Research degrees and studentships

We are looking for suitably motivated and qualified individuals who wish to undertake postgraduate research in astrophysics leading to either the PhD or MSc degree. We also offer, if resources allow, part-time PhDs.

In this round, PhD projects are being offered in the following research areas. PhD places are 3.5 years full time, starting in Oct 2021. Click each link to view a short abstract of the projects offered within that area. Priority will be given to applications received by 1 February 2021. 

STFC Research Studentships

The Department of Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics receives an annual allocation of postgraduate studentships funded by the Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) for PhD research in Astrophysics. We expect to offer 3 full-time STFC studentships to start in October 2021. These full-time studentships are normally awarded for 3.5 years. The student receives an annual stipend (£15,285, tax free).

Applicants must hold, or expect to have been awarded by the starting date, at least an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant discipline (e.g., physics, astrophysics, mathematics, computer science). In practice in the Centre for Astrophysics Research we would normally expect applicants to hold an undergraduate Masters degree (MPhys/MSci) or a masters-level postgraduate qualification, or to be able to demonstrate significant relevant professional experience gained outside academia. Applicants must also meet the eligibility requirements for STFC studentships, which are only open to UK residents.

UH Research Studentships

These studentships are open to both UK and international students. A few of these studentships are available every year. Applicants must meet the same academic criteria as STFC students. The University also expects applicants to have an IELTS (English proficiency) score of normally 6.5 or above.

Bell-Burnell fund

The Bell-Burnell fund is a new scholarship fund, administered by the IoP, to support full or part-time graduates who wish to study towards a doctorate in physics and are from groups that are currently underrepresented in physics. For the purpose of this fund the definition of under-represented groups in physics refers to: women, students of Black-Caribbean, Black-African and other minority ethnic (BAME) heritage, students with disabilities, or who require additional funding to support inclusive learning, LGBT+ students and students from disadvantaged backgrounds who may struggle to find the levels of funding needed to complete their studies. People with qualifying refugee status who meet the above criteria are also encouraged to apply.

If you are eligible and wish to make an application to study at Hertfordshire through this fund, please contact the postgraduate tutor as soon as possible (and no later than 8 December 2020) with the name of the project that you would like to pursue and the name of the relevant supervisor. The application form has three independent parts that need to be completed by the student, prospective lead supervisor and the Head of School (or equivalent) and the deadline for submission is noon on 22 January 2021. Guidance notes for this fund are available here.

Self-funded and part-time PhD

Suitably qualified candidates may also register as self-funded full-time or part-time PhD students, contingent on sufficient resources being available and research staff commitments. Applications are considered on an individual basis and may be made at any time. Potential applicants should contact Prof Sugata Kaviraj, postgraduate admissions tutor, for advice on qualifications, fees, possible research projects and working arrangements. Self-funded PhD students can apply for a government loan

MSc by Research

We also offer an MSc by Research degree which can be taken either full-time (1 year) or part-time (2 years). Students who enrol in this programme will gain a training in research methods and have the opportunity to work on a substantial research project under the supervision of a member of the research staff. As with the PhD, assessment is through submission of a thesis documenting the research project and a viva voce examination. Students are responsible for the payment of fees and living expenses, although a Brian May Scholarship in Astronomy, worth £ 2000, is awarded each year. The minimum entry requirement is a lower second class honours degree in physics, astrophysics, mathematics or computer Science. Entrance is not automatic at this level and we will be particularly interested in any previous research or other relevant experience that you may have. Applications are welcome up until June for entry in October. Potential applicants should contact us for advice on qualifications, fees and further information.

How to apply:

To apply, a completed application form, along with copies of higher education certificates, transcripts, a copy of your passport and two letters of reference, should be returned (by post or email) to Lynette Spelman at the address below, by the closing date. You should arrange for your referees to write separately using the form provided or send their reference via email to Lynette Spelman.

The application form can be downloaded on this link or can be requested from Lynette Spelman.

Prospective candidates should contact Prof Sugata Kaviraj for advice on making their application or for further information and are encouraged to contact potential supervisors directly for more details about specific projects.


Lynette Spelman

Research Student Admissions
Doctoral College
University of Hertfordshire
College Lane
AL10 9AB

Tel: 01707 286083

Fax: 01707 284185

Prof Sugata Kaviraj

Postgraduate Tutor
School of Physics, Astronomy & Mathematics
University of Hertfordshire
College Lane
AL10 9AB

Tel: 01707 284223

Fax: 01707 284185