University of Exeter funding: Modelling the atmospheres of terres

Modelling the atmospheres of terrestrial exoplanets – PhD (Funded by STFC) Ref: 3812

About the award


Dr Hugo Lambert, University of Exeter
Dr Eric Hebrard, University of Exeter


Mathematics and Physics, Streatham Campus, Exeter

The University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in September 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter.  For eligible students the studentship will cover UK/EU tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £15,009 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study.  The student would be based in the Departments of Mathematics and Physics in the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences at the Streatham Campus in Exeter.

Project Description:
Known as exoplanets, more than 4000 worlds are now known to orbit starts other than our Sun. Some of these are small, possibly rocky “terrestrial” planets that have the potential to host liquid water and could therefore permit the evolution of life. Next-generation observing systems such as the James Webb Space Telescope and the European Extremely Large Telescope will soon return observations that will allow characterisation of the basic physical features of these planets. The Exeter Exoplanet Theory Group (EETG) under the direction of Professor Nathan Mayne is engaged in theoretical and modelling studies to develop expectations of the nature of the atmospheres and climates of exoplanets and to help us to understand new telescope observations once they become available.

This studentship, supervised by Dr Hugo Lambert and Dr Eric Hebrard, will examine interactions between atmospheric physics and chemistry and how these affect planetary climate. We are particularly interested in the behaviour of water on drier planets and how this interacts with the warm and cold region climates of a given planet. On “tidally-locked” planets, which always show one face to their host star, the warm region is in perpetual starlight and the cold region is in perpetual night. Differences between the two regions are large and different mechanisms govern the fate of water. However, the research project is open ended and will depend on the interests of the successful candidate. The project will use the Unified Model, which is the fully-interactive 3D model of the UK Met Office used to make weather and climate predictions for Earth (and which has been adapted to exoplanets by the EETG and embedded Met Office experts). 

The studentship will be awarded on the basis of merit for 3.5 years of full-time study to commence in September 2020.

The studentship will cover a stipend at the minimum Research Council rate, £15,009 in 2019/20, research costs and tuition fees at the UK/EU rate for students who meet the residency requirements outlined by the STFC.  Students from EU countries who do not meet the residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award but no stipend.  Applicants who are classed as International for tuition fee purposes are not eligible for funding.  Further information about eligibility can be found here.

Entry requirements

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in Physics, Astronomy, Meteorology, Mathematics or a related discipline. The successful candidate will have strong mathematical and computational skills. 

If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.0 in IELTS and no less than 6.0 in any section by the start of the project.  Alternative tests may be acceptable (see

How to apply

In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents. 
• CV
• Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the project).
• Two references from referees familiar with your academic work. If your referees prefer, they can email the reference direct to quoting the studentship reference number.
• If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English.

The closing date for applications is midnight on Monday 27th January 2020.  Interviews will be held on the University of Exeter Campus the week commencing [date to be confirmed]

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email or phone +44 (0)1392 722730 or +44 (0)1392 725150.  For more information about the project, please contact Hugo Lambert or Eric Hébrard


Application deadline:27th January 2020
Value:£15,009 per year for 3.5 years
Duration of award:per year
Contact: STEMM PGR Admissions +44 (0)1392 722730 / 5150