UCL Department of Space and Climate Physics


PhD Opportunities

We offer a range of research degrees, including PhDs in Space Science, Astrophysics, Climate Physics and Systems Engineering at MSSL. We offer a limited number of funded positions each year.

Applications for PhD studentships to start in September 2022 are now open.  Please see below for details. 

The Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL), UCL's Department of Space and Climate Physics, is a world-leading space science laboratory. It offers a unique environment, with scientists at the forefront of space science research working alongside top engineers building and testing instruments for space missions. 

Our PhD students develop skills in public speaking, data analysis techniques, innovation and motivation that make them highly atractive to potential employers. The close contact that the Laboratory enjoys with Space Agencies such as ESA and NASA, and with industrial research teams also encourages the development of transferrable skills such as project management which enhance job prospects post-PhD, both in academic circles and beyond. While over 50% of past MSSL PhD students still work in the field in which they did their PhD studies, many others have found employment in related disciplines.  Please watch Day in the life at MSSL by our alumni, Dr. Sheila Kanani for information about life at MSSL.

The Department of Space and Climate Physics is a Practitioner of Project Juno, which recognises and celebrates good employment practices for gender equality and an equitable working culture.  UCL has a Silver Athena SWAN award from the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU), and a Bronze award under ECU’s new Race Equality Charter for higher education. The Department embeds equality practice at the centre of all that it does making it an excellent place to study. 

Application Process 

For information on the application submission, please visit the UCL Graduate Degrees pages and read the "guidelines for research programmes" carefully. To apply, please visit the Online Application page, select department of "Space & Climate Physics" and programme type of "Postgraduate Research". After pushing "Search Now" button, select "RRDSPSSING01: Research Degree: Space and Climate Physics" for Full-time or Part-time mode. 

Entry requirements

An upper second-class Bachelor’s degree, or a second-class Bachelor’s degree together with a Master's degree from a UK university in a relevant subject, or an equivalent overseas qualification.
English level expected for the students whose first language is not EnglishStandard

Funded Studentships

STFC Studentships (Deadline: 31st January 2022)
Applications from both UK and non-UK students for a Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) studentship remain open until 31st January 2022. The STFC studentship will cover your fee and stipend for the 3.5 years of your research degree study. The number of the STFC studentships available for non-UK students is limited, but the additional support from UCL's International Scholar Award for Doctoral Training (ISAD) will fully cover both the oversea fee and stipend.
After we receive your application, we will assess whether to invite you for an interview. Our selection criteria are academic performance, research potential and motivation for the relevant research project. If you are shortlisted, you will be invited to visit MSSL for an interview or for a remote interview, depending on the circumstances at the time. Interviews will take place on 2nd, 4th, 11th, 15th and 16th March. You will also have the opportunity to talk to your prospective supervisor(s) and the PhD students in the research group you have applied to. The studentships are for the advertised projects only. Please look at the STFC PhD project page. In your application, please specify which project(s) you wish to apply for. You can choose multiple projects, but please clearly list them with the motivation for each project.

UCL GRS/ORS (Deadline 14th January 2022)
UCL Graduate Research Scholarships (GRS) covers tuition fees at the UK rate, and a cost of living allowance at a similar rate to the STFC studentships for 3 years. UCL Overseas Research Scholarships (ORS) provides funding to cover the difference between overseas and UK tuition fees for non-UK students, Students applying for a GRS will automatically be considered for ORS, and there is no need to submit the same applications twice. Competition for these scholarships is very high. We advise only students with a top level academic record to apply.
Note that GRS/ORS awards are allocated across UCL by the Graduate School Selection Panel. While individual departments are invited to submit a shortlist of candidates, we have no formal role in the allocation of awards. 
If you apply for GRS/ORS nomination from our department, please submit your scholarship application (a single pdf file, including Research Scholarship cover sheet, CV, a lay summary and arrange two references using the requested form) via email to Philippa Elwell (p.elwell AT ucl.ac.uk) by 14th January 2022, in addition to submitting a UCL admission application. Please see this page for more information. If you are shortlisted for our nomination, you will be invited for a remote interview. Our interviews will take place during the morning of 24th January 2022.

MAPS faculty Dean's Prize (Deadline: 14 January 2022)
Prospective Chinese students can apply for UCL MAPS faculty Dean's prize for China Scholarship Council (CSC) Research Scholarships. The Dean's prize will cover the full tuition costs, and CSC will cover a maintenance allowance, travel and visa costs. Please submit a short (1 page max) description of the proposed research project (pdf file) and CV (pdf file) via email to Philippa Elwell (p.elwell AT ucl.ac.uk) by 14th January 2022. Please also arrange two references to be sent to Philippa Elwell by the same date. If you are shortlisted for our nomination, you will be invited for a remote interview. Our interviews will be on the morning of 24th January 2022.

Self-funding students

We welcome applications from students who have their own funding.  We accept applications from self-funding students at any time. After we receive your application, you may be invited for a remote interview on an individual basis. Please note that students are still required to meet the academic entry requirements in this case. We strongly encourage applicants to contact their prospective supervisor and discuss the proposed PhD project prior to their application. You can find the list of supervisors here


Holmbury St Mary and surroundings

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. 

Social Activities

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. 

Accomodation (Ariel House)

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. 

Other PhD opportunities in UCL

There are similar PhD projects available in other departments in the UCL, which are sometimese (co-)supervised by our academic staff. Such opportunities are listed below. Please note that you need to submit an application to the other department or Centre for Doctoral Training, if you are also applying for their projects.