PhD studies with the Astrophysics Research Institute

The Institute offers higher degree programmes at PhD level for part-time or full-time students. The majority of students will follow a 3.5-year full-time route leading to the award of PhD. Studentships are generally funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council and our own research funds. For PhDs starting in 2024, you can expect the studentship to correspond to around £18,000 per year. If you are from groups currently under-represented in physics, you might also consider applying for a Bell Burnell scholarship (see below). We currently take in several new students every year. Informal enquiries may be made to Dr Marie Martig.

Funding opportunities

For PhDs starting in 2024, we have a number of available opportunities:

  • Standard 3.5 year studentships, partly funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council. We do not ask you to pick a PhD project at this stage: students choose their project during the first two weeks of their PhD, after discussing possible options with a range of staff members. We are providing a list of potential PhD projects. If your favourite topic is not in the list, we highly encourage you to contact staff in your fields of interest to discuss PhD projects. Apply before 18 February 2024.
  • 4-year studentships within our Centre for Doctoral Training for Innovation in Data Intensive Science (LIV.INNO): Two projects are available this year, with a separate application procedure.
  • Distance Learning PhDs (full time or part time), if you are unable to move to Liverpool but would like to study with us. The first step for anyone willing to apply for a DL PhD is to find a potential supervisor and a project: contact staff in your fields of interest. We do not offer studentships for DL PhDs, but might have a small number of bursaries to cover the fees. The full cost of fees for a DL PhD is currently £14,136 for home students, and £25,800 for international students (see Fee Information for PhD and MPhil Programmes). If you wish to apply for a fee-only bursary, please follow our standard application procedure described below, before 18 February 2024.


Successful applicants need to have gained an MPhys or MSc degree in an appropriate subject (for example physics, astronomy, mathematics) by the time they start their PhD. Applications from international students (EU and non-EU) are accepted this year (please check if you qualify for home or international fees).

We are committed to achieving equality of opportunity, and we value the diversity of our staff and students. We see diversity as a positive force to generate excellent research and explore the unknowns of our Universe together. We strongly encourage candidates of all different backgrounds and identities to apply.

Application procedure

  1. Download the application form.
  2. After filling it, save it as a pdf file. Send this pdf file and an official transcript by email to Dr Martig.
  3. Ask two referees to send a letter of reference by email to Dr. Martig. Please make sure that at least one of your letter writers can comment on your research experience and research skills.

For full consideration, applications including reference letters should be submitted by the deadline, when the committee will begin reviewing applications. Applications received after the deadline may be considered at the discretion of the committee until the positions are filled. We will conduct interviews in early March.

How we will review your application

Our aim is to perform a rubric-based holistic review of applications, inspired by the method described in Young et al 2021 (adapted to the UK system and our own criteria). Our first criterion is "academic preparation": this ranking will be based on your marks (we will pay special attention to your marks in astrophysics modules, in maths, and in practical/computational modules).

Next, we will assess your research experience: the nature and quality of your research project(s), the technical skills you have learnt, your general commitment to and enthusiasm for research, and if you understand what the process entails (this ranking will be based on your written application and on the interview).

Based also on both application and interview, we will attempt to assess non-cognitive competencies: achievement orientation, conscientiousness, initiative and perseverance. While there is no obligation for you to share anything too personal, feel free to explain in your application if and how you have had to overcome obstacles (including social, economic, and personal obstacles).

Finally, we will assess how well you fit with the ARI: if you can explain clearly why you want to do a PhD with us, if you have made positive contributions to your community, and if you either belong to an underrepresented identity group or have been an active advocate for diversity in physics.

Don't worry, we don't expect anyone to fulfil all those criteria, but we hope that this holistic process will give us a fairer view of PhD applicants.