PhD student Eric Saboya gives an overview of what life is like studying in the Space and Atmospheric Physics group.

Each year we offer a number of opportunities to study for a PhD under the supervision of academic staff in our group. Research topics include space and planetary physics, atmospheric physics and climate science, and laboratory astrophysics.

Projects on offer: Please click on the tabs below to find out about the opportunities that are available in each of our different research areas.

Open day: Space and atmospheric physics will hold an open day to meet potential supervisors and discuss projects at 12pm on Friday the 8th of December 2023 in Blackett 1004. For further details about the open day, please contact:

How to apply

Get started by registering an account in My Imperial and follow these steps:

  • Make sure you meet the entry requirements
  • Take note of any deadlines
  • Upload all supporting documents
  • Check your application status
  • Submit your offer conditions

Once you have submitted your application online, please save the full application in pdf format and send a copy to the SPAT Group Administration at

Available projects

Atmospheric Physics

The Atmospheric Physics PhD projects will be part of the Science and Solutions for a Changing Planet DTP together with the Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment.

Note that the deadline for all projects is midday (12pm GMT) on Monday the 8th of January 2024, but you are encouraged to contact potential supervisors in advance of this deadline (emails can be found on the project advert). The supervisors can often provide further advice and information about the project. You should also speak to the supervisor if you would like to suggest a slightly different project. 

Further details (including eligibility) about the DTP application process is available on the DTP Studentship opportunities webpage.

Project Title

Lead Supervisor
2024_58_Physics_RT.pdf A New Global Tropical Cyclone Model Professor Ralf Toumi
2024_59_Physics_HB.pdf Capturing the spectral fingerprints of errors in weather and climate models Professor Helen Brindley
2024_60_Physics_PC.pdf Relating future jet stream changes to present-day observable variability Dr Paulo Ceppi
2024_61_Physics_PC.pdf Why does climate sensitivity depend on the type of forcing? Dr Paulo Ceppi
2024_68_RAL_RS.pdf Use of Satellite Observations to identify and attribute Decadal Climate Change Dr Richard Siddans (Rutherford Appleton Laboratory)/ Prof Helen Brindley*
Observing aerosol-cloud interactions in a changing Arctic Dr Edward Gryspeerdt (Department of Physics and Grantham Institute)




Space Physics

The following space physics projects are currently available for entry in October 2024 (with further details attached):

  1. Exploring the diversity of solar wind-cometary interaction (Prof. Marina Galand)
  2. Formation and evolution of the solar wind (Prof. Tim Horbury)
  3. Electromagnetic Sounding of Ocean Worlds (Prof. Michele Dougherty)
  4. Development of a Uranus Upper Atmosphere Model (Prof. Mueller-Wodarg)
  5. Probabilistic Joint Inversion of Geophysical and Physicochemical Data from Iceland (Dr. Fiona Simpson)
    1. This project is funded via the Grantham SSCP DTP - Deadline 12:00 8th January

These projects are expected to be funded by STFC studentships (unless otherwise noted). For specific eligibility questions, please contact the supervisor or the SPAT admissions coordinator. Applications will be considered as they are submitted, with the expectation that any offers will be made by spring 2024. Early application is recommended.

Please inform the lead supervisor of the project you are applying to when you submit your online application form.

Laboratory Astrophysics

These projects are for entry in 2023 and have now been filled. Please check back soon for projects for 2024 entry.

The following laboratory astrophysics project is currently available for entry in October 2023:

  1. Spectroscopy of astrophysically important elements and applications to astrophysics.

This project is expected to be funded by STFC studentships. For specific eligibility questions, please contact the supervisor or the SPAT admissions coordinator. Applications will be considered as they are submitted, with the expectation that any offers will be made by spring 2023. Early application is recommended.

