Institute of Astronomy

Part II General Information

Incoming 2023-24 students, please note, the following information is for reference only. We are currently in the process of updating our website and course guides and will be in touch with futher information via email over the summer.

It is hoped that as a Part II Astrophysics student, you will feel part of the Institute of Astronomy and will participate in some of the activities that maintain its friendly and interactive atmosphere.

The IoA staff have coffee (and tea) in the Hoyle building foyer from about 11 am. There is no charge for coffee for Part II Astrophysics students.

Journal Club and Social
There will be a series of sessions for Part II and Part III students which are designed to build confidence in giving presentations and will also allow socialising between the two-year groups. The sessions are run by enthusiastic PhD students who will offer friendly advice on preparing and giving scientific talks (lecturers do not attend). Further details of these events are to be confirmed.

Public Outreach
The IoA runs an extremely successful programme of Public Outreach on Wednesday evenings. Student participation is welcome. More information will be provided during an introductory session, which will be delivered by our Public Astronomer, Matthew Bothwell.

There are several possibilities for lunchtime food provision. Snacks can be obtained on site from the vending machine located in the Hoyle building. Off-site there are several possibilities for canteen style food (CMS, Cavendish Laboratory and Churchill College) and a full range of meals at the Hauser Forum as well. There is also a bread and cheese lunch held on Wednesdays at 12:30pm, which precedes the Seminar.  

Undergraduate computing facilities are provided by the University Computing Service and the Colleges. Part II Astrophysics students may use the CATAM Public Workstation Facility, details of which are provided in the CATAM handbook

The Institute of Astronomy library holds 8,000 books and 11,000 volumes of astronomical periodicals. Undergraduate students are encouraged to use the library facilities. There is a selection of the recommended textbooks for the courses in the library area on the first floor of the Hoyle building, and a complete set in Library room B in the Observatory building. All books must be used within the confines of the library and returned to the correct location on the shelves after use. If you need any help, ask the Librarian, Mark Hurn, who has an office in the library area in the Observatory building.

College libraries should also have copies of the recommended textbooks.

There is a photocopier in the reprographic room (opposite the vending machine), another is located to the right of the stairs to the Lecture Theatre in the Hoyle building and there is one in the main library in the Observatory building. Course-related copying is free of charge. For private copying there is a charge of 3p per A4 sheet.

Summer Projects
A summer placement undertaking astronomical research may be of interest, particularly for those considering a PhD in Astrophysics. The Institute of Astronomy has only a very modest summer

student programme and the few positions available are deliberately targeted at students who are not familiar with the Institute.

It is in your own interests to broaden your experience of research beyond the Institute and obtaining a position elsewhere can be rewarding and benefit future applications for PhD places. Unfortunately, there is no central clearing system for summer positions, and it is a case of making enquiries to individual departments/observatories. Many departments in the UK do have positions and those with larger astronomy groups, e.g., Durham, Edinburgh, Oxford, Manchester, are particularly worth investigating. Further afield, several observatories and European groups offer places, e.g., Anglo-Australian Observatory, Australia and Lund Observatory, Sweden.

Some departments/observatories offer funded placements but within the UK it may well be worth making an application for a RAS bursary in collaboration with your target institution/supervisor but you will need to be organised and contact departments in January.

Page last updated: 5 August 2023 at 16:25