Frequently asked questions

Can I do a masters degree in astrophysics at Oxford?

No. At graduate level we only offer the DPhil research degree (equivalent to Ph.D.) in astrophysics. In addition to the DPhil courses, the Maths and Physics departments jointly offer a taught Masters course in Mathematical and Theoretical Physics, see MMathPhys.

Where can I find an overview of the Astrophysics D.Phil course?

The main University information page may be found at: https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/graduate/courses/dphil-astrophysics. More detailed information on DPhil projects can be accessed from the sidebar on the left.

What research title should I enter on the application form in section C1(iii)?

We don't expect a specific research proposal and title. We suggest you enter "Astrophysics", optionally followed by specification of a general project type, such as "Observation", "Theory" or "Instrumentation".

What should I write in the research proposal section of the application form?

According to our selection criteria, we are looking for people who are able to study astrophysics at a high academic level, and who can provide evidence of interest in astrophysics and motivation to study it. You should certainly describe any research project that you have been involved in (e.g. an undergraduate astrophysics research project) or give any other evidence of your motivation and commitment to studying astrophysics. You should also thoroughly review the information on our web pages, and if you have a specific interest in any area you should describe why. It may help to contact potential supervisors if you are interested in a specific project, but we do not expect you to know precisely in which project area you would like to work. If you are interested in a particular area, you need be no more specific than the general area, for example the areas listed on our entry projects page. You do not need to specify a particular supervisor and project.

Do I need to submit any additional written material?

No, we do not require any additional work. If you do have any relevant work that you have done, such as formal written work from an astrophysics project that you have completed, you may include that in your application if you wish. Please do not send any large or bulky items, however.

How long does the course last?

The normal period is about three and a half years.

Are there taught courses in the D.Phil programme?

The D.Phil programme is a research degree and you normally start working on your main research project as soon as you arrive. But in parallel with that, you will be expected to attend a taught course in astrophysics in the first year, comprising lectures and discussion classes at a graduate study level. Depending on your level of astrophysics knowledge, we may also require you to attend astrophysics lectures in the final-year (masters-level) undergraduate course at Oxford.

My undergraduate degree has been obtained in the U.S., will I be at the right level for starting a research degree?

We have a number of current graduate students who studied at U.S. universities. We look carefully at each individual application and try to assess whether you are suitably qualified to start a research degree. You should apply following our standard procedures, giving as much information as you can, and we will assess your application on its individual merits.

My first language is not English, but I have studied at an English-speaking university. Do I need to provide proof of proficiency in English?

We require you to provide recent proof of competence in spoken and written English, as given in the selection criteria. This is likely to be required by your Oxford college as well as the astrophysics department.
The requirement to provide proof of English language proficiency may be waived, at the discretion of the University, in cases where you have successfully completed, or are currently completing, a full-time degree-level course of a minimum of nine months at a recognised institution where the medium of instruction and assessment is entirely in English. If this is applicable you should include a written test waiver request with the reasons outlined as part of the documentation for your application.

When will I hear the outcome of my application?

Candidates will be shortlisted for interview a few weeks after the January 2021 application deadline, and interviews will be held, probably remotely, in late February and early March 2021. Candidates invited for interview will have an opportunity to talk with potential supervisors about projects in detail.

How can I find out what funding options are available to me.

You will be automatically considered for UKRI funding if you are eligible. For those not from the UK, you will also be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and apply for your course by the relevant January deadline. There are a small number of Scholarships that require a separate application and you can find details of all scholarships available on the link above.

I am an EU student, what are my funding opportunities now.

Following an announcement by the UK Universities Minister on 23 June 2020, EU fee status students starting a course in 2021/22 will no longer be eligible to pay fees at the ‘Home’ rate and will instead be charged the higher ‘Overseas’ rate. This change will not apply to Irish nationals living in the UK or Ireland, who will continue to be charged fees at the ‘Home’ rate for the duration of their course. You can find a statement from the University, along with more details on funding here.

The application asks me for a college preference. How do I choose a college.

Your offer of a place will also come with a college place. You can choose a college preference at the application stage, but do not have to do so. If you have no preference, you can leave that section of the application form blank and you will be automatically assigned one. You can find more details regarding college preferences here.

Will I get a chance to meet supervisors before deciding on a project.

Due to the current circumstances, we expect to carry out interviews next year remotely, however we encourage students who are shortlisted for interview to make contact with supervisors of projects that they are interested in to arrange a discussion. There may also be opportunities to meet other members of the research group, including students. Note that it is likely that most communication will need to take place virtually.