About your course
Fascinating postgraduate research opportunities await at LJMU’s Astrophysics Research Institute - one of the world's leading authorities in Astronomy and Astrophysics. Join us to work alongside leading experts and access state-of-the-art facilities.
- Study full or part time
- Complete your research degree (MPhil/PhD) in an Institute known for its internationally-acclaimed research
- Explore scholarship opportunities
- Benefit from expert supervision and researcher training
- Enjoy excellent facilities and great employment connections
The Liverpool Telescope is a fully robotic 2.0 metre telescope owned and operated by the Astrophysics Research Institute. It is situated on the summit of La Palma in the Canary Islands.
Introduction to the School
The Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI) provides world-leading research in astrophysics, and local and national public engagement activities.
The Institute works particularly closely with schoolchildren, enhancing knowledge and interest in Astrophysics and other science subjects.
It has around 25 researchers plus post-doctoral research assistants and PhD students carrying out research in:
- Galaxy Evolution
- Star Formation
- Time Domain Astrophysics
- Astronomical Instrumentation
Researchers publish around 125 refereed papers each year, co-authored with astronomers worldwide. They collect and analyse astronomical data across the electromagnetic spectrum from international premier observatories and satellites.
Why study this course at LJMU?
LJMU’s Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI) is at the forefront of developments in this fascinating field of study.
For more than 10 years, the ARI has owned and operated the unmanned two metre, fully robotic Liverpool Telescope (LT). Sited on the summit of the island of La Palma in the Canaries, the LT exploits its rapid reaction capability to gain new insights into the physics of transient astronomical sources over timescales of a few seconds to many years.
The Institute also carries out substantial programmes in local and national public engagement. The National Schools' Observatory (NSO) is a major educational website allowing schools to make their own observations alongside professional astronomers using the LT. More than 10,000 observations are taken annually for more than 2,000 registered schools across the UK. The NSO is widely recognized as a powerful way of developing key scientific and literary skills in schoolchildren, through direct experience of a major international research facility. It has recently held exhibitions in the Houses of Parliament and at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
Programme outline and structure
Supervision for the degrees of Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is available from world-leading experts, in the following subject areas:
- Astrophysics including studies in Star Formation; Stellar Evolution and Stellar Populations
- Time-Domain Astrophysics (particularly novae, supernovae and gamma-ray bursts)
- Galaxy Formation, Dynamics and Evolution (including AGN)
- Galaxy Clusters and Large Scale Structures
The programme route you undertake will depend on your qualifications and experience. Most of our students initially register for MPhil/PhD and go on to complete their PhD via successful progression from MPhil.
You can study for an MPhil full time over one or two years or part time over two to four years. Progressing from an MPhil (and including MPhil registration), you can study for a PhD full time over 33 to 48 months or part time over 45 to 84 months. If you are taking a direct route PhD, you can study full time over two to three years or part time over three to six years.
On joining LJMU you will be allocated up to three supervisors (including a Director of Studies) who will work with you during your studies. Progression monitoring is undertaken formally and informally by this team on an ongoing basis.
Each year, each Faculty provides the University Research Degrees Committee with a summative report on the progress of all its eligible postgraduate research students.
Throughout your studies, you will also have the support of LJMU’s Graduate School which offers expert advice and guidance to those enrolled on MPhil and PhD programmes.
What you will study on this degree
Specific research-related training needs are identified on an individual basis.
You can study topics such as:
- Advanced Presentation Skills
- Applying for Ethical Approval
- How to be an Effective Researcher
- Poster Presentation/Design
- Postgraduate Employability Skills
- Project Management
- Writing Skills including Creative Planning for Writing your Thesis
- Surviving the Viva
- Speed Reading
How will I be assessed?
Final examination for both the MPhil and the PhD is by thesis and oral examination.
The MPhil differs from the PhD in terms of the depth of study required and the extent of your personal contribution to knowledge. It requires competence in conducting an independent enquiry as well as in the use of appropriate research methods and techniques. Examiners will expect you to display satisfactory background knowledge of the subject.
To gain a PhD you are expected to show mastery of a special field and to have made an original personal contribution to the understanding of a problem, the advancement of knowledge, or the generation of new ideas. Examiners will expect you to be at the forefront of understanding in your chosen topic.
If you are studying for an MPhil you may be able to progress to a PhD, via written and oral assessments in Year 2 (for full time students) or Year 3 (for part time students).
Staff research interests
Around 99% of LJMU research submitted to the REF 2014 for the Physics category was considered world-leading or internationally important.
