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Postgraduate Study

The course encompasses several different educational and societal objectives:

  1. Societal demand for multi-domain expertise to tackle the challenges posed by observing and modelling complex systems;
  2. The need to train postgraduate students with high levels of multidisciplinary fluency and team working skills; and,
  3. A demand for highly trained research scientists able to drive data analysis on feature-rich sets of data from diverse sources.

The course has four primary objectives for the training it will provide students:

  • To develop students’ expertise in the techniques used to study planets, from the Earth’s deepest past to the solar system planets and on to exoplanets;
  • To give students a working knowledge of the structure of life, its essential physical-chemical requirements, and its impacts on planetary environments;
  • To ensure students get essential practical experience in running a research project in a team; and,
  • To build students’ capacity in modern data handling techniques and convey an awareness of the wide range of academic and industrial applications of these skills.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will have:

  1. A knowledge of the key scientific concepts in Earth Science, Physics, Chemistry and Biology that contribute to Planetary Science and Life in the Universe
  2. A clear understanding of methods and techniques to discover and characterize planets, exoplanets, and their biospheres.
  3. The ability to critically evaluate scientific tools and methodologies for their application in Planetary Science and Life in the Universe.
  4. Demonstrated originality in tackling and solving problems, and acted autonomously in the planning and implementation of research.


Students wishing to progress to PhD study after passing the MPhil degree should reapply for admission to a PhD through the University admissions website, taking the funding and application deadlines into consideration.

Open Days

The Institute of Astronomy and other MPhil participating Departments contribute to the University of Cambridge's Postgraduate Open Day.

The Postgraduate Virtual Open Day usually takes place at the end of October. It’s a great opportunity to ask questions to admissions staff and academics, explore the Colleges virtually, and to find out more about courses, the application process and funding opportunities. Visit the Postgraduate Open Day page for more details.


This course is advertised in the following departments:

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Key Information

10 months full-time

Master of Philosophy

Institute of Astronomy This course is advertised in multiple departments. Please see the Overview tab for more details.

Course - related enquiries

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Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Michaelmas 2024

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
May 16, 2024
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2024

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Course Funding Deadline
Dec. 5, 2023
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 11, 2023

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2024, Lent 2025 and Easter 2025.

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