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, we are at the forefront of the emerging field of the use of gravitational waves as a new window on the universe. We are centrally involved in the development and application of complex data analysis techniques, using our own 200-CPU Beowulf cluster, as part of the science consortium for the current front-ranking, ground-based detectors GEO600 and LIGO.
We 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, we 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.
Type of Course: Doctoral research
Duration: PhD: 3.5 years full-time; MPhil: 1 year full-time
Our 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. We 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, we are involved in the rapidly growing field of extrasolar planets. We 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.
Universities in the United Kingdom use a centralized system of undergraduate application: University and College Admissions Service (UCAS). It is used by both domestic and international students. Students have to register on the UCAS website before applying to the university. They will find all the necessary information about the application process on this website. Some graduate courses also require registration on this website, but in most cases students have to apply directly to the university. Some universities also accept undergraduate application through Common App (the information about it could be found on universities' websites).
Both undergraduate and graduate students may receive three types of responses from the university. The first one, “unconditional offer” means that you already reached all requirements and may be admitted to the university. The second one, “conditional offer” makes your admission possible if you fulfill some criteria – for example, have good grades on final exams. The third one, “unsuccessful application” means that you, unfortunately, could not be admitted to the university of you choice.
All universities require personal statement, which should include the reasons to study in the UK and the information about personal and professional goals of the student and a transcript, which includes grades received in high school or in the previous university.
Ensure your qualifications meet our entry requirements for research degrees
To gain admission to a research degree programme (with the exception of the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Medicine (MD)) an applicant must comply with the following entry requirements:
* Attainment of an Honours degree (normally a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree or equivalent) in a relevant subject awarded by an approved university, or
* Attainment of an alternative qualification or qualifications and/or evidence of experience judged by the University as indicative of an applicants potential for research and as satisfactory for the purpose of entry to a research degree programme.
* Admission and registration for a research degree programme may be conditional on satisfactory completion of preliminary study, which may include assessment.
* In some cases you will also need to have completed a Masters degree or equivalent qualification in a relevant subject.
* Entry onto many programmes is highly competitive, therefore we consider the skills, attributes, motivation and potential for success of an individual when deciding whether to make an offer.
* Specific entry requirements are given for each programme. 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 entrance requirements. If your qualifications are non-standard or different from the entry requirements stated in the online prospectus, please contact the relevant school or department to discuss whether your application would be considered.
* After we have received your application you may, if you live in the UK, be invited for an interview or to visit us to discuss your application.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Since April 2014 the ETS tests (including TOEFL and TOEIC) are no longer accepted for Tier 4 visa applications to the United Kingdom. The university might still accept these tests to admit you to the university, but if you require a Tier 4 visa to enter the UK and begin your degree programme, these tests will not be sufficient to obtain your Visa.
The IELTS test is most widely accepted by universities and is also accepted for Tier 4 visas to the UK- learn more.
Scholarships and studentships We have a number of studentships supported by the UK research councils EPSRC and STFC available each year, including some CASE awards. These studentships cover the costs of tuition fees and provide a subsistence allowance for 3.5 years. They are available to UK nationals with at least an upper second-class Honours degree from a UK university, or equivalent. Preference is usually given to those holding four-year MPhys or MSci degrees.
We offer about half a dozen postgraduate teaching assistantships each year as top-ups to EPSRC and STFC studentships. There are also substantial opportunities for postgraduate demonstrators. EU nationals may be eligible for fees-only awards, which are occasionally supplemented by the School.
International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.
See the University of Birmingham Website for more details on fees and funding.