate lectures in both the Natural Sciences (NST) and Mathematical Tripos. Lectures in Part III (4th year) Astrophysics are given as an astrophysics section in Part III of the Mathematical Tripos, and graduate students from the Institute can attend any relevant courses.

Page last updated: 3 September 2019 at 12:25