skip to content

Institute of Astronomy

Summer Interns 2023

Summer Internship Programme 2024

The Institute of Astronomy’s Summer Internship Programme aims to provide undergraduate interns with research experience over the summer by working on projects supervised by a member of the Institute. It is expected that the internships will normally be carried out in person at the Institute. 

The Summer Internship Programme at the IoA provides an excellent opportunity for such students to gain practical insight into STEM research and the knowledge and confidence to progress to postgraduate studies. 


Who can apply? 

The internships are targeted at students: 

  • who are students at any UK University. 

  • who will have completed three years of study in their four-year integrated masters (England, Northern Ireland, Wales). 

  • who will have completed four years of study in their five-year integrated masters (Scotland). 


Duration and Payment 

The programme typically has 4 interns funded full-time by the Institute of Astronomy for the full 8-week period:

Monday 24 June 2024 – Friday 16 August 2024 

The successful candidates will be paid the real living wage for the eight-week duration of the projects.  


Research Topics 

Over the period of 8 weeks, successful interns will gain experience of undertaking research in an academic environment and potentially motivate them to consider further studies at the Institute. The interns will be supervised by a University Faculty member, research fellow, or postdoctoral researcher. The Programme will include a series of seminars along with regular meet-up sessions in which the Interns will be invited to present their research. 

For an idea of the kind of projects undertaken by interns, you can find a list of the projects that were offered as part of the 2022 programme here and the 2023 programme here

For further details on Research carried out at the institute please visit this link. 

2024 Projects

  • Investigating the effect of interstellar absorption lines on stellar photometric metallicities for Galactic Archaeology – Dr Anke Ardern-Arentsen 

  • Progenitor evolution and dark energy constraints from Type la supernovae using next generation experiments – Dr Suhail Dhawan, Prof Vasily Belokurov

  • Populations of helium stars in the Local Group - Dr Avishai Gilkis 

  • Whispers from the Invisibles: Examine black hole accretion disc models with active galactic nuclei in the deep minimum luminosity state - Dr Jiachen Jiang, Prof Andrew Fabian 

  • Energetic Salsa in the Milky Way: Looking for periodic signals from Galactic X-ray binaries - Dr Jiachen Jiang

  • What is exoplanetary material made of? - Dr Laura Rogers, Dr Amy Bonsor

  • The atmospheric dynamics of the Proterozoic Earth - Dr Greg Cooke 

  • Tackling Computational Challenges in 21-cm Cosmology - Prof Anastasia Fialkov

  • 21-cm Cosmology as probe of the early Universe - Prof Anastasia Fialkov, Dr Harry Bevins

  • Developing Machine Learning Methods for 21-cm Cosmology - Prof Anastasia Fialkov


Equal Opportunities 

The University of Cambridge and the Institute of Astronomy are committed to equality of opportunity, widening participation and a proactive and inclusive approach to equality, which supports and encourages all under-represented groups, promotes an inclusive culture, and values diversity. We particularly welcome applications to this program from groups that are underrepresented (this includes but is not limited to women and/ or candidates from an ethnic minority background) at Cambridge, or in Astronomy as a whole.  

We recognise that a range of factors can impact a student’s path and we're working hard to ensure we engage with every applicant sensitively and fairly, to identify the most talented applicants from all backgrounds. 

We strongly believe that representation of different lived experiences is key to sustaining and developing the open and discursive environment that makes Cambridge such a distinctive and rewarding place to live and learn. 

 To read more about the Equality and Diversity policies at the University please see Equality & Diversity at the University of Cambridge. At the Institute of Astronomy, we have an active Equality Diversity and Inclusion Committee working to further the aims of the Athena SWAN charter. For information on Equality and Diversity at the Institute of Astronomy, see here.  


How to Apply? 

Applications will be via this online form and must include the following: 

  • A single PDF file with a file name in the form "NameSurname_application.pdf" comprises the following 2 documents: 

    • A statement of interest, including an indication of the desired project area(s): Please describe what attracted you to this programme, outline the skills and interests that make you a suitable fit for the tasks you'll be undertaking, and explain how the opportunity aligns with your future goals, the maximum length of one page
    • A CV, maximum length of two pages 

  • You should also ask an academic referee to send a reference letter to by 23rd February 2024 by 23.59(GMT).

  • A photo (biodata page) of your passport (PDF file) 

  • You will be required to prove you hold the right to work in the UK via a relevant immigration status to be eligible for this internship. 

  • Optional information: As part of our equality and diversity and widening participation agenda, if appropriate to their situation, we encourage students to give brief details of how personal circumstances may have affected their academic career to date (max. one page, single PDF file)   

The deadline for submitting the applications is 23rd February 2024 by 23.59 (GMT).



Selection for the internship will be based on merit of education and experience. Additional information related to equality and diversity (in this stage of the selection process) will only be consulted if there are two or more candidates of equal merit to take into consideration whether one is from a group that is disproportionately under-represented or otherwise disadvantaged as described within the ‘Equal Opportunities’ section above. 

A decision can be expected by the end of March 2024. 


Other University of Cambridge Summer Internship Programmes

STEM Widening Participation Internship scheme: The Schools of the Physical Sciences and Technology would like to invite current undergraduate students who are in the penultimate year of their degree to apply for one of 10 eight-week internships which will take place in the summer of 2024 (Monday 8 July to Friday 30 August).

