DPhil Projects in Planetary and Exoplanetary Physics

University of Oxford

PhD 3.5 years Oxford, UK

Uploaded 2 Oct 2019

Job Description

Oxford’s Planetary Physics group specialises in the exploration of planetary atmospheres and surfaces, with expertise ranging from hardware development to spectral analysis; ground-based astronomy to spacecraft operations; and numerical simulations of planetary climate to laboratory experiments of geophysical fluid dynamics. Our interests extend from the environments found in our own Solar System to the extreme conditions found in Extrasolar Planets and Brown Dwarfs. An overview of our research can be found on the Planetary Science page, and an overview of exoplanet research at Oxford can be found on the Oxford Exoplanet page.

Several projects are available within the group in the coming year. They typically involve the measurement and modelling of visible and infrared spectra of planetary objects, using these data to understand and model their environmental conditions (atmospheric dynamics, composition and clouds; thermophysical properties and compositions of surfaces). Next year we shall be looking for students in the following areas:

  • The transit spectra of exoplanets
  • Characterising the thermal alteration history of carbonaceous meteorites to help interpret data from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission
  • Re-constructing Primitive Meteoritic Materials in the Laboratory to support remote sensing of asteroids and comets
  • Ground and space-based telescope observations of the Ice Giants (Uranus and Neptune)
  • Spectroscopic monitoring of Jupiter’s atmospheric dynamics and chemistry to support planetary missions
  • Dynamical modelling of storms and eddies in the atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn
  • Modelling the circulation of slowly rotating planets, such as Venus and Titan
  • Climate modelling of terrestrial planets fluid or rocky super-Earths
  • European Research Council project EXOCONDENSE, on effect of condensable atmospheric constituents on climate dynamics of exoplanet atmospheres.

Person Specification

As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications:

  • a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in physics, mathematics or related subjects. The equivalent of a UK four-year integrated MPhys or MSci degree is typically required. Bachelor's degrees with a minimum four years' standard duration may satisfy the entry requirements.

Entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent.  In exceptional cases, the requirement for a first-class or strong upper-second class undergraduate degree with honours can be alternatively demonstrated by a graduate master’s degree or substantial directly-related professional or research experience.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the typical minimum GPA sought is 3.3 out of 4.0. However, selection of candidates also depends on other factors in your application and most successful applicants have achieved higher GPA scores.

If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.

It is helpful to include details of any of the following applicable attributes, which may strengthen your application:

  • Details of any publications. Many candidates with no peer-reviewed publications receive offers each year.
  • Research or professional experience in areas aligned with the proposed supervisors' research interests.
  • Depending on the project, evidence of training in scientific computer programming or related numerical techniques.
  • Previous experience in a scientific or technical research environment.