1. Laboratory Astrophysics: Spectroscopy of astrophysically important elements and applications to astrophysics.

Supervisor: Prof. Juliet Pickering (

2023 Pickering LabAstro

Research areas: atomic physics, spectroscopy, astrophysics and atmospheric physics

Background: The spectra of planetary atmospheres and stars are usually extremely complex: all the elements of the periodic table may contribute, as molecules or atoms in more than one stage of ionisation, blends of several lines are the rule rather than the exception. New high resolution spectrographs on ground- and space based telescopes give exciting spectra of stars and planetary atmospheres, but the laboratory atomic data and atomic physics (atomic energy levels, wavelengths etc) that are vital for the interpretation of the astrophysical spectra, are often too inaccurate and incomplete. Vast improvements are needed in many cases in knowledge and understanding of atomic spectra.

The Space & Atmospheric Physics group’s Spectroscopy Laboratory has a Fourier Transform spectrometer which is unique - holding the short wavelength record for an instrument of its kind, and with its very high resolution and broad spectral range is ideal for studies of astrophysically important atoms and ions in the visible to ultra violet spectral range. Once an atomic spectrum has been recorded in the laboratory, an analysis of the spectrum is carried out to yield new atomic parameters over a broad spectral range (infra red through to ultraviolet) at unprecedented accuracy. This brings new understanding of the atomic physics. We collaborate internationally on applications of the new atomic data. Examples include our work on the Gaia-ESO survey of 100,000s Galactic stars to understand Galactic evolution.

Research Objectives: An STFC funded Ph.D. project is available to investigate astrophysically important atomic spectra using high resolution spectroscopy. Spectra to be studied will be carefully selected to be most relevant and urgently needed for astrophysics applications. The initial stage of the project is experimental in nature with spectra being studied in the UV and visible spectral region at Imperial College, and in the infra-red possibly at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (USA) or in Lund University (Sweden), with whom we regularly collaborate. The student would then undertake a full analysis of the spectra. We anticipate collaboration with theoretical atomic physics groups during this analysis stage. The new atomic data will then be applied in particular astrophysical spectral analyses through collaboration with astronomers. Examples of our recent research include working with teams investigating topics as diverse as Galactic evolution, time variation of the Fundamental constants, and understanding neutron star mergers.

You will gain: experimental expertise in a world-class laboratory, using unique instruments; experience undertaking experiments in laboratories abroad; learn about atomic physics; skills in theoretical analysis of spectra learning computational and analytical skills; experience working on applications of the new atomic data to analyses of particular astrophysical spectra.

The Student: The strongest candidates will have a first class degree in physics or astrophysics. This PhD suits a student who enjoys a combination of computational, analytical and experimental work.

Please inform Prof Juliet Pickering ( when you submit your online application form.

President's PhD Scholarship

The President's PhD Scholarship offers full tuition fees and a generous stipend for a PhD place at Imperial College London. Up to 50 students across the College are funded each year, with no restriction on nationality. However, it should be emphasised that this is an extremely competitive award, which is reserved for candidates of exceptional academic achievement, as well as demonstrated commitment to research. The Space and Atmospheric Physics group is proud to have hosted several President's PhD Scholars in recent years.

Successful candidates are typically one of the top students in their graduating cohort, have experience of research, and often have authored or co-authored peer-reviewed journal articles as an undergraduate. 

The first step in the process is to make contact with a prospective supervisor. We are very happy to support competitive applications - if you are interested in working with a particular academic, please contact them directly, details are here. If one of the projects listed on this page is of particular interest, please do let us know.

The group is limted in the number of candidates that it can support. We therefore encourage you to make early contact with prospective supervisors.


We welcome applicants for visiting PhD students on the China Scholarship Council (CSC) scholarship. Any research topic of your choice related to tropical cyclones will be considered. You will be joining the largest tropical cyclone research team in Europe, gaining unique experience of studying at Imperial and living in London. Other benefits are: 

An extra allowance on top of the CSC stipend  
Expenses to attend an international conference during your stay to present your research of this scholarship  
No bench fee
We also welcome applications from tropical cyclone research staff on a topic of their choice applying for CSC visiting positions.

Please send your CV to Professor Ralf Toumi: