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School of Physics and Astronomy

How to Apply


We expect to be able to award three Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) quota studentships starting September/October 2020. In addition, we often have additional sources of studentships, including Queen Mary-funded studentships and China Scholarship Council (CSC) studentships. Other studentship opportunities will be advertised on the web site as they arise.

  • STFC studentships
    STFC studentships can be awarded to UK and EU students who satisfy the eligibility criteria. A full studentship lasting 3.5 years will cover the payment of tuition fees as well as tax free maintenance costs (£17,009 p.a. for 2019/20). Briefly, the eligibility criteria for a full STFC award are:
  • A good upper second or first class honours degree or a masters degree.
  • UK citizen resident in the UK, or
  • EU national resident in the UK for the 3 years prior to enrolment, or
  • Any person who has settled status in the UK, and who has not been in full time education for any part of the 3 years prior to enrolment.

Applicants are advised to check the detailed criteria from the STFC website. EU nationals who have not been resident in the UK are eligible for a tuition-fees only STFC award and will need to provide their own living expenses.

  • College studentships
    Queen Mary offers a number of college-funded studentships each year across a full range of academic disciplines. For 2020 entry, these include the waiver of tuition fees and tax free maintenance costs of c£17,000 p.a. Students of all nationalities are eligible for these studentships. The allocation provided to the School of Physics and Astronomy varies from year to year, so please consult the School of Physics and Astronomy PhD page for details of studentships on offer for the coming academic year. Please note that college studentships normally provide funding for a period of 3 years.
  • CSC studentships
    If you are interested in pursuing a PhD in the the Astronomy Unit under the CSC studentship scheme please contact the PhD admissions tutor, Prof. Richard Nelson. More details on the scheme can be found here. Applicants considering a CSC studentship are encouraged to contact us early, and formally apply for a position.
  • International studentships
    A number of other international studentships are available, but have specific eligibility requirements and application procedures. Please see the International Scholarships page for more information.

Applications Procedure

Applications open in October at the start of each academic year. For entry in 2020, to be considered for award of an STFC or College studentship, applications should be submitted by 31st January 2020. Applications made after that date may still be considered for studentships depending on availability. A shortlist of candidates will be selected and invited for interview in mid-February, after which offers of studentships will be made. In the case of applications from overseas the interview may be conducted over the telephone or by teleconference. Applications depending on self-funding or an external source of funding are invited at any time.

IMPORTANT: To access the online application form please:

  • Go to the Queen Mary Research Degrees course finder web page
  • Select the "Astronomy and Astrophysics" link
  • Click through the link on right hand menu: PhD Astronomy Unit - Semester 1 start (between Sept - Dec).

Please use the link for Full Time research degrees. You will be asked to enter your information and will have the opportunity to upload supporting material including:

Applicants will also be asked to give the details of two referees who will be contacted directly by QMUL to submit a reference. Further information including guidance notes can be found here. If neccesary you can save the information and continue the application at a later time. You are encouraged to contact us before applying if you want to ask questions about possible research projects.

The Statement of Purpose and Research Proposal are both important documents in the admissions process. The Statement of Purpose is to allow you to describe your previous achievements, research experience and future plans, etc. It helps us to decide on the personal abilities and aspirations of an applicant. The Research Proposal is more specific in terms of research you wish to do in your PhD (although this can be quite broad), but again this enables us to assess your writing skills and general, preliminary knowledge of the subject. The Research Proposal section may be written after you have discussed possible projects with Astronomy Unit staff, although prior discussion of the proposed PhD project with a potential supervisor is optional. The Statement of Purpose and Research Proposal should each be no longer than one A4 page.

If you have any questions or require further details please contact the Astronomy Unit PhD admission tutor Prof. Richard Nelson. For more general enquiries please contact the Postgraduate Programmes Officer Robert Miles via email (, or in writing at the following address:

Postgraduate Admissions
School of Physics and Astronomy
Queen Mary, University of London
Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS

We have open days for prospective PhD students a couple of times per year; see the Open Day Events page for more information.

Selection procedure

The normal minimum entry requirement is an upper second class honours degree in Physics, Astronomy or Astrophysics, Mathematics, or in a subject with substantial physics and/or mathematics content. Candidates with alternative qualifications or an appropriate level of research experience gained in the workplace may also be accepted, subject to College approval. Acceptance of candidates for studentships will also depend on any eligibility criteria specified by the funding body.

For selection of studentships we will draw up a shortlist of applicants who will be invited to interview. Students based in the UK will be interviewed face-to-face at Queen Mary. For overseas candidates, the interview may be conducted by telephone or via video conference. The interview will normally last for approximately 30 minutes, and candidates should be prepared to discuss technical issues relevant to the subject area of their proposed research, in addition to describing any relevant project work they have conducted during their undergraduate or Masters-level education.