Career Opportunities

Jobs in astronomy are competitive! They are heavily oversubscribed for the best positions. Be prepared to apply for many posts before being offered one. Think carefully about your abilities, skills and record, and where you want to live and work and where you don’t. Don’t apply if you have no intention of taking a job, but do not only apply for the optimum post. Ensure you are eligible for the post – e.g. some EU schemes mean that you cannot hold a fellowship in your county of residence, and there may be restrictions on thesis submission or time elapsed since PhD award.

Previous Student Destinations

A compilation of destinations for previous Oxford astrophysics graduate students from ~1990 may be found here. Note that this list is not completely up-to-date and may not be completely accurate.


Generally allow pursuit of your own independent research programme. These tend to be very competitive, and you need to be able to demonstrate independent research ability. A good publication record is important. STFC, ESO, RAS, other individual fellowships (Hubble, Einstein, JWST, Jansky…),Glasstone, RS, RAS, Marie Curie…


Grant-funded to work on an approved research programme but there is usually scope to develop your own aspects and direction.


Fellows, Support Scientists, Instrument scientists (e.g.


  • Labs RAL, ATC, NPL, Scientific Civil service etc
  • Finance
  • IT
  • Teaching
  • Consultancy


Links to graduate job sites

General Advice, Skills etc

You can download a powerpoint file of the talk given by Dr Claire Conway of the careers service here. It contains a number of useful links and references.

Write a cv and resume but tailor to the job that you apply for – search committees are not impressed by generic applications. You have to sell yourself through skills, experience and achievements. To get a post, the first step is to get on the short list and this is achieved through the application and references. But ‘networking’ is also likely to be important in raising your profile: Attendance and speaking at conferences and collaborating with other groups (especially those with vacancies coming up!)

You need to stand out from the crowd. Having studied at Oxford might help, but is certainly not sufficient, and finally you need to be both lucky and tenacious.