Institute of Astronomy

Ph.D. Application Procedure

All initial enquiries should be made using the contacts linked to this webpage and not by emailing individual members of the academic staff of the Institute of Astronomy. As the information on these pages explains, projects are allocated after admission and we ensure that we can offer appropriate projects to the candidates to whom  we offer admission.

Application for graduate study at the Institute of Astronomy is via the University Graduate Admissions Office's Applicant Portal. Formally, the application deadline is 31st January 2018 but applicants from the EU and Overseas should be guided by the funding deadlines (many of which are much earlier). All UK/EU applicants will be considered for STFC funding if their completed application is received by 31st January 2018.

Information for applicants, application forms and answers to many frequently asked questions can be found on the University's Graduate Admissions homepage

Completing the Graduate Admissions Office's Application Form

Please note that  there is a non-refundable application charge of GB£50 for online applications and GB£100 for paper applications. See the  Prospectus for details of how this should be paid.

UK students and resident EU students who are eligible for full STFC Doctoral Training Partnerships do not need to complete the Research Section of the application form. 

Guidance for completing the Statement of Interest Section of the Graduate Application Form

The Institute of Astronomy's student-supervisor-project matching scheme has been extremely successful for many years but it is necessary to ensure that the Institute has supervisors/projects available that overlap with the research interests of applicants. UK students and resident-EU students who are eligible for full STFC Quota Studentships should indicate any general area(s) of interest if known, e.g. "primarily theoretical", "observational", "extragalactic", "planet or star formation",... For non-resident EU and Overseas students specify any particular research areas of interest. Please also give the names of up to three academic researchers, expected to be offering PhD projects, with whom you might be interested in working.


If you wish to be considered for University funding, please note the various funding deadlines and complete the Funding Section. All students who are eligible for an Isaac Newton Studentship will be considered automatically, there is no need to make a specific application.  For STFC eligibility please see the STFC Terms and Conditions Guidance.

If you wish to apply to more than one Department  i.e. Institute of Astronomy, Cavendish Astrophysics, Applied Mathematics, you must make an individual application to each Department  to ensure you can be ranked by each Department for appropriate funding.

Applicants completing a Continuation Application form i.e. if you are or have previously been a Cambridge Graduate student, please follow the Graduate Admissions Office instructions which can be found  here

English Language Tests

You do not need to take an English Language test before you apply.

If you are made a conditional offer and have not already met the University's English language requirements, one of the conditions of your offer will be that you pass a test at the required level.

Please note that test results are only valid for two years.

A list of language tests accepted by the University and a link to the scores required for our course can be found here

What happens next?

Applicants may track the progress of their applications in the applicant portal and will need to upload all requested supporting documents (including references) to meet any advertised deadline.

Given the high demand for places, we advise prospective overseas students to submit their applications as early as possible, especially if you wish to be considered for funding awards. The Institute will endeavour to provide preliminary feedback on applications within a month of receipt. We will normally communicate by email.

Selection of applicants eligible for STFC studentships, for interview will be made in mid-February and shortlisted applicants resident in the UK will be asked to visit the Institute  during the week commencing 12th March 2018; the Institute will cover reasonable travel expenses. Applicants will be interviewed, for about 30 minutes, by the four members of the Graduate Student Selection Committee in order to discuss aspects of their undergraduate courses and their potential research interests. Before and after the interview, members of staff will be available to talk to applicants on an individual basis about the availability of Ph.D. topics in particular areas. The opportunity to meet current postgraduate students is also an important part of the visit.

Final allocation of STFC funded studentships cannot take place until the undergraduate degree results are available, usually at the end of June. However, following the interviews, provisional awards are offered to the highest ranked candidates.

In the case of applicants for non-STFC funded places, initial assessment is based on academic record and the availability of suitable projects and supervisors.  Applicants under consideration for an offer of a Ph.D place will be interviewed via Skype. Regrettably, the combined cost of fees and living expenses for non-EU nationals requires resources of at least £42,000 per year.

Many applicants will apply to a number of other universities, some of which have different timetables for deciding on admissions. If applicants are still interested in a Ph.D. place at the Institute, it is essential that following an offer from another university, they contact  before responding.


Details of how to apply can be found on the University's Graduate Admissions homepage.

Application deadlines:  UK and EU applicants eligible for full STFC funding should apply early in the New Year and by 31st January 2018 at the very latest. Overseas applicants, also wishing to apply for Cambridge funding, should be guided by the relevant funding deadline and more details can be found here.

Please follow the instructions!

Please contact at the Institute of Astronomy if you encounter any problems with the application process.

Page last updated: 2 January 2018 at 08:41