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The University's minimum academic requirement for admission as a Ph.D. student is the equivalent of a good UK 2.1 four-year undergraduate honours degree (five-year from Scottish universities). However, competition for Ph.D. places at the Institute is such that offers of admission are made almost exclusively to students who hold, or are expected to receive a strong first class honours degree, or equivalent, in a relevant subject. If you are studying for a degree overseas and are unsure of its UK equivalent, please contact for advice.

In the United Kingdom students will have completed a four-year undergraduate degree leading to an "integrated" master of science, or similar qualification. In other countries, including the majority of Europe, India and the USA, a three- (or four-) year undergraduate degree followed by a two-year masters degree is necessary. Unfortunately, while not the view of the Institute of Astronomy, the University does not equate a four-year bachelors degree from Australia or New Zealand as equivalent to a UK integrated master of science degree. Formally, a separate master-degree is required to satisfy the Ph.D. admission requirement.

A number of factors are considered when assessing applications, including undergraduate academic record, relevant research experience and availability of project/supervisor in the selected subject area. The competition for the limited number of Ph.D. places available means that for students graduating on a North American-related "GPA scheme" (maximum 4.0), essentially all successful applicants will have a GPA of at least 3.8.

The short, research-only, Ph.D. degree is suited to students who have an undergraduate degree in astrophysics or theoretical physics. Students whose initial training is in another discipline, such as mathematics or computer science, usually need to acquire a masters level qualification with a substantial astrophysics- or physics--based element. For applicants interested in more theoretical research areas, the one-year MASt in Mathematics or our  MASt in Astrophysics are options for acquiring the necessary background in astrophysics prior to commencing study for the Ph.D. Typically, each year, several students completing these courses are offered admission for a Ph.D. at the Institute of Astronomy.

Please see our FAQs for further useful information about first degree requirements and some specific information for applicants educated in the USA.