Our graduate students are vital and valued members of the Astrophysics sub-department, and we offer a wide range of opportunities for graduate study, with DPhil (PhD) projects available in instrumentation, observation and theory. Our research groups span a diverse range of topics covering all of modern astrophysics, from cosmology through to exoplanets, galaxies, transients, pulsars, high-energy astrophysics and more. Candidates may also want to look at projects in the Theoretical Physics and Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics sub-departments; applications to more than one sub-department are encouraged. There is a frequently asked questions section at the bottom of this page.
Projects for 2023 Entry
An overview list of project titles for entry in October 2023 can be found on this page. You can find further details of each project by navigating to the relevant project area either via the menu for this page, or through the links below. If you have further questions regarding these projects, we encourage you to make contact with the supervisors listed, who will be happy to hear from you. We are offering a range of projects in the following areas:
- Exoplanets and Stellar Physics
- Transients, Pulsars and High-Energy Astrophysics
We are hosting an Open Day for prospective students on Monday 5 December, 2022.
Read comprehensive information on fees and funding for graduate students. Please note that in order to be considered for any of the UKRI funding sources, you are required to submit your application before the earlier deadline of Friday 6th January 2023.
How to apply
All applications must be made through the central University of Oxford graduate admissions website where you will find information about applying to any of the six DPhil courses on offer at the Department of Physics.
It is important to note that you are not required to select a final project or supervisor at the point of application; while it is useful for us to know the broad areas you are interested in, we do not expect you to have made a final decision on your preferred projects or supervisor and there will be various opportunities to discuss your interests before offers are made.
Applying for more than one DPhil within Physics
If you would like to apply for more than one DPhil course within the Physics sub-departments, there is no need to complete a separate application for each or pay more than one application fee; please refer to the instructions for applying to related courses.
When submitting your application, you need only submit an application to one of the DPhil courses and please list on your application form (ideally under 'proposed field or proposed supervisor') which other DPhil in Physics courses you also want to be considered for. Please note that different DPhil courses may have differring requirements or word limits in terms of supporting documentation. If this is the case, you are welcome to upload more than one version of a supporting document and confirm which DPhil course panel it is for the attention of. If applying to multiple sub-departments within Physics, your application will be reviewed independently by each sub-department panel who all run their own independent recruitment process. This may mean that timelines on interviews and offer dates can vary.
If you have any questions regarding applying for the DPhil in Astrophysics, please contact the Graduate Administrator Ashling Gordon via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (01865 273303).
Can I do a masters degree in astrophysics at Oxford?
No. At graduate level we only offer the DPhil research degree (equivalent to Ph.D.) in astrophysics. In addition to the DPhil courses, the Maths and Physics departments jointly offer a taught Masters course in Mathematical and Theoretical Physics, see MMathPhys.
Where can I find an overview of the Astrophysics DPhil course?
The main University information page may be found here. More detailed information on DPhil projects can be accessed from the sidebar on the left.
Am I required to add a research title or supervisor on the application form?
We don't expect a specific research proposal and supervisor preference at application stage. If you have a strong preference at this stage then of course you are welcome to, however we suggest you enter "Astrophysics", optionally followed by specification of a general project type, such as "Observation", "Theory" or "Instrumentation". If you are shortlisted for an interview, you will be given multiple opportunities to speak with different supervisors before confirming your preferences.
What should I write in the research proposal section of the application form?
According to our selection criteria, we are looking for people who are able to study astrophysics at a high academic level, and who can provide evidence of interest in astrophysics and motivation to study it. You should certainly describe any research project that you have been involved in (e.g. an undergraduate astrophysics research project) or give any other evidence of your motivation and commitment to studying astrophysics. You should also thoroughly review the information on our web pages, and if you have a specific interest in any area you should describe why. You are welcome to contact potential supervisors if you are interested in a specific project, but we do not expect you to know precisely in which project area you would like to work. If you are interested in a particular area, you need be no more specific than the general area, for example the areas listed here. You do not need to specify a particular supervisor and project when submitting your application.
