Laboratory astrophysics

Qualifications Duration Start dates Application period
PhD Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
February and October January to April
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
Start dates
February and October
Application period
January to April

Our research is in experimental molecular physics, with specific application to astrophysical environments. We are particularly interested in ices (molecules in the solid phase) in space – such as the icy mantles which coat microscopic dust grains that make up the vast clouds of dust and gas from which stars and planets form, as well as ice-covered planetary bodies in our Solar System. Since we cannot grab a handful of ice from space, we simulate astrophysical environments in the laboratory and carry out systematic investigations to unravel their physical and chemical properties.

We use in situ techniques to learn about their structure and composition and subject them to various types of processing, simulating cosmic rays and stellar winds, to learn about the molecular interactions that lead to the formation of complex organic molecules. This work is pivotal to understanding how the molecular building blocks of life are formed in space and goes hand-in-hand with astronomical observations.

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 undergraduate degree (or equivalent). If you are not a UK citizen, you may need to prove your knowledge of English

Potential research projects

  • The search for realistic interstellar ice analogues: ice films, icy aerosols and molecular clusters
  • Electronic structure and dynamics of adsorbed and condensed phase PAHs

Current/recent research projects

  • The physico-chemical properties and aggregation of interstellar dust and ice

Potential supervisors

Fees and funding

UK fee International fee
Full time: £4,786 per year Full time: £15,698 per year
Part time: £2,393 per year Part time: £7,849 per year

Some of our research students are funded via Doctoral Training Partnerships; some are funded by University studentships; others are self-funded.

For detailed information about fees and funding, visit Fees and studentships.

To see current funded studentship vacancies across all research areas, see Current studentships.


Purple nebula and cosmic dust

How to apply

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