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 can join. The social hut has table tennis and some fitness equipment and you can also use the swimming pool and BBQ in the lab grounds. The committee organizes events such as the Christmas party and bonfire night. 

There are plenty of opportunities to play sports on an informal basis, with volleyball, cricket matches, weekly football sessions and a summer croquet championship. 

Pub trips are organised regulary and give the chance to meet the other students at the lab, or the other people in your particular research group. 

Student flats

Accommodation is usually available for all first year PhD students in the student flat on site, no more than a few minutes from your desk. It has seven bedrooms, a large lounge, a shared kitchen and a shared shower room. 

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