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UCL Department of Space and Climate Physics

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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 2021 are open until filled.  Please see below for details. 

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

Our PhD students develop skills in public speaking, analytical 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 the 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. 

Application Process 

For the 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

UK students 

STFC Studentships
Applications from UK students for a Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) studentship remain open until they are filled. The STFC studentship will cover your fee and stipend for 3.5 years of your research degree study. 
After we receive your application, we will assess if we invite you for an interview. Our selection criteria are academic performance, research potential and motivation to the relevant research project. If you are shortlisted, you will be invited for a remote interview. You will also have the opportunity to talk to your prospective supervisor(s) and the PhD students in their 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.

Other scholarship opportunity (departmental nomination) (These are now closed.)
UK students may be eligible to apply for the following scholarships. These scholarships require a nomination from the department, and we will support promising applicants for these fellowships. If you want to be considered as our nominee for these scholarships, please submit your application, and notify our senior administrator, Philippa Elwell (p.elwell AT ucl.ac.uk) by 13th January 2021. Please check the link below to confirm your eligibility and the criteria. You must contact your prospective supervisor and decide upon your project before you apply.

Please contact the department (your potential supervisor and/or departmental graduate tutor, Daisuke Kawata) as soon as possible, if you want to apply for these scholarships, so that we can provide advice in a timely fashion. We look forward to hearing from you.

Non-UK students

Applications from non-UK students are now closed. Below we show the closed recruitment process for the prospective applicants. The applications will be open around November 2021. 

Applications from non-UK students will be considered for the scholarship opportunities below, depending on their eligibility. Some of these scholarships require the additional application documents, and so please carefully check the guidelines of the application. Please note that these are all highly competitive scholarship. All the applicants must contact their prospective supervisor and discuss the potential projects before they apply.

After we receive your application, we will select candidates for interviews.  Our selection criteria are academic performance, research potential and motivation to the relevant research project. If you are shortlisted, you will be invited for a remote interview.

Please contact the department (your potential supervisor and/or departmental graduate tutor, Daisuke Kawata) as soon as possible, if you want to apply for the scholarships above, so that we can provide advice in a timely fashion. We look forward to hearing from you.

UCL GRS/ORS (Closed)
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. UCL Overseas Research Scholarships (ORS) provides funding to cover the difference between overseas and UK tuition fees, Students applying for a GRS will automatically be considered for ORS, and there is no need to submit the same applications twice. There are more ORS awards than GRS awards. Competition for these is very high. 
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 13th January 2021, in addition to submitting a UCL admission application. Please see this page for more information.

MAPS faculty Dean's Prize (Closed)
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 13th January 2021. Please also arrange two references to be sent to Philippa Elwell by the same date.

STFC studentships (closed)
Non-UK applicants may be considered for the STFC studentships, if the applicant can pay the fee difference between the overseas and UK fees.  Please note that the STFC studentships are for the advertised projects only. If you wish to be considered for the STFC studentships, please look at the STFC PhD Project page, and discuss with your prospective supervisor(s) before you apply.  In your application, please specify which project(s) you want to apply for. You can choose multiple projects, but please clearly list them with the motivation for each project. Non-UK applicants applying for STFC studentships are required to find a way to pay the fee difference between the overseas and UK fees. 

Self-funding students

We welcome applications from students who have their own-funding.  We accept the 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 the applicants to contact their prospective supervisor and discuss the proposed PhD project prior to their application. You can find the list of supervisors here

Facilities

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.