Institute for Astronomy

PhD Studentships

PhD studentships at the IfA.

The IfA has around 30 PhD students at any one time, and each year we admit a new cohort.

Admissions for October 2020 entry are now complete.  The next round, for admission in October 2021, will open later in the year, with an application deadline in late December/early January 2021 (date to be confirmed)

Information from last year

For general interest only; deadlines will change.

The deadline for applications to start PhDs in September 2020 is: January 24th 2020.

To apply, follow the instructions for University of Edinburgh Postgraduate Study (although the application refers to 3 year PhDs, most of our funded places are in fact for 3.5 years). In the "research proposal" section, list which of the projects or areas offered you would be interested in.


Please read our list of PhD projects on offer at the IfA for September 2020.

After interview, we will make offers to students matched to a specific project and supervisor, though if your interests change we can consider alternatives later.

The IfA has strong connections with the Astronomy Technology Centre,  and some PhD projects are in conjunction with that ATC members.  We also have close links to the Higgs Centre for Innovation, and students may have opportunities for placements with start-up companies based there.

Funded Places

The IfA usually has about six PhD places per year funded by STFC for 3.5 yrs.  For 2021 entry onwards,  International, European and UK nationals are all eligible for this STFC funding.

We typically have one (or sometimes two) scholarships we can also offer to UK or international applicants - you should apply to the  Principal's Career Development Scholarship (PCDS), which provides a stipend and fees at UK/EU, and (if non-EU) the Edinburgh Global Research Scholarships (EGRS), which pays for the additional overseas fees.  From time to time we also have other funding available.

We welcome applications from students with external funding; please note that like most UK universities, Edinburgh charges higher fees to some categories of overseas students.

We encourage all qualified applicants to apply for our places.

Timetable - obsolete

  • 24th January 2020: Deadline for all applications to the PhD programme at the IfA.
  • 3rd February 2020: Deadline for applicants who would also like to apply for the PCDS.
  • 17th February 2020: Deadline for international applicants who would also like to apply for the EGRS.
  • February - March: Interviews scheduled and invitations sent
  • 31st March 2020- Decisions (mostly) finalised for funded places


The focus in Edinburgh is on undertaking thesis-related research from the outset of the PhD. This proceeds in parallel with formal training in background knowledge and transferrable skills. In the first year, there is a reading group that covers the basics of astrophysics in a series of tutorial sessions. 

Also during this year, students take a variety of advanced courses in physics and astrophysics, as advised by their supervisor. These courses are part of the graduate school of the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA) , which allows access via video technology to a wide range of courses throughout Scotland.