Research Degrees

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Daisuke Kawata
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Philippa Elwell
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Holmbury House

In early 1965, UCL took ownership of the Holmbury House estate and the first scientists began moving there from London. This established MSSL, now the UK's largest university space research group with an international reputation for excellence. 

The lab has the unique capability of designing, building and testing instruments and spacecraft systems on site, with development engineers working closely with research scientists. This ensures the instruments are as relevant as possible to the research needs and the data analysis is made easier by having the instrument's designers on site. 

Part of the PhD program at MSSL is a course on the development of space instrumentation utilising the unique environment at MSSL. 

Surrey countryside

MSSL is set in the middle of the Surrey Hills, a designated Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty, between Guildford and Dorking. The lab is surrounded by countryside, with hundreds of local walks and great views to the South coast and London from the nearby Leith Hill. 

Getting to London is easy, with fast trains leaving Guildford every 15 minutes and taking just over half an hour. The south coast is also only about an hours drive away. 

Locally, the village is within walking distance and has 2 pubs, both with lovely people and great food. The nearest town is about a 10 minute drive away, with plenty of banks, shops and supermarkets. 

To see MSSL's location, see our How To Find Us page

The Lab has its own social club, which any student or staff member is welcome to join.

The club offers plenty of opportunities to play sports on an informal basis, with weekly football and badminton sessions organised locally, as well as a summer croquet championship.   Ad hoc events such as kayaking have also taken place.  Members of the social club enjoy the onsite swimming pool throughout the summer months and occasional barbeque lunches by the pool are very popular.

Pub trips give the chance to meet the other students at the lab, or the other people in your particular research group. The committee has also organised additional events such as a Christmas party and bonfire night. 

Student flats

Accommodation is usually available for first year PhD students in the student house on site, Ariel House, a short walk from the laboratory. It has seven bedrooms, a large lounge, 2 shared kitchens and 2 shared bathrooms along with great views over the surrounding countryside. 

In subsequent years, students generally have no difficulty in finding accommodation in nearby towns and villages. 

"Everyone seems to know each other and are genuinely friendly because we have our own little community here" 

"This place is amazing, it's like Charles Xavier's house in the X-men" - A Visiting Student 

"How many other physics departments have their own swimming pool?!" 

"Just across the road there are over 3000 acres of woodland I go jogging in, with spectacular views of the surrounding area and only deer to share it with" 

A guide to being a new student at MSSL has been prepared by some of the currents students and is available to download. 

Page last modified on 09 sep 11 09:57