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Postgraduate Opportunities and Training

Post-graduate Research Studentships


We are seeking graduate students to undertake research within our PhD and MSc by Research programmes.


STFC PhD studentships: As part of the wider Durham Astronomy Research Cluster (DARC), we expect to take on STFC-funded students for a PhD degree in Astronomical Instrumentation. Students will undertake full-time (or part time) cutting edge research, in addition to our post-graduate lecture courses in their first year: Astronomy and Astrophysics and Astronomical Instrumentation. The STFC-funded PhD studentships cover course fees and living expenses for the duration of the studentship; the eligiblility criteria for a fully funded STFC studentship is based on UK residency 3 years prior to the start of the studentship, unresticted rights to remain in the UK and citizenship of a European Union member state. STFC provides further guidelines about information and eligibility rules for STFC studentships. Applicants are required to have, or expected to gain, at least a 2.1 in an integrated MPhys or a pass in a Masters degree or a 1st class in a Bachelors degree, in physics, astrophysics or mathematics.


Project booklet (STFC funded): This booklet provides details of the funded PhD projects that are available for an October 2025 start, including those for Supervisors based in CfAI. Shortlisted candidates for STFC studentships will be invited for interviews. Note, we have a limited number of international fee quota per year. A new booklet is developed each year.


EPSRC PhD studentships: CfAI also receives PhD studentships funded through EPSRC (on similar terms to the STFC funding) for the less astronomically based instrumentation projects. We will have potential studentships on offer through this route for an October start.


International DDS PhD studentships: A very limited number of these studentships are available, which are open to students of any nationality and are fully funded; i.e., they pay for the course fees and also provide a stipend. Durham Doctoral Studentships (DDS) can be on any project and interested students should consult our group research web pages and contact a suitable staff member to discuss a suitable research project. Please see here for more details, eligibility, and application deadline for DDS scholarships.


Other PhD studentships: We also welcome applications from graduate students to our PhD programmes who are unable to secure (or are ineligible for) one of our fully funded studentships. See our group research web pages for a more comprehensive look at our research portfolio. Students without studentship funding will need to be able to finance both living expenses and course fees. In some cases funding can be obtained from scientific and government agencies in countries outside of the UK. Please also click here, here, here, and here to search for possible funding sources.


MSc by Research: Each year we have a number of projects suitable for the degreee of MSc by Research. A list of potential supervisors and their research areas can be found here. Students will need to be able to finance both living expenses and course fees. Please use the contact information below to obtain further information.


Applications and deadlines: There is no formal deadline for applications but any complete applications (including reference letters) must be received in good time for the deadlines for individual programs. For STFC-funded positions, applications are coordinated through CEA, so please see their webpage for details of the deadlines. For DDS applications the University deadline is usually early January; however, you will have had to contact us before this deadline (typically a week) so that we can work with you on the case for your research project.


How to apply: The application process is through a centralised system and is the same for all funding schemes, including self-funding. Details of how to apply and the link to the application system are given here.


Interview dates: The dates of the interviews for the STFC-funded positions will be end February and early March. Please indicate your availability in the time frame mid-February to mid-March when you put in your application. Interviews for any other studentships will take place on ad hoc basis (as necessary).


English-language requirements: For non-UK students, please note that you will need to meet our English-language requirements; the details are given here. For those students who do not meet these requirements it is possible to undertake an English-language course with us on a pre-sessional programme; see here for the details. However, note that these pre-sessional English programmes can last for many weeks and must be completed before you an start your research programme.


For any other information contact:-

The Postgraduate Administrator,
Department of Physics,
Durham University,
South Road,
Durham DH1 3LE

tel: (0191) 334 3745


For more information, covering everything from fees for overseas students to sport and museums, see the Durham University's graduate student web-pages and our own Physics Department page of information concerning postgraduate life at Durham.