Research degrees and studentships

There are a number of routes open to 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.

PhD and MSc projects are offered in the following research areas. STFC-funded PhD places are 3.5 years full time and MSc projects 1 year full time. Click each link to view a short abstract of the projects offered for start in October 2020 within that area.

STFC Research Studentships

The School 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, as well as University funded studentships. We expect to offer 3 full-time STFC studentships to start in October 2020. These full-time studentships are normally awarded for 3.5 years. The student receives an annual stipend (£15,009, tax-exempt). Priority will be given to applications received by 1 Feb 2020.

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). In practice in CAR 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 EU students not currently resident within the UK, and to overseas (non-EU) students. A few of these studentships are available every year. Applicants must meet the same criteria as STFC students. The University also expects applicants to have an IELTS (English proficiency) score of normally 6.5 or above. The closing date for applications is the same as for STFC studentships.

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 under-represented in physics. For the purpose of this fund the definition of under-represented groups in physics refers to: women, students of Black-Caribbean, Back-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 Dr Sugata Kaviraj as soon as possible (and no later than 15 December 2019) 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 10 January 2020. 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 Dr Sugata Kaviraj, postgraduate admissions tutor, for advice on qualifications, fees, possible research projects and working arrangements. Self-funded PhD students can apply for a £25,700 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 2020 for entry in October 2020. Potential applicants should contact us for advice on qualifications, fees and further information.

How to apply :

To apply, a completed application form, along with two letters of reference, should be returned (by post or email) to Emma Thorogood 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 Emma Thorogood.

The application form can be downloaded on this link or can be requested from Emma Thorogood.

Prospective candidates should contact Dr 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.


Emma Thorogood

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

Tel: 01707 286083

Fax: 01707 284185

Dr Sugata Kaviraj

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

Tel: 01707 284223

Fax: 01707 284185