Interviews for UK-based applicants will take place during March 3-5, 2020
We invite a number of UK-based applicants for a short formal interview: while the interview will only last about 20 minutes we encourage you to stay for lunch and to spend as long as you can in the Department.
The interview panel are a group of five academics from the UCL Astrophysics group who study different topics – the current membership is Prof. Nicholas Achilleos (chair), Prof. Ian Howarth, Dr. Andrew Pontzen, Dr. Amelie Saintonge and Dr. Giorgio Savini. The interview itself will mainly take the form of a discussion regarding the content of your application, as well as your own research interests and experience. You are also, of course, encouraged to ask the panel any questions you may have for us. You will be welcomed on your interview day by a group of Astro graduate students, who will also be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding PhD research, and life in general, at UCL.
We have an 'open office' policy on these days and provide lunch. The idea is to help you meet postgrads and postdocs to learn about life at UCL, as well as to talk to staff about projects. We reimburse reasonable UK travel costs.
Other candidates, including overseas applicants, are normally assessed on the basis of paperwork submitted, with phone follow-up in some cases.
The first offers are likely to be made around mid-March, or shortly afterwards. Offers can, however, be made substantially after this date as they can depend on hearing from other candidates (e.g. when two highly-ranked students express a preference for the same project).
Accepting an offer
Are you worried that you're being required to accept a PhD offer elsewhere before you even get an interview at UCL? Here are the common-sense STFC guidelines on this:
"STFC strongly recommends that prospective students should not be placed under undue pressure by departments to accept PhD places within short timescales. Therefore students should not be compelled to accept offers of PhD places prior to 31 March each year, where this fits in with University procedures. Any prospective student subjected to pressure to accept a PhD place prior to the 31 March deadline is advised to email the Studentships Section (firstname.lastname@example.org)."
The other side of the coin is that, while it's unreasonable for Universities to impose early deadlines on students, it's also unreasonable for students to block studentships which might be offered to other candidates. STFC advice is:
"In the efficient matching of students to available PhD places it is unhelpful if students keep multiple offers open until the 31 March deadline. Students should therefore aim to decide promptly (within two weeks) when they receive more than one offer and reject all but the one most favoured at that point. The rejected studentships can then be offered by Departments to other students without having to wait until the deadline."