My current PhD students are Phil Short,who is working on Tidal Disruption Events (TDEs), and Harry Rendell-Bhatti, who is working on extreme variability in active galaxies, and how to forecast outbursts. Together with Bob Mann, I also co-supervise Amanda Ibsen, who is developing machine learning techniques for rapid classification of transients.

PhD opportunities

We generally have about 6 PhD places each year funded by STFC, by SUPA, and occasionally from other sources. General information about our PhD application process is available here. As well as the regular Astronomy programme, we run ScotDIST, which is a Centre for Doctoral Training in Data Intensive Science, together with particle physics and nuclear physics colleagues in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and St Andrews. This offers a 4 year programme with extra training courses in Data Science, and a six month placement in industry. There may be new Astronomy places on this programme for 2020. This is still being decided, but do an express an interest in ScotDIST if you like that idea.

Shopping for projects

We offer a series of possible projects, in which PhD candidates can express interest. The offered projects for 2020 entry can be found here. I am offering a project on extreme quasar variability, which could be run with a data science flavour.

In the recent past, I have run projects involving nuclear transients and tidal disruption events, faint radio sources and the evolution of black holes, and nuclear structures and gas flow in AGN, but for now I am concentrating on extreme variability.


Edinburgh is part of SUPA, the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance. This enables us to run shared courses using video classrooms with other Physics Departments across Scotland, as well as a variety of other interesting events. In the past, SUPA has offered additional fully-funded PhD places, but these are not currently on offer.

List of PhD students

Harry Rendell Bhatti
Amanda Ibsen
Phil Short
David Homan
Alastair Bruce
Jack Mayo
Jess Skelton
Emma Taylor
Olivia Johnson
James Manners
Rachel Johnson
Paulina Lira
Dimitra Rigopoulou
Iossif Papadakis