Astrophysics Group

Cavendish Laboratory

Admissions Procedures

Graduate Admissions Procedures for October 2016 entry

There are four steps you must take if you wish to apply for graduate study in the Astrophysics Group at the Cavendish:

  1. Consideration of the research areas/topics on offer to establish if they are likely to be of interest to you.
  2. The submission of a formal application to the Board of Graduate Studies for admission as a graduate student in the University of Cambridge in Physics. You may apply in one of two ways, by paper application or online (for which charges are made). Further details can be found at the Board of Graduate Studies “Prospective Graduate Students” page.You should note that the course code for a PhD in the Astrophysics group is PCPH22. This should not be confused with the code associated with a PhD at the Institute of Astronomy. If you mistakenly apply to the IoA there may be a significant delay in your application being forwarded to us.
  3. Submission of our own internal Astrophysics Group application form.
  4. Attendance at interview (for selected UK candidates).

Each of these is explained in more detail below.

For a detailed list of deadlines and useful events, please see our Admissions timetable .

Available Project Areas

Each year the Group defines a number of research areas/topics suitable for PhD and MPhil projects, some technical, some observational and some theoretical, in the various areas of research we cover. These are agreed upon in mid-December, and information on each will subsequently be available on our web site on our graduate research page.

To find out more about these you may wish to arrange a visit to the Astrophysics Group. This will give you a chance to hear more about the projects on offer, talk to supervisors and students, and generally get a feel of the Group and the research going on here. All interested students are encouraged to arrange a visit since it is the best way to find out about us!

If you wish to arrange a visit, please contact us at to arrange a mutually convenient date and be given appropriate instructions/directions.

Application forms

If you are interested in applying to us you will need to (1) complete and submit a formal application to the University of Cambridge and (2) complete and submit the Astrophysics Group application form to us.

  • The University application can be made in one of two ways, by paper application or online (for which charges are made). Further details can be found at the Board of Graduate Studies “How to Apply” page. Your application must be completed and submitted to the Board of Graduate Studies as soon as possible; students who are applying for admission in October 2016 should make sure it arrives sufficiently early that we can assess it at the same time as we receive our internal Astrophysics Group application form (i.e. by March 2016, see below). The closing dates for overseas applicants hoping to apply for funding through the University can found on the Board of Graduate Studies web site at their Application and Funding Deadlines page, but broadly speaking these applications will be due by December 2015. Please note that you will be asked to send testimonials provided by two academic referees with your completed form.If you need any assistance in procuring or completing the form, please feel free to contact the Graduate Admissions Office at the Department of Physics. The point of contact there is the Graduate Admissions Secretary (Alison Dann) who can be contacted at (44)-(0)1223-337420, or by email at
  • The internal Astrophysics Group application form is a downloadable text form (click here for details) that needs to be completed and returned to us by post as soon as possible so that we can start processing your application immediately. The deadline for receipt of this application form is Monday 22 February 2016. Please note that amongst other things you will need to provide the names, addresses and e-mail details of the same two academic referees as you will be using for your BOGS application. Applicants from outside Cambridge are also required to send photocopies of the transcripts of their degree results that they will have sent with their GAF form to the Board of Graduate Studies. Although our form asks you to specify which particular project areas you are interested in working in, your preferences are not binding at this stage.


Selected UK candidates will be asked to come for an interview day during the period 25 February – 11 March 2015. During the day you will have a formal interview lasting for about half an hour in which you will be asked about your undergraduate courses, any experience of astrophysics, perhaps through coursework or other activities, and your specific interests in pursuing graduate research in our group. Although the interview is a core part of the admissions process, it does not take the form of a technical question and answer session. You are not expected to give a presentation, and you do not need to bring project reports/experimental write-ups etc. with you.

The rest of your visit will be used to meet with the staff members, post-docs and current research students involved in the research areas in which you think you may be interested. This allows you to learn more about the individual research areas/topics, and you should allocate at least a few hours for this. At the end of this exercise, we will ask you to submit a prioritised list of research areas/topics which you are interested in being considered for.

Please note that UK-based students attending interviews will be reimbursed for their reasonable travel expenses.

If you are an overseas student you may be invited to be interviewed by Skype or telephone. Any offer of a place will of course be dependent upon your obtaining the necessary funding.