PhD Astronomy Doctoral Programme

University of Porto

Application deadline: Applications are received at any time before the start date
Tuition fee:
  • € 2,750 / Year (EEA)
  • € 2,750 / Year (Non-EEA)
Start date: October  2014, October  2015
Credits (ECTS): 180 ECTS
Duration full-time: 36 months
  • English
Delivery mode: On Campus
Educational variant: Part-time, Full-time
Project type: Open
Educational Form: Academic

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The main objective of this 3rd Cycle of Studies in Astronomy, offered by the Physics and Astronomy Department of the Faculty of Sciences, is to train future astronomers and researchers. The Program is open both to high quality Portuguese and foreign students who have completed a 2nd Cycle in Astronomy, Physics, Mathematics or similar fields of science. Students who have completed a 1st Cycle and have a particularly relevant CV may also be accepted in the Program. Furthermore, due to the increasingly technological component of the recent astronomy projects, we also aim at attracting students with a diversified background, namely in technology and engineering, systems and control, or informatics, amongst other areas. Astronomy offers them unique and exciting opportunities for further training.

The Astronomy projects being developed at the European Southern Observatory (ESO), of which Portugal is a member, cover areas almost unexplored by science, such as Interferometry in the infrared with the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) and in the sub-millimeter with the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA). In addition, the current and future missions of the European Space Agency (ESA, of which Portugal is also a member), namely Herschel, Planck, Gaia and James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), will further add to the challenges and visibility of Astronomy.

New domains will be open to observation. In parallel, innovative diagnostic tools and techniques are being integrated, as well as new ways of accessing and operating the facilities. The large telescopes in operation, and the ones under construction or being designed as the European-Extreme Large Telescope (E-ELT), real data collecting machines, require innovative technologies (adaptive optics for example), complex systems and techniques for the data handling, processing and analysis as well as new attitudes in the way astronomers access their own data. Further to that the use of the "Virtual Observatories" building upon various data banks and data bases, which include data from ground and space observations, also add new dimensions and opportunities.

Consequently, the role of Astronomy as a privileged area for multidisciplinary training, across various fields of science and technology, shines out clearly. The adequate training of the future astronomers and researchers, from a wide range of backgrounds, becomes even more challenging in order to fully prepare them in those new wide fields. Further to that, it is mandatory to expose and involve those young researchers, right from the beginning of their training, to international collaboration and participation in multinational and multidisciplinary teams.


The Doctoral Programme in Astronomy offered at the University of Porto since 2004-2005 is structured with the ambition of providing research competences in one of the most vibrant areas of science. It includes:

1. Doctoral Course,

2. Research Component leading to the thesis.

The working language is English.


1. Doctoral Course (30 ECTS)

The Doctoral Course takes place during the first year and comprises a demanding programme of curricular units covering the main scientific topics and technologies in space sciences and technology:

- Selection of courses, for a total fo 30 ECTS, from a list including:

* AST611 - Advanced Topics on Stars and Planets (6 ECTS)
* AST612 - Advanced Topics on Galaxies and Cosmology (6 ECTS)
* AST613 - Topics on Methods and Modeling in Astronomy (6 ECTS)
* AST614 - Topics on Observation and Instrumentation for Astronomy (6 ECTS)
* AST615 - Development of Research Skills (6 ECTS)
* AST616 - Research Seminar in Astronomy (18 ECTS)
* AST617 - Complementary Training (6 to 12 ECTS)


2. Research Component (150 ECTS)

The students completing the Doctoral Course successfully will move into supervised research. This will start with the preparation of the proposed plan of research, including an analysis of the state of the art, scientific foundations and methodology, as well as the identification of the main prospective objectives for their project. This work takes place during the remaining six months of the first year and includes a public presentation by the student before the end of the first academic year (written report and oral presentation).

A positive evaluation will allow the student to register in the second year (definitive register, since in the first year a student is always registered on a provisory basis) and proceed with the research project. The DPA offers the students the opportunity to choose from a large diversity of projects, based on proposals received through a yearly international call. The projects are carried out involving a very wide range of collaborations. The submission and approval of an original thesis evaluated by an international jury concludes the Doctoral Programme in Astronomy.

This component incldues the following curricular units:

* AST631 - Thesis Project in Astronomy (30 ECTS)
* AST731 - Thesis in Astronomy (111 ECTS)
* AST732 - Supervised Practice of Research and Teaching (9 ECTS)


- Candidates should have completed a 2nd Cycle of Studies in Astronomy, Physics, Mathematics, Technology, Engineering, Systems & Control or similar fields.

- Candidates with a specially relevant academic or scientific curriculum who have completed a 1st Cycle of Studies in one of those same areas may also be considered.

- Applications by candidates who are about to conclude the aforementioned degrees will be assessed conditionally to successful completion of their studies prior to the start of the Doctoral Course

Work Experience

At least 4 year(s) of work experience are required.

Previous research experience is relevant for teh selection fo prospective candidates.


PhD grants are offered by the Ministry of Science and Technology through Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (the national research council). Applications are open annually. Gulbenkian Foundation (private foundation) also offers some PhD grants. PhD grants may also be offered by Advisors or Host Institutions within specific research projects, including for example the Centro de Astrofísica da Universidade do Porto (CAUP).

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