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Postgraduate Study

Course closed:

Astronomy is no longer accepting new applications.


The PhD degree is essentially a full-time research course and there are no formally assessed lecture courses.

First-year PhD students are expected to attend an induction programme and a number of short courses covering research skills.  Student journal club and presentation sessions operate weekly during the term. The total number of course and journal/presentation hours involved is approximately 40 in the first year of the PhD.

Acquiring knowledge of research in a broad range of astrophysics is an important part of the PhD. In addition to specific PhD-related talks and discussions, students are expected to attend two weekly seminars or colloquia during the term.

One to one supervision

The University of Cambridge publishes an annual Code of Practice which sets out the University’s expectations regarding supervision.

Journal clubs

First year PhD students are expected to attend a weekly Journal Club session during term time.

Posters and Presentations

First Year PhD students are expected to attend a weekly Presentation Practice session during term time.


Students can expect to receive an online feedback report each term and have the opportunity to submit a self-evaluation report annually.


Thesis / Dissertation

The PhD degree is awarded primarily on the quality of a thesis, of not more than 60,000 words, constituting a substantial contribution to original research. The thesis is assessed critically by two examiners who then conduct an oral examination upon the subject of the thesis and the general field within which it falls.


Formal registration for the PhD degree occurs at the end of the first year. Students complete a report, of no more than 10,000 words, describing their work during the year and a proposal for the research to be undertaken during the second and third years. The report is examined by two assessors, including a viva examination with the student. Following submission and examination of a satisfactory report, students are formally registered for the PhD degree, backdated to the date they began their research.

As an aid to progress with PhD research, students also submit short reports on their work in each subsequent year. On each occasion students then meet with two assessors to discuss progress and review plans for future research.

Key Information

3-4 years full-time

4-7 years part-time

Study Mode : Research

Doctor of Philosophy

Institute of Astronomy

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
Dec. 5, 2023
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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