Postgraduate study

The University of Manchester is home to the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics (JBCA), by some measures the largest astrophysics group in the country.

There are three options for postgraduate studies at The Department of Physics and Astronomy:

  • One year (full-time) or two-year (part-time) Astronomy and Astrophysics MSc by Research
  • One-year MPhil in Astrophysics
  • PhD in Astrophysics, normally of three to three and a half year duration

Our research programme includes observational and theoretical studies covering almost the whole of modern astrophysics: from the discovery of planets orbiting other stars, to the origin of the universe in the Big Bang. The group is also a world leader in radio-astronomy-related technology development for ground and space-based instruments.

Members of the group use telescopes working across the electromagnetic spectrum, including those in Hawaii, Chile, the USA, the Canary Islands, and Australia, together with space telescopes such as Planck, Spitzer, Chandra, and Hubble.

A long heritage in astrophysical research includes playing a leading role in the discovery of quasars and gravitational lenses, and finding the first double pulsar; the most stringent tests of Einstein's general theory of relativity.

Now available: PhD projects list for 2020 (check back regularly for updates)

PhD funding  deadlines:

  • STFC funding: Friday 24th January 2020 for full consideration

  • Other funding schemes: Check scheme details. International applicants are especially encouraged to apply early.

Application received after the deadline date will be dealt with on a best-efforts basis. See the funding page for more details on these bursaries.

Research at The Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics

Jodrell Bank control room
The Control Room of the Lovell telescope and MERLIN.

Radio astronomy facilities

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 centre 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 sub-millimetre wavebands.

International visitors

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.

Major computing systems

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.

Events, lectures and workshops

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 occasionally 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 organised in Manchester.

PhD projects

Most of our research groups hope to take on at least one new student each year. Details of specific PhD projects are available. Demand for students always exceeds supply and 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.

Further information

Applications procedure: see the Department of Physics and Astronomy page for How to Apply. If you have some idea of research areas or projects that you are interested in then we would strongly urge you to include your top three projects, in rank order, within the application.

References can be emailed directly to

Additional information: see the postgraduate section on the Department of Physics and Astronomy website.

Information for overseas students: please consult our page on further information for international students.

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