Physics and Astronomy PhD (Solar and Stellar Physics specialism)

Postgraduate doctoral research degree in Physics and Astronomy PhD (Solar and Stellar Physics specialism):

We are international leaders in the fields of helioseismology and asteroseismology, the study of the interior of the Sun and stars by observation of their natural modes of oscillation.
The group has three permanent academics, with observational, data analysis and theoretical expertise.

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


The main focus of our asteroseismology programme is the NASA Kepler mission, which was launched in 2009. Kepler is searching for Earths around other stars, and observations of oscillations in many hundreds of solar-type stars are a key part of the programme. We lead the international consortium of over 170 scientists that is studying solar-type stars (including coordination of joint projects with the Kepler exoplanet programme), and we also have leading roles in the teams responsible for the study of red giants. In addition to Kepler, we are also actively engaged in international collaborations making use of data from other satellites (e.g., the French-led CoRoT) and ground-based telescopes (e.g., KECK).

Our solar studies are allowing crucial inferences to be drawn regarding solar and stellar evolution theory, with direct implications for fields such as fundamental particle physics and cosmology. We are providing insight into the origin and nature of the solar activity cycle (and the recent, unusual behaviour of the Sun), and the link between the deep solar interior and surface, with knock-on implications for understanding solar input to global climate change and solar-terrestrial relations.
The solar work involves use of all the world-leading datasets, such as our own BiSON network data, and data from the NASA SDO and ESA/NASA SoHo satellites and the US-run GONG network.

Related links:

School of Physics and Astronomy

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply
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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

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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

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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

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Admissions Tutor: Professor Yvonne Elsworth

Contact us online or at +44 (0)121 414 4597.

Related news and events

Research interests of staff

The School of Physics and Astronomy was placed among the leading research institutions in the latest (2008) Research Assessment Exercise.

Our research portfolio is wide-ranging, and covers three principal themes: Particle and Nuclear Physics; Quantum Matter and Nanoscale Science; and Astronomy. We have over 120 academic and research staff together with 120 graduate students with around 50 technical and clerical support staff. Our annual research income is over £8 million and more than 250 research publications are produced each year.

Visit the website for the Solar and Stellar Physics research group for further information.

Related research


Admissions Tutor: Professor Yvonne Elsworth

Contact us online or at +44 (0)121 414 4597.


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.

Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) 2011/12 (postgraduate taught graduates)

The DLHE survey is conducted 6 months after graduation.

Examples of employers

  • Siemens
  • Rolls Royce PLC
  • Optical Performance Centre
  • KPMG
  • Microsoft Ltd
  • King Edwards Consortium
  • J.Sainsburys PLC
  • Mondrago Investigations Limited
  • Self employed
  • NHS

Examples of occupations

  • Software Engineer
  • Trainee Clinical Scientist
  • Technology Graduate
  • Secondary School Teacher - Physics
  • Research Analyst
  • Nuclear Manufacturing Engineer Intern
  • Musician
  • Recruitment Consultant
  • Internet Application Engineer
  • Data Analyst

Further study - examples of courses

  • MSc Astrophysics
  • MSc Computer Science
  • MSc Forensic Ballistics
  • MSc Medical Imagery
  • MSc Nuclear Physics
  • MSc Physics and Technology
  • MRes Chemical Engineering
  • PhD Electronic Engineering
  • PhD Physical Sciences

Visit the Careers section of the University website for further information.


Admissions Tutor: Professor Yvonne Elsworth

Contact us online or at +44 (0)121 414 4597.