Cambridge Mathematics Open Internships: The Cambridge Mathematics Open Internships Programme is a funded summer research opportunity intended for students in mathematics who are in their late undergraduate (second year and above) or Master’s studies at a UK university other than Cambridge, and who would like to gain first-hand experience as a researcher at the Centre for Mathematical Sciences (CMS) at the University of Cambridge. 



Further details will be available nearer the time. 



Please write to us at with any questions. 


Testimonial from Sebastian Ljung, Summer Intern’23 

‘The IoA presented by far the best internship community that I've experienced so far. The daily Institute-wide coffee breaks and shared intern offices provided friendly company for discussing projects and helping each other when stuck.   

The committee also organised talks (donuts sometimes included) by various members of the Institute. Combined with group meetings and journal clubs in our respective groups these provided an introduction to both a variety of fields and what it's like to be part of a research group. The flexibility in choosing the path of the research project also helped contribute to this experience as after reading papers on the field I got an opportunity to veer the project into a direction I personally found fascinating.  

The interns also represented a nice split between internationals and Cambridge students, such that people still felt the need to make new connections, but we also had access to local spaces like college bars and meeting spots. This made it easier to organise our own events like movie nights and punting.’ 

Testimonial from Almudena Visser Velez, Summer Intern’23 

'My experience as an intern at the Institute of Astronomy was very positive and enjoyable. Everyone was very friendly and it was exciting to be in an environment with so many other astrophysics enthusiasts, with the highlight being a talk on space travel by the Astronomer Royal, Lord Martin Rees, which was very inspiring. There were several opportunities to hear talks from other scientists and get advice from doctoral students and academics regarding PhD applications, which many interns including myself appreciated. The presentations at the end of the project were very helpful in improving my public speaking experience and it has given me the confidence to do more outreach work with my university in the new term. From the presentations,  I learnt from my fellow interns about other areas of astrophysics in areas such as white dwarf stars, exoplanet atmospheres and black holes. Liaising with staff and other interns over lunch and coffee breaks was an interesting opportunity to hear about other types of astrophysics such as computation and instrumentation, and different career journeys as well as getting an idea of a future in academia.  

My supervisors were helpful in giving me clear, achievable tasks to complete and aiding me with coding if I got stuck for a long time and couldn’t resolve the issue myself. I read some papers on supernovae and was introduced to new cosmology that I had not yet studied in my degree, which was fascinating and pleasant as I was learning about astrophysics outside of an exam setting and free to explore my interests in the topic independently. I improved my programming in Python, practised my data analysis and honed my public speaking/communication skills, something I found very helpful as I believe this is an important part of being a scientist. 

I made use of my time at the historic site by exploring astronomy magazines from the library and visiting the 16-inch telescope as well as learning how to operate it. It was inspiring to be immersed in an environment with world-leading astrophysics research, past and present, which could be seen from multiple posters and old photographs of pioneers such as Stephen Hawking and Dame Jocelyn Bell as well as current researchers.'

Testimonial from Xander Byrne, Summer Intern’23 

'I had an amazing time on the internship, getting to know people across a very wide range of astronomical disciplines and forming a lovely little community with the other interns. It was a great way to get some extra scientific experience and my first-ever scientific paper on the work I did there has just been published. I highly recommend this internship for anyone wanting to get a better idea of what professional astronomy is all about.'

Testimonial from Joshua Sharkey, Summer Intern’23 

'I spent my internship working on a gravitational waves-based project with Dr Isobel Romero-Shaw and Dr Suhail Dhawan. This helped me refine my ideas of what I wanted to do for a PhD, get experience with some of the tools and theoretical approaches used within the field, and give me a broader view of some of the current frontiers currently being explored in gravitational wave astronomy. This has greatly helped to strengthen my PhD applications. Whilst working at the IoA, I was also able to interact with academics and students working in other areas, which in turn gave me a broader view of the current research landscape in modern astrophysics. The experience was extremely beneficial for my career, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.'

Testimonial from James Henderson, Summer Intern’23 

'I had a really amazing time on the programme. Everybody was super friendly and welcoming, fellow students and senior academics alike, and that made the exciting research I did there even more enjoyable.'

Testimonial from Fernando Hidalgo Pineda, Summer Intern’23 

'The internship at the Institute of Astronomy stands out from other local and international programmes both for encouraging interns to take the initiative on innovative research projects and for their commitment to their students. We received excellent supervision from astronomy experts in research lines of our choice, besides being able to actively engage in professional talks delivered by researchers from many fields. The organisers planned a multitude of academic and social activities, where we could share our work and get to delve in more depth into others’ findings and motivation.

The programme had an exceptional community of interns. During my stay, I was part of a close group of students of diverse backgrounds with whom I shared many superb experiences. I would highly encourage anyone sharing our passion for astronomy to apply for this programme, as it is an excellent opportunity to grow professionally and gain perspective in academia whilst making the most out of the student life in Cambridge.'

Testimonial from Ema Salugova, Summer Intern’23 

'I really enjoyed my stay at the Institute of Astronomy. I worked in a friendly environment and learned new techniques in research valuables for my further studies/career. I felt really supported by my supervisor and other interns and it felt like those 8 weeks went too quickly. I liked the programme's seminars that introduced current research topics in astronomy. After only 8 weeks, I was lucky to have an opportunity to present my work at a conference.'