Hi everyone, I am thinking of applying for a PhD in Astrophysics to start in October 2012, at the moment I'm still researching different Unis both here and abroad but in doing my research I've seen that for your long term career prospects it doesn't matter so much what Uni you go to, but more who your supervisor is and your group you are part of. I am honestly not sure the best way to go about choosing groups, obviously each dept. website will try and sell itself as best it can, and the RAE is only of limited value since it can't tell us which groups within the departments are good and which are bad it just gives an overview of the department as a whole. I would take a guess and say that the bigger Unis (Oxford, Mancs, Birmingham) will most likely have very active and highly regarded groups but I want to get as complete a picture as possible before starting to apply to places, so this includes the smaller places too. Haha did intend this to be quite a short post but I might as well post some more questions that came to mind when I wrote this too :) - 1) generally how competitive are places for ESPRC funding in astro groups? I am leaning more towards theoretical work instead of computational since I did a lot more theory at undergrad. This is especially important since I didn't do any Astro at undergrad (except I guess particle physics and GR), but I have and still do study it in my spare time. 2) Related to 1) am I at a significant disadvantage to someone coming straight from their masters? I believe I have a strong academic background, I graduated in summer 2010 with a 1st Class Masters, writing my dissertation on Graphene. I also did an IAESTE internship abroad between my 3rd and 4th years. My reason for the gap after graduating was to go travelling which subsequently required getting a job, so hopefully this won't be frowned upon but the gap is a bit of a concern for references.