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Programs Astrophysics PhD with a 2.1 BSc?

  1. Sep 27, 2010 #1
    Hi, I have a 2.1 in BSc Astronomy and Philosophy and would like to do a PhD in Astrophysics. I am from the UK and my main concern is that the course would be fully funded. Does anyone know if I would be likely to get in/receive funding with only a 2.1 BSc, and if so, where would you recommend I apply?

    Any advice is very much appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 27, 2010 #2
    Interesting combination of subjects! Well, the official EPSRC guidelines for awarding funding stipulate a 2.1 minimum, so you are absolutely eligible for it. I would imagine STFC and other sources are similar in this regard. By the way, I am assuming you intend to do this PhD in the UK. The situation is a little bit different abroad.

    Usually when looking for a PhD in the UK you will apply for an advertised project, rather than proposing one of your own, so funding will already be in place or there will be a possibility of funding attached to the project.

    I think if you are enthusiastic about your subject and find some projects & supervisors you like, you'll stand a fairly good chance of getting a place. At any rate I would definitely recommend you go for it.

    Unfortunately, I can't really comment on where to go, so I will leave this to members more in the know than me!

  4. Sep 27, 2010 #3


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    Which specific area are you interested in studying?
  5. Sep 28, 2010 #4
    Thanks for your reply, this is good to know
  6. Sep 28, 2010 #5
    I do not really mind, it is all interesting, but I do like the projects I've seen regarding exoplanets.
  7. Sep 28, 2010 #6
    Try http://www.jobs.ac.uk. Hmmm... not much there in Astronomy! Financial collapse and savage tory cuts taking effect, I guess. Same as it ever was ... I was a but further on than you are now in the 1980s, although I had a 2(i) and an MSc in astronomy... couldn't get onto a PhD programme in astronomy... it was easy to move sideways though!

    You get adverts for PhDs like "Modelling forces and stresses in gigantic granular systems for coastal engineers... Candidates should have a good mathematical background and a degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate field such as earth science, physics, mathematics, computer science or engineering."

    Note the "appropriate field" - that's to attract astrophysicists with 2(i)s. You seem to be very flexible about what you want to do - just get *more* flexible and you should get onto a PhD programme.
  8. Sep 28, 2010 #7
  9. Sep 28, 2010 #8


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    It's nothing to do with tory cuts or the like: it's September 28th and term started, in most universities, yesterday. PhD positions are advertised from January-April (or so) to start on October 1st. Though, the OP might want to start contacting people in departments in case there are any last minute scholarships, or ones hanging around to start in, say, January.

    However, I'm not sure how successful you're likely to be with a 2:1. Of course, it will all depend upon specific marks in relevant courses taken, reference letters, and research experience, but most people I know in the field have a 1st class degree. It might be worth looking into taking an MSc course this year (which are still likely taking applications).
  10. Sep 28, 2010 #9
    I think you'd have a reasonable chance if you're just looking for anything astrophysics. St Andrews is good for exoplanets, and you could take a look at Glasgow who have a reasonably big astronomy department (mainly solar physics, but their physics department has a large gravitational research group). I'm aware of a good few students at each that were accepted with 2:1 Bsc degrees.

    That said, cristo is spot on - it's really too late to find a position for this year, being that they will start on Friday. I also second the timeline cristo gives. You may find an Msc position (if you're in Scotland, ask SAAS if they will fund any specific Msc degrees you might be interested in, they will fund some.).
  11. Sep 30, 2010 #10
    Thanks for your replies. I was thinking of doing this next year, I know I'm too late for this one! Also, does anyone know if funded PhDs almost always start in Oct or are there some that start at other times during the year? I havent found any in my own research :)
  12. Sep 30, 2010 #11


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    Almost always PhD's start in October, since departments are allocated a certain number for the year-- it makes most sense to have them start at the beginning of the academic year. This can be modified for exceptional candidates, or if there is a studentship left unfilled, but I think these occurrences are rather rare.
  13. Sep 30, 2010 #12
    Hi helenk.

    Yes, it is possible to obtain a funded PhD with a 2:1. Unfortunately, some of the 'top' universities (Oxford, Cambridge, Durham and some others I've forgot) specify that you need either a 4-year MPhys/MSci or a BSc + MSc to apply for PhDs. However, a lot of the lower ranked unis will be happy for you to apply (and remember, a lot of lower ranked unis still have great research going on).

    I was at the STFC summer school for new astronomy PhD students a few weeks ago, and met a few people there with 2:1 BSc's who went directly to a PhD (they were accepted at Edinburgh, Leicester and Central Lancashire in case you're interested!)

    The majority of PhDs start in October (mine starts on Monday!), but at some universities it is possible to start in January. I know this is possible at Durham and St Andrews, but there are sure to be more - you'd have to ask the admissions departments. However, since you'd be offered the place next spring, why not start in October? Get stuck in! :smile:

    P.S if you are looking for somewhere to apply, consider the Open University (which is where I'll be studying). Not many people know they have an actual campus, and do proper reseach, but they do! And the physics department is one of the largest in the country.

    Good luck whatever you decide. :cool:
  14. Oct 1, 2010 #13
    Oh no? Check out:

    Cuts to science funding will 'destroy UK's potential' as world leader

    "Last month physicists also warned that deep cuts would entail the closure of multimillion pound scientific facilities in the UK, which employ thousands of scientists and have only been completed in the past few years. It could also threaten British involvement in Cern, the Geneva-based home of the Large Hadron Collider."

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