Space and Climate Physics MPhil/PhD

Research areas:

  • Astrophysics: theory of astrophysical processes; active galactic nuclei; galactic structure, dynamics and evolution; gamma-ray bursts; isolated neutron stars and magnetars; accreting black holes
  • Imaging: automated 3D vision and visualisation techniques for space science and climate physics; mapping climate change; search for life using remote sensing techniques; solar-planetary teleconnections to weather
  • Photon and particle detector development: particle detectors; charge-coupled devices; sub Kelvin cryo-coolers for space and ground based applications
  • Planetary science: planetary plasma interaction processes throughout the solar system; giant planet magnetospheres; unmagnetised object and dust-plasma interactions; planetary ionospheres; plasma environment of planets, moons and comets; planetary surfaces from rovers
  • Solar physics: physical processes that control solar activity on all timescales and the consequences of this within the Solar System, including the emergence and evolution of solar magnetic fields; solar eruptions; solar wind formation and the Sun-Earth connection
  • Space plasma physics: local space environment, including the structure and dynamics of the heliosphere and terrestrial magnetosphere; space plasma processes e.g. magnetic reconnection and auroral particle acceleration
  • Theory: theoretical and computational astrophysics of systems from planets, the Sun, stars and galaxies to the Universe
  • Weather and climate extremes: monitoring, modelling and predictions for tropical storms worldwide and global drought, climatologies for wind, precipitation and temperature extremes worldwide.
  • Research training takes place at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory in Surrey.

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IRIS department: Dept of Space & Climate Physics

Entry requirements

An upper second-class Bachelor’s degree, or a second-class Bachelor’s degree together with an MSc from a UK university in a relevant subject, or an overseas equivalent qualification.

English level expected: Standard


Research degrees may start at any time of the year, but typically start in September. Deadlines and start dates are usually dictated by funding arrangements so check with the department or academic unit (contact listed in Next steps, right) to see if you need to consider these in your application preparation. In most cases you should identify and contact potential supervisors before making your application. For more information see our How to apply page.


  • UK/EU Full-time: £4,500
  • UK/EU Part-time: £2,250
  • Overseas Full-time: £20,900
  • Overseas Part-time: £10,450


NERC and STFC studentships may be available.

Scholarships available for this department

CSC-UCL Joint Research Scholarship

Funding offered by UCL and the China Scholarships Council (CSC) aims to expand the educational, cultural and technological cooperation between the UK and China.

Full details of funding opportunities can be found on the UCL Scholarships website


Recent graduates have taken up academic posts at NASA, the Harvard Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Goddard Space Flight Center, European Space Agency and in academia, but others have entered professional occupations, within areas as diverse as IT and finance.

Top career destinations for this programme

  • Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Research Scientist, 2008
  • Met Office, Specialist Forecaster, 2011
  • KU Leuven, Post Doctoral Researcher, 2011
  • EADS Astrium, Consultant Physicist/Engineer, 2012
  • St Catherine's School, Physics Teacher, 2009


All of our PhD programmes require students to develop strong IT skills, manipulate large volumes of data and clearly present their work to a range of specialist audiences. As a result our graduates are highly numerate, technically competent, and articulate, with excellent problem solving skills. This makes them attractive to a wide range of employers, as can be seen from their career destinations. Through international collaborations, interactions with industry and opportunities to work with schools and the general public, they also develop unique insight into the requirements of future employers. This gives them an invaluable competitive edge when beginning their chosen career.


PhD students are actively encouraged to collaborate widely with national and international colleagues through existing departmental links, as well as new ones. Many become involved with space projects, giving them vitally important opportunities to interact with key players and future employers in both academia and the space industry. There are opportunities for public engagement and policy involvement at all levels, including working with schools, the public, applying for funding, sitting on national subject specific committees and meeting with politicians, all of which provide excellent networking possibilities.

Next steps


Dr Daisuke Kawata

T: +44 (0)1483 204161


Space & Climate Physics

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