Postgraduate research opportunities in Astrophysics
The Exeter Astrophysics group is one of the largest and most vibrant groups in the UK studying stars and planets. The group’s research activities are mainly devoted to four areas: star formation, exoplanets, stellar physics, and the interstellar medium. At Exeter, the PhD normally lasts for 3.5 years of full-time study (maximum of four years), and “funded” positions typically include a living stipend (and payment of course fees) for that time. International students are encouraged to apply, but may not be eligible for all potential sources of funding.
Current funded opportunities
The deadline for applications for entry in 2022 has now passed. Please check back later in the year when new opportunities will be advertised for 2023 entry.
Information for self-funded students
In general, applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK. All students must meet the University’s minimum English language requirements by the start of the project. We receive many more applications than it is possible to accept or fund. As a rough guide, virtually all successful applicants will have undertaken a substantial research project before beginning the PhD, will have excellent reference letters attesting to their work, and will have strong academic records in relevant coursework.
Why choose to study an Astrophysics PhD at Exeter?
Funding and investment
- Exeter astrophysics has been particularly successful recently in both STFC and EU funding. The group has been awarded eight prestigious ERC grants, funding a number of Postdoc and PhD positions.
- £1.3million investment from the University for research into extrasolar planets.
- Opportunity to work with experts at the forefront of their fields of research.
- Exeter astrophysics is continuously expanding, branching into new and upcoming areas of astrophysics such as exoplanet atmospheres, the galactic interstellar medium and stellar magneto-hydrodynamics.
- Use telescopes in places such as Hawaii and Chile.
- Travel to conferences around the world to present research.
- Access the £1million supercomputer at Exeter and the UK DiRAC high performace computing facilities.
- Many PhD students go on to do postdoctoral research.
A fantastic location
- As well as being a thriving university city, Exeter is also situated in one of the most attractive parts of the UK, with Dartmoor National Park and the South Devon coast less than an hour away.
Hear from our past PhD researchers about their time at Exeter
The Astrophysics group at Exeter combines all aspects you could want from a work environment. Relaxed yet hard-working, supportive yet giving you the freedom to develop yourself as an individual scientist, social yet still slightly stereotypical of an academic environment. There is always something going on that you can get involved with, and the balance between work and social life is well maintained.
You are surrounded by people who are experts in their field and still love what they are doing, and any one of them is happy to lend an ear or a thought if needed. I doubt I would be working where I am today without the support and knowledge of this group.
Hannah Wakeford, 2015 graduate
NASA Postdoctoral Fellow at Goddard Space Flight Center, USA
Image shows Hannah scuba diving with manta rays in Hawaii after observing on Mauna Kea
A key factor for me when I was deciding where I would do my PhD was a department in which I would be able to carry out research that would allow me to gain direct observing experience. The observational research that is carried out within the astrophysics department at Exeter uses many different techniques across a wide range of wavelengths. As many of the researchers work with data that has been obtained from world-class, ground based observatories, I knew that I would have the opportunity to gain hands-on observing experience.
The skills and knowledge that I have developed over the course of my PhD have not only provided me with the expertise to continue my career as an observational astronomer, but also during my time in Exeter I have gained a network base of both colleagues and friends that stretches around the world.
Joanna Bulger, 2014 graduate
Postdoctoral researcher at Arizona State University, USA
Image taken by Joanna Bulger: capturing sunrise after a night of observing at Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA
The astrophysics department in Exeter is an excellent environment full of great people. The staff are certainly experts in their fields but, perhaps more importantly, still have the time to lend an ear and sound advice at the drop of a hat. The department has a great atmosphere: lively PhD students and knowledgable postdocs, with lots of occasions for social gathering as well as hard graft!
The Devon coast is a lovely place too, and the view from the astro floors of the coast is quite something. While a PhD is not without its bumps in the road, the experience at Exeter is one I would recommend without hesitation.
Alex Pettitt, 2014 graduate
Postdoctoral researcher at Hokkaido University in Japan
Image shows Alex at the IAU298 conference in Lijiang, China
My time at the University of Exeter was exceptional. I was able to work on my research in a place where academic quality is high and the surrounding nature is amazing. The astrophysics school is leader in star and planet formation and exoplanets. Being part of the department was exciting as you knew that everyone in the group was working on cutting edge science. To relax I would go to Cornwall or North Devon to surf, or go for a run along the quay.
Eli Bressert, 2012 graduate
Bolton Fellow at CSIRO in Sydney, Australia
Image shows Exeter quay at night, taken by Eli Bressert
Doing a PhD in Exeter was great - I enjoyed the campus, the city and the nearby countryside. After spending many years in Paris it was nice to be surrounded by trees and wildlife. The PhD at Exeter offered me many opportunities, from travelling abroad to collect data and present my work, to being involved in astronomy outreach, making a direct impact on people's lives.
Aude Alapini, 2010 graduate
Teacher of Science at Newton Abbot College, Devon
An excellent group with world leading researchers and a friendly social atmosphere. The group is large enough to provide a broad range of stimuli for research, such as a full list of visitors and speakers, but small enough that we have retained an excellent group identity, with regular social events and discussions. I loved, and continue to love, working in the astrophysics department at the University of Exeter.
Nathan Mayne, 2008 graduate
Senior Lecturer in Astrophysics at the University of Exeter