Astronomy PhD


Fact file

PhD Astronomy
Up to 4 years full-time
Entry requirements
2:1 (or international equivalent) in physics, mathematical physics or mathematics, or a joint degree containing substantial elements of physics or mathematics.
6.5 (6.0) If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
Please contact the school for details
University Park
Other requirements

Research overview

The focus of our research in Nottingham is on cosmology and extragalactic astronomy, from studies of the large-scale structure of the Universe to understanding the formation and evolution of galaxies. Galaxies form the building blocks of the observable Universe, and we can now observe these structures over 13 billion years back in time. How did galaxies form, and how did they evolve to produce the variety of phenomena we see today?

We tackle these fundamental problems using a variety of complementary and collaborative approaches, from detailed studies of galaxies in the local Universe through to evolving galaxies at intermediate redshifts, and finally by observing the most distant galaxies in the process of formation.

Complementing our observational effort, our theoretical and numerical expertise provides the vital context for our observational programmes, from numerical studies of galaxy and structure formation through to studying the physics of the intergalactic medium and the cosmic web.

Further information can be found on the Nottingham Astronomy Group website.



Each student is provided with their own desk space, and has access to a computer and the wider university computing and library facilities. When required, research students also have access to the University’s High Performance Computing Cluster.

Photocopying and telephone facilities are also provided. 

The school has an established Research Training programme for new postgraduate students, designed to introduce researchers to key skills within their field, and to provide basic transferable research skills. 

In the last two years, we have spent more than £500,000 on a complete refurbishment of all of our teaching laboratories and purchase of new equipment. 

As well as the main Physics building, the school has two additional centres sited close by - the Centre for Astronomy & Particle Physics (CAPT) and the Sir Peter Mansfield Magnetic Resonance Centre (SPMMRC). In 2003, Professor Sir Peter Mansfield, a researcher in the School for many years, jointly received the Nobel for Medicine for development of magnetic resonance imaging for medical purposes. Also linked to the school is the newly opened Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Centre, a coordinated nanotechnology resource for pure and applied research and teaching.  

Research support

Postgraduates are integrated into the research community of the school through participation in research seminars given by visiting speakers, and research workshops given by members of the School. There is an active postgraduate research group in each of the school's main research areas. 

Each student normally has two research supervisors from within the school. 

The Graduate Office is here to assist you during your time at Nottingham and beyond.

The Students' Union is a particularly important source of support. 


Find a supervisor

We encourage you to get in touch with a member of academic staff about your research proposal before submitting an application. They may be able to help you with your proposal and offer support to find funding opportunities in your area. Details of research supervisors at the University can be found on our research A to Z.


UK/EU Students

Financial support for maintenance and university fees is available from the Research Councils, particularly EPSRC, STFC and MRC, from University and School Studentships, and from industry. 

Suitably qualified British students normally resident in Great Britain are eligible for Research Council studentships, which cover both maintenance and fees. Occasionally industrially-linked CASE studentships are also available. 

Although Research Councils will pay the fees of suitably qualified EU nationals, both maintenance and fees may also be covered by the University/School studentships. 

Research students may usually expect to augment their income by undertaking up to six hours per week of demonstration in practical laboratories or by marking undergraduate exercises.

The University Graduate School operates two schemes of its own to help support current postgraduate research. The Graduate School Travel Prize and Universitas21 funding. 

For prospective students, the University has introduced a new funding database. The Graduate School also holds a list of other sources of fundingStudentship opportunities are also available. 

Government loans for doctoral study

The Government recently introduced doctoral student loans of up to £25,000 for PhDs and equivalent research programmes. Applicants must ordinarily live in England.

Doctoral training programmes

Linked to research councils, doctoral training programmes offer funding opportunities connected to our research priorities.

International and EU students

Research scholarships are available for outstanding international and EU students. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure your course application is submitted in good time.

Information and advice on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study is available on our website, as well as country-specific resources.



Visit the School page for additional opportunities


Average starting salary and career progression

In 2016, 90.9% of postgraduates in the school who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £28,260 with the highest being £30,000.*

*Known destinations of full-time home higher degree postgraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career Prospects and Employability

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers* and can offer you a head-start when it comes to your career.

Those who take up a postgraduate research opportunity with us will not only receive support in terms of close contact with supervisors and specific training related to your area of research, you will also benefit from dedicated careers advice from our Careers and Employability Service. Individual guidance appointments, career management training programme, access to resources and invitations to events including skills workshops and recruitment fairs are just some of the ways in which they can help you develop your full potential, whether you choose to continue within an academic setting or are looking at options outside of academia.

The Graduate Market 2013-2017, High Fliers Research.


This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

Dr James S Bolton
School of Physics and Astronomy
The University of Nottingham University Park

Student Recruitment Enquiries Centre

The University of Nottingham
King's Meadow Campus
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Nottingham, NG7 2NR

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