PhD & Summer Projects

PhD projects

A list of available Astrophysics PhD projects at the University of St Andrews is provided on the website of the School of Physics and Astronomy. Please contact potential supervisors to find out more on whose projects you are interested in. For more information about the research done by the Astronomy Group visit the Research page.

Applications can be submitted online.

We encourage potential UK PhD students to apply before the 1st of February each year, to start in September of that year. International applications will be considered when positions with appropriate funding become available.

Summer projects

Each summer, staff within the department work with a small number of undergraduate students on individual research projects. These projects allow undergraduates to get a taste of the professional research that takes place here in St Andrews, along with developing key skills that will be of use both during and beyond their degree.

We accept students from St Andrews, the UK and internationally. If you’re interested, you will need to secure a project supervisor, and a source of funding. The School of Physics and Astronomy maintains an overview page on vacation placements, and potential sources of funding. Note that one common source of funding is the Royal Astronomical Society, who have a deadline of 15th February. Your prospective supervisor will need to submit an application on your behalf, so make sure you let them know you are interested well ahead of time!

Due to the nature of research, projects evolve and change with time. Therefore, if you are interested in working on a specific topic with a specific member of staff, it is best to contact them directly to see if any projects are available. For an idea of the type of projects on offer here in St Andrews, please see the list below. All email addresses are completed by ‘’

Exoplanet atmospheres  modelling 
Supervisor: Christiane Helling
Please browse here for summer projects within the LEAP group as part of the Centre for Exoplanet Science.

Resolving the Star Formation History of Post-Starburst Galaxies
Supervisor: Vivienne Wild
email: vw8
Various projects available on understanding the formation history of galaxies, either combining high redshift spectroscopy from the VLT with photometry, low redshift integral field data (MaNGA), or  hydrodynamic simulations. Please ask for further details as exact projects will depend on student interest, expertise and group need.

Outflows in compact binaries
Supervisor: Juan Hernandez Santisteban
email: jvhs1
Outflows from compact object systems are ubiquitous. Mostly thought to arise from close to the compact object itself (e.g. jets) these can also occur at larger radii, arising from the disc itself in the form of winds. In accreting white dwarf systems, winds have been shown to be necessary to explain the UV spectra of high-mass transfer rate systems and might influence the optical spectrum as well. These winds are thought to be extended structures above the orbital plane. Therefore, by using eclipsing systems we can put constrains on the size of the emitting region by comparing the in- and out-eclipse spectra. In this project, the student will analyse a new optical dataset on the recently discovered system IPHAS J051814.33+294113.0. The student will learn to calibrate spectroscopic data and perform a radial velocity analysis to disentangle the components to the accretion disc in the system. This project will also involve using scripting languages such as python and the development of custom routines to visualise astronomical data.




University of St Andrews
School of Physics and Astronomy
Astronomy Group

North Haugh
St Andrews
KY16 9SS
Scotland, UK

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