Astrophysics and Space Research PhD/MPhil: University of Birmingham

Javascript is required to view this map.
Astrophysics and Space Research PhD/MPhil: University of Birmingham, Professor J M F Gunn, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Astronomy Aerospace
PhD – 3 years full-time, MPhil – 1 year full-time
Scholarship and Grants

+44 (0)121 414 4564
+44 (0)121 414 4644


The research carried out by the Astrophysics and Space Research Group covers a wide range of areas, with programmes of international importance in gravitational physics, extragalactic and stellar astrophysics, extrasolar planets, and the study of the sun and heliosphere. In addition, the group's Centre for Space and Gravity Research develops instrumentation for space astronomy and physics, as well as for ultra-sensitive ground-based measurements.

In the gravitational area, they are at the forefront of the emerging field of the use of gravitational waves as a new window on the universe. They are centrally involved in the development and application of complex data analysis techniques, using their own 200-CPU Beowulf cluster, as part of the science consortium for the current front-ranking, ground-based detectors GEO600 and LIGO.

They are also engaged in constructing the second-generation ground-based gravitational wave detector, Advanced LIGO, which will supersede these, as well as space-based GW observatories like LISA, which offer the promise of still higher sensitivity in the next decade. In addition, they are developing a novel microwave detection system for high-frequency gravitational waves, and have a vigorous programme of research into the measurement of extremely weak forces, using interferometric and other sophisticated experimental techniques.

Their extragalactic research group has established a strong reputation in the study of galaxies, groups and clusters of galaxies, and the large-scale structure of the universe. This comprehensive and highly integrated programme gives our work a distinctive environmental flavour. They have a strong record of winning time on major international observational facilities, at X-ray, optical and radio wavelengths.We combine these observations with innovative data analysis and modelling techniques and hydrodynamical simulations of large-scale hot gas flows in our research.

A feature of our work is the study of gravitational lensing, which can magnify very distant galaxies, and directly probe the cosmic distribution of dark matter. New developments within the group include collaborations with colleagues in the School of Computer Science, with the aim of introducing advanced algorithms into astronomy, and integrating them into the rapidly developing Virtual Observatory, in which the UK plays a strong role.

Closer to home, the group has a strong interest in X-ray binary systems, involving neutron stars and black holes, which are studied using data from a variety of space-borne observatories. Finally, they are involved in the rapidly growing field of extrasolar planets. they have developed instrumentation for a wide variety of satellites studying the sun and heliosphere, and as a result, have access to information on activity in the sun and its surrounding environment, extending to the outer solar system. Recently launched solar instruments are also being employed to search for the subtle variations in stellar brightness, which signal the presence of transiting extrasolar planets.

Head of group

  • Professor Trevor J Ponman

For more information

English language requirements

Entry requirements

Entry requirements are given in each programme, school or department entry of this prospectus. Any academic and professional qualifications or industrial experience you may have are normally taken into account, and in some cases, form an integral part of the entry requirement.

For more information visit

How to apply

Online applications

If you submit an online application, please write your ID number on your supporting documents when you send them to us. You will receive an ID number by email on the day after you submit your application (apart from applications submitted on Friday, Saturday or Sunday when the email will arrive on Monday).

If you send in your supporting documents before completing the online application form, please make sure that you write your full name, date of birth and the programme you are applying for on all the documents.

Paper application form

If you apply using the paper application form, please include, where possible, your supporting documents with the application.

Where to send supporting documents

  • Address: Admissions
    Aston Webb Building
    University of Birmingham
    B15 2TT

Tuition fees and costs

The University charges an annual tuition fee. This covers the cost of your tuition, examination and graduation, and includes membership of the Guild of Students. Fees are payable at the start of your programme.

When you accept the offer of a place, you are also accepting responsibility for the payment of your tuition fees, even if you are sponsored or in receipt of an award and the sponsor fails to pay. It is therefore very important that you have sufficient funds available to you. Unfortunately, if you fail to pay the fees, you will not be permitted to continue your studies.

For more information about tuition fees visit

For general information about open days

Our Postgraduate Open Day is the ideal opportunity to visit the University and find out more about the research areas or programmes that interest you.

We aim to provide all the information you will need to make the right decision. Talks on relevant issues including funding, the value of postgraduate study and facilities for postgraduate students will run throughout the day.

For more information about Postgraduate Open Day

For more information about other tours and visits

Contact details

Main University Switchboard

  • Postal Address: University of Birmingham
    B15 2TT
  • Tel: +44 (0)121 414 3344
  • Fax: +44(0)121 414 3971

Postgraduate Admissions

International Applicant Enquiries

Financial Support Office

People who viewed 'Astrophysics and Space Research PhD/MPhil: University of Birmingham' also found interest in following institutions . . .