Ph.D. Application Procedure


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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 Board of Graduate Studies' Application form (GRADSAF).

Information for applicants, application forms and answers to many frequently asked questions can be found in the Graduate Studies Prospectus.

Completing the Board of Graduate Studies Application Form

Please note that for entry in October 2012 there is a non-refundable application charge of GB£50 for online applications and GB£100 for paper applications. See the Board's Prospectus for details of how this should be paid.

Contrary to instructions you will find for completing the GRADSAF Form (Section A(12)) it is NOT necessary to identify a supervisor or provide details of a specific Ph.D. project in that section of the form. For applicants in the United Kingdom who are likely to be called for interview, it is helpful to indicate in Section A(12) of the application whether they are principally interested in theoretical or observational work. If there are particular subject areas or members of staff that may be of interest then please also provide such information but such details are not required.

UK and EU applicants will be automatically considered for STFC funding and should complete Section B(3) of the GRADSAF. For eligibility please see the STFC Studentship handbook.

For applicants in Europe or overseas who are not normally called for interview it is also NOT necessary to identify a supervisor or provide details of a specific Ph.D. project in Section A(12) of the form. However, it is essential for both the applicant and the Institute that the range of Ph.D. topics to be offered includes research opportunities of interest to the applicant. Applicants should, therefore, provide some information concerning the research fields in which they are interested and the names of members of staff whose research is of relevance and with whom they might wish to work.

If you wish to be considered for University funding, please note the various funding deadlines and complete Section B of the GRADSAF.

If you wish to apply to more than one Department  i.e. Institute of Astronomy, Physics, 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 Board of Graduate Studies instructions which can be found at

Please contact or (Professor Paul Hewett, Chair, Graduate Admissions Committee) at the Institute of Astronomy with any course specific enquiries.

What happens next?

Applications will be acknowledged by email soon after receipt at the Institute.

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.

Applications for STFC-supported places should arrive early in the New Year as the initial selection will be made in late February and shortlisted applicants resident in the UK will be asked to visit the Institute during the period 14-16 March 2012; the Institute will cover reasonable travel expenses. Applicants will be interviewed, typically 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 ranking candidates. In the case of applicants for non-STFC funded places, offers will be made subject to academic performance and to the necessary funding being obtained. Regrettably, the combined cost of fees and living expenses for non-EU nationals requires resources of at least £29,000 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 (Professor Paul Hewett, Chair of the Graduate Admissions Committee) or  before responding.


Details of how to apply can be found in the Graduate Studies Prospectus

Application deadlines for 2012: UK and EU applicants eligible for full STFC funding should apply early in the New Year and by mid-February 2012 at the very latest. Overseas applicants, also wishing to apply for Cambridge funding, should be guided by the relevant funding deadline (see funding section above) 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.

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