Do I need to submit any additional written material?
No, we do not require any additional work. If you do have any relevant work that you have done, such as formal written work from an astrophysics project that you have completed, you may include that in your application if you wish. Please do not send any large or bulky items, however.
Who can provide a reference?
We ask for 3 academic references but these references can also be provided by institutes where you have undertaken an internship, or where any directly relevant experience has been gained. It is important that you input the work address for all referees and not generic personal addresses, such as Gmail/Hotmail for example. Referees will also need to submit their references by the January deadline so please ensure you notify them of these dates.
How long does the course last?
The normal period is about three and a half years.
Are there taught courses in the D.Phil programme?
The D.Phil programme is a research degree and you normally start working on your main research project as soon as you arrive. But in parallel with that, you will be expected to attend a taught course in astrophysics in the first year, comprising lectures and discussion classes at a graduate study level. Depending on your level of astrophysics knowledge, we may also require you to attend astrophysics lectures in the final-year (masters-level) undergraduate course at Oxford.
My undergraduate degree has been obtained overseas will I be at the right level for starting a research degree?
We have a number of current graduate students who studied at overseas universities. We look carefully at each individual application and try to assess whether you are suitably qualified to start a research degree. You should apply following our standard procedures, giving as much information as you can, and we will assess your application on its individual merits.
My first language is not English, but I have studied at an English-speaking university. Do I need to provide proof of proficiency in English?
We will require you to provide recent proof of competence in spoken and written English, as given in the selection criteria. This is not required at application stage, but would be a condition if an offer is made and would need to be completed by the August before your start date.
The requirement to provide proof of English language proficiency may be waived, at the discretion of the University, in cases where you have successfully completed, or are currently completing, a full-time degree-level course of a minimum of nine months at a recognised institution where the medium of instruction and assessment is entirely in English. If this is applicable you should include a written test waiver request with the reasons outlined as part of the documentation for your application.
When will I hear the outcome of my application?
Candidates will be shortlisted for interview a few weeks after the January application deadline, and interviews will be held in Oxford in late February and early March 2023. Candidates invited for interview will have an opportunity to talk with potential supervisors about projects in detail when they visit for interviews.
How can I find out what funding options are available to me?
You will be automatically considered for UKRI funding if you are eligible. For those not from the UK, you will also be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and apply for your course by the relevant January deadline. Your eligibility for these scholarships is determined by the information on your application form. There are a small number of Scholarships that require a separate application and you can find details of all scholarships available on the link above.
I am an EU student, what are my funding opportunities now?
Following an announcement by the UK Universities Minister on 23 June 2020, EU fee status students starting a course in 2022/23 will no longer be eligible to pay fees at the ‘Home’ rate and will instead be charged the higher ‘Overseas’ rate. This change will not apply to Irish nationals living in the UK or Ireland, who will continue to be charged fees at the ‘Home’ rate for the duration of their course. You can find a statement from the University, along with more details on funding here.
The application asks me for a college preference. How do I choose a college?
Your offer of a place will also come with a college place. You can choose a college preference at the application stage, but do not have to do so. If you have no preference, you can leave that section of the application form blank and you will be automatically assigned one. You can find more details regarding college preferences here.
Will I get a chance to meet supervisors before deciding on a project?
Offers are made to work on a particular project, therefore after your interview we will ask you to let us know your top 3 project choices, should you be successful. Anyone attending our Open Day will get to meet potential supervisors, and during our in-person interview days supervisors will also be available to meet. For anyone shortlisted for interview but not based in the UK, there will be the option to arrange Zoom discussions.
Any other questions?
For any other queries related to your application that have not been addressed here, please contact email@example.com.
If your query is a technical difficulty or a problem with uploading, or making changes to, your application, please contact the central Graduate Admissions team via the ‘contact us’ form on the application page. Please always quote your applicant number when contacting them.