Physics and Astronomy PhD

Physics and Astronomy PhD

We are one of the largest Physics departments in the country with a high profile for research, both in the UK and internationally. We have a long tradition of distinguished research originating from the time of John Henry Poynting, the first Professor of Physics at Birmingham, whose work included the theory of the transfer of electromagnetic energy.

The School of Physics and Astronomy’s performance in the Research Excellence Framework (REF), the system for assessing the quality of research in the UK higher education institutions, has highlighted that 90% of research outputs in the School were rated as world-leading or internationally excellent.

The Physics and Astronomy PhD is available with the following specialisms: Astrophysics and Space Research; Condensed Matter Physics; Metamaterials; Molecular Physics; Nanoscale Physics; Nuclear Physics; Particle Physics; Positron Imaging; Solar and Stellar Physics; Theoretical Physics; and Ultra Cold Atoms.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Doctoral research

Study Options: Full time

Duration: PhD: 3.5 years full-time; MSc by research: 1 year full-time

Start date: Contact the School directly for further information.


Our research covers a wide range of topics offering exciting challenges at the leading edge of physics and astronomy. Our students enter careers across a wide spectrum of education and industry, and past students occupy many senior positions in science.

Our annual research income is over £7 million and we produce approximately 250 research publications each year.

Specialist research areas available in the School of Physics and Astronomy:

Related links

School of Physics and Astronomy

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply.
Learn more about fees and funding

Scholarships and studentships
We have a number of studentships supported by the UK research councils EPSRC and STFC available each year, including some CASE awards. These studentships cover the costs of tuition fees and provide a subsistence allowance for 3.5 years. They are available to UK nationals with at least an upper second-class Honours degree from a UK university, or equivalent. Preference is usually given to those holding four-year MPhys or MSci degrees.

We offer about half a dozen postgraduate teaching assistantships each year as top-ups to EPSRC and STFC studentships. There are also substantial opportunities for postgraduate demonstrators. EU nationals may be eligible for fees-only awards, which are occasionally supplemented by the School. Scholarships may be available, for more information contact the School directly or email

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

Entry requirements

Learn more about entry requirements

International students
We accept a range of qualifications from different countries – learn more about international entry requirements.

Standard English language requirements apply.

How to apply

Learn more about applying.

Enquiries for additional details on research should be addressed directly to the heads of the research groups, with copies to the Head of School at

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Research interests of staff

We have over 100 academic and research staff and over 100 graduate students, with around 45 technical and clerical support staff. Our students work in research groups, typically of ten to 50 people, with a high level of academic and technical support. Staff profiles and research interests can be viewed here.

Specialist research areas available in the School of Physics and Astronomy:

Each doctoral researcher is based in a group and plays a full part, together with academic, research and technical staff, in the activities of the group. All research groups hold regular seminars with many distinguished external speakers. Almost all our research activity involves national or international collaboration, often with industrial partners. The School also hosts conferences and meetings on various research topics, bringing in leading scientists from around the world.

Find a PhD


Dr Zoe Chater talks about her time at Birmingham

University Careers Network

Preparation for your career should be one of the first things you think about as you start university. Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal.

Our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. Our team source exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoring, global internships and placements available to you. Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CVs and job applications will help give you the edge.

If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

In the current economic climate where there are many applicants per job, a PhD puts you ahead of the crowd, as it is a clear statement of being hard working and applying oneself to something difficult and original.’
Dan Reed, Doctoral Researcher in Physics and Astronomy, now Investment Analyst at Mercer Investment Consulting