Study With Us

PhD in Astrophysics at JBCA


The University of Manchester is home to the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics (JBCA), by some measures the largest astrophysics group in the country. The group includes about 170 people, who are based either in the Turing Building on the University South campus; at Jodrell Bank Observatory (JBO), which lies 20 miles south of Manchester. The Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics is part of the School of Physics and Astronomy.

The research interests of the JBCA span almost every area of astrophysics, from the Sun to the Big Bang and we are one of the world's most important centres for the technical development of radio telescopes and instrumentation. The JBCA is responsible for the operation of the MERLIN and VLBI national facilities and the Lovell telescope; JBO is the operations centre for these facilities.

General information about Graduate study at the University of Manchester is available at the University Graduate Study Site. Further details of research projects can be obtained by contacting the members of staff responsible for the projects.

The PhD course is aimed at students with a good honours degree in Physics or a Physics-related subject such as Mathematics, Astronomy and Astrophysics, and Electrical and Electronic Engineering. Courses generally begin in mid-September, at the start of the academic year, although it is possible to start in January, April or July. Funding for home students is available for a limited number of PhD places via 3.5-year STFC (Science and Techology Facilities Council) awards. See the funding page and the application section below for further information on funding and application procedures.

Ph.D students who have not studied astrophysics at fourth-year level are expected to take courses which cover the research topics they are working in, after which they will work full-time on their research projects. Students who hold an M.Sci. or M.Phys. in Astronomy, Astrophysics, or Physics with some specialisation in astronomy will take only a small amount of coursework (e.g. a course on radio astronomy). Entry to the second year of the Ph.D. course is conditional on passing any coursework and submission of a satisfactory report at the end of the first year. The degree of Ph.D. is awarded following the submission of a thesis largely based on original work by the candidate. A good thesis should contain material suitable for publication. Candidates defend their theses in an oral examination conducted by external and internal examiners.

Students will be based in the Turing Building on the University campus, just south of the Manchester City Centre, a 10-15 minute walk from Manchester Piccadilly train station. We are building number 46 on this Campus Map.

Information for overseas applicants:
The University of Manchester is host to students from 160 countries around the World. More information about the University of Manchester, JBCA and PhD application opportunities and procedures for overseas students is available from our overseas page.

Key Dates

Applications for PhDs starting in 2017

You are encouraged to act early in applying for PhD positions in order to ensure full consideration for the full range of studentships and bursaries on offer. In particular, EU and international applicants seeking funding are strongly encouraged to apply as early as possible. Applicants who are externally or self-funded may apply at any time.

Please note the following deadlines for particular funding schemes:

Applications for PhD starting Janurary 2017

In principle applications for a January 2017 start can be accepted up until December 2016. However there is generally little or no funding avaliable for this start date. Please contact Physics and Astronomy Postgraduate Admissions if you are considering applying for this start date. Externally-funded or self-funded applicants can be considered at any time.

Research at The Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics

Research Icons

Jodrell Bank is one of the world's leading centres for radio astronomy and is involved in the operation, construction and use of a number of world-leading radio astronomy facilities, including e-Merlin, ALMA and SKA.

The research interests of the group have widened to encompass almost every area of astrophysics from star formation to the cosmic ray background and staff and students make full use of international facilities across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, including optical, infrared and submillimetre wavebands.

As well as the permanent staff, astronomers from around the world frequently visit Jodrell Bank for periods of days to months, to make observations, reduce data, or participate in technical and astrophysical collaborative projects.

Jodrell Bank hosts a number of major computing systems, including a 1440 CPU core cluster, a 326 CPU core based cluster for simulations and many individual powerful workstations for offline data processing, all served by high-speed connections to the internet. Students have access to these systems should they require them for their projects, in addition to being allocated a PC for their normal computing requirements. We have a rolling programme of renewal of our student computing equipment.

Colloquia by visiting scientists are held weekly at Jodrell Bank during term-time. A less formal "Internal Seminars" series provides a forum for staff, postdocs and students to present their recent work, report back from international conferences, and occasionalily review the literature! Typically several one- or two-day research workshops are held at Jodrell Bank each year. Students are expected to attend these events as part of their general astronomical education. Students may also be encouraged to attend particular lecture courses or astronomy workshops organized in Manchester.

Astrophysics PhD Projects 2017

Most of our research groups hope to take on at least one new student each year. Details of specific PhD projects are available. Due to the limited number of scholarships available each year, there are always more projects on offer than we can fund. So, it is usually safe to assume that there will be a project available in the area you want to work in, even if it has not been specifically listed.

Financial Support

JBCA offers a wide range of partial and full-funding PhD bursaries and scholarships for UK, EU and overseas students. Please refer to our PhD funding information page.

Further advice for international applicants is available on our overseas page.


You can apply online; read the following notes first.

When to apply

Early application is advised. We normally start making offers for our quota of Science and Technology Facilities Council PhD studentships, for entry in September, in late February. For full consideration, applications, including referee forms, for STFC studentships should be submitted before February (see Key Dates section).

In accordance with STFC rules, offers (made by us or any other institution) can be held until 31 March if the successful applicant so wishes. Applications with alternative sources of funding can be considered at any time.

See the funding page and the Graduate School information page for further details about funding. If you wish for funding from any source other than a STFC Research Studentship (UK/EU) you must apply for it separately as well as filling in this application form.

The form

Please complete the application form carefully and fully. Your nationality should be that which is recorded in your passport. Please enclose details of any disability/special needs. This information will not prejudice your application but will be helpful in discussing whether the university facilities are sufficient to meet your needs. Contact the Disability Advisory and Support Service for more information.

All graduate students are required to be proficient in the English language. Students whose first language is not English or who have studied at an institution where English is not the language of instruction should arrange to take the IELTS Test or the TOEFL test and either enclose their official score reports or send them to us as soon as they are available. Please note that on the IELTS test applicants are expected to score a minimum of 6.0 overall; on the TOEFL test a minimum of 550 is required on the paper test, 230 on the computer-based test or 88-89 on the internet-based test.. Applicants may be required, as a condition of admission, to undertake training in the English language.

What to include

It is important that the application returned to us is filled in completely and accurately. Referees' reports may be included in sealed envelopes with your application, or sent directly to us by the referees in the case of online applications. Although we try to reach decisions within a few weeks of receiving applications, consideration of applications may be delayed until the referees' reports arrive. You should enclose copies of your degree certificates and official transcripts, where appropriate. Where appropriate, you should also include score reports for English Language tests. If you would like a written acknowledgement of your application, please enclose a stamped self-addressed postcard; otherwise acknowledgements will be sent by email. Any document enclosed which is written in a language other than English must be accompanied by a certified translation into English.

You do not need to send us a 1000-word account of the research you propose to undertake as specified in the Graduate Study website. It would however be helpful to us if you specify up to three areas of interest on the "areas of proposed research" part of the form; this is used to gauge demand for particular subject areas.


The University has a wide variety of accomodation available and Manchester also has a thriving private sector offering flats and houses for rent.