This research ensures that your learning is at the vanguard of developments in the field and enables you to study alongside leading experts.
To review staff research areas, click here.
Entry requirements (Home)
To study for an MPhil or MPhil/PhD you should have, or expect to obtain, a minimum 2:1 Honours degree in a relevant subject. If you are applying for a PhD direct you must:
- have a Masters degree with a research dissertation in a relevant subject
- have undertaken research training directly related to the PhD project
If you have alternative qualifications, your application will be considered on merit. Appropriate research and previous experience will be taken into account.
Application and Selection
All research degree registrations are subject to approval by the Faculty and University’s Research Degrees Committee. The Applications process is as follows:
- Complete and submit your application using this online form
- You will receive an acknowledgement receipt
- Your application will be considered by the Admissions Tutor
- We will take up your academic references
- You may need to provide further information or attend an interview
- You will be informed if your application has been successful and will find out about any conditions of acceptance
Tel: 0151 231 2919 or email: Professor Salaris
Entry requirements (International)
Besides standard qualifications, international students must also have an IELTS score of at least 6.5 (or equivalent).
Due to Visa restrictions, international students may only study in the UK on a full time basis. However, you may be able to undertake a part time research degree in your home country and travel to LJMU for campus-based research for a short period each year. Please contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team for further details. To obtain a Tier 4 Visa for full time study in the UK, you will need to show evidence that the money to cover your tuition fees and living expenses has been in your bank account for at least 28 days prior to submitting your Visa application. For more details, see our international website.
International Astrophysics students will require ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) clearance. Find out how to apply for ATAS clearance here, see more information about ATAS on the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website or contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team for guidance.
6.5 (Minimum of 5.5 in each component)
58-64 (Min. 51 in each component for UKVI Purposes)
Please Note: All international qualifications are subject to a qualification equivalency check via NARIC.
Securing funding can be one of the main hurdles you face when considering postgraduate research. However, help is available. LJMU has a team of fees and funding experts who can offer advice based on your personal circumstances. You can contact them on 0151 904 6056/6057 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may also wish to contact the Astrophysics Research Institute direct about locally available funding opportunities.
Studying for a postgraduate research degree enhances your employability in a number of ways.
As well as enabling you to focus on your specific areas of interest and expand your subject knowledge ready for employment in your chosen sector, a postgraduate research qualification enables you to take charge of your career path by demonstrating your contribution to an area of knowledge. It enhances your self-confidence and showcases your ability to work independently and ‘go it alone’.
According to a report by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), more than a quarter of graduates felt that their employment prospects were increased by their PG qualification. And when it comes to earnings, those with a postgrad qualification have been shown to earn an average of 24% more than those who leave education with an undergraduate degree.
Some postgraduate research students are already in full time employment when they begin their studies, whilst others are recent graduates looking to extend their research capabilities and subject expertise.
A good proportion of our students return to their existing roles with enhanced career prospects, others move on to further study or take up teaching roles in universities and other educational establishments.
International applicants are required to demonstrate equivalent qualifications to the standard requirements for entry when applying for courses at LJMU.
Students must also demonstrate a proficiency in communicating through English, for example via an IELTS tests or equivalent.
Please note: UK visa restrictions mean that international students are only permitted to study on a full-time basis.
Please contact LJMU’s International Team by visiting www.ljmu.ac.uk/international for more information and advice.
LJMU has launched a range of generous international scholarships for students enrolling at the University.
These prestigious scholarships take the form of tuition fee waivers and are available for outstanding international students applying for taught postgraduate programmes and research degrees.
You will need to complete an additional application form in order to be considered for these scholarships. Full eligibility criteria and the online application form are available here: www.ljmu.ac.uk/international
Applications for these scholarships are welcomed from:
- new international applicants
- current LJMU international students hoping to progress onto postgraduate study at the University
- LJMU international alumni
English for Postgraduate courses bursary
A bursary will be available for students who must complete the six week English for Postgraduate Studies course to improve their IELTS score by 0.5 prior to enrolling on their postgraduate taught or research degree at LJMU.
This bursary take the form of a tuition fee waiver, which will be deducted from your tuition fee when you enrol on your degree programme. You do not need to complete the online scholarship form in order to receive this bursary. Please note: If you are awarded this bursary you are not eligible to apply for an international scholarship.
The University may make changes to a programme of study or module where such changes are deemed to be beneficial to students, are minor in nature and unlikely to impact negatively upon students or become necessary due to circumstances beyond the control of the University.
Further guidance on programme changes