Apply for the 2024 MSc & PhD Bursaries at the University of Western Cape


The Centre for Radio Cosmology (CRC) at the University of Western Cape (UWC), internationally recognised for its research in cosmology and galaxy evolution with MeerKAT, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and other telescopes, is offering  MSc and PhD bursaries for 2024. 

Furthermore, the team of CRC staff – Dr Ed Elson, Prof Lerothodi Leeuw, Dr Michelle Lochner, Prof Roy Maartens, Prof Mario Santos, and Prof Russ Taylor – will supervise successful applicants on cutting-edge projects described briefly below. In addition, the available topics will cover the key science goals of the SKA in cosmology and galaxy evolution closely linked to the science goals of the upcoming optical/infrared surveys, such as the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI), the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) and Euclid. 

Similarly, students might be co-supervised by visiting professors Romeel Davé and Alkistis Pourtsidou (University of Edinburgh), Andrew Baker (Rutgers University), Matt Jarvis (Oxford University), Chris Clarkson (Queen Mary University of London), Stefano Camera (University of Turin), Phil Bull (University of Manchester) and Jingying Wang (Shanghai AO), with the opportunity to spend time in institutions abroad (depending on travel restrictions). 

Bursary Values

The 2024 levels for the total cost of study are:

  • MSc: two years at USD 10,257 (ZAR 189,158) per year + travel grant up to USD 1,843 (ZAR 34,000/year) + equipment grant up to USD 1,735 (ZAR 32,000) for two  years; and
  • PhD: Three years at USD 10,637 (ZAR 196,196) per year + travel grant up to USD 2,223 (ZAR 41,000/year) + equipment grant up to USD 2,494 (ZAR 46,000) for three years.
Bursary conditions

Scholarships are granted year-by-year – i.e. continuing into the next year depending on satisfactory progress.

Research Topics

Each topic below focuses on the South African-based radio arrays MeerKAT, SKA, HERA ( and HIRAX ( Some topics also look at the synergy of radio surveys with optical/ infrared galaxy surveys such as LSST, DESI and Euclid. Furthermore, the CRC staff team will organise cutting-edge theory, computation, simulations, and data science training for successful candidates.

  • Measuring Neutral Hydrogen (HI) across Cosmic Time with MeerKAT

This involves using MeerKAT observations to detect neutral hydrogen intensity statistically on cosmological scales. There are several projects, from more technical data analysis to signal simulations. These include the measurement of the power spectrum and detecting the elusive Baryon Acoustic Oscillations (BAO) that constrain dark matter and energy. The data analysis techniques use state-of-the-art statistical methods, including machine learning algorithms.

  •  Unveiling the Properties of HI Galaxies

Using existing multi-wavelength observations and upcoming MeerKAT data, we will investigate the properties of HI in galaxies, giving new information on such systems’ HI and dark matter content. In addition, projects may be focused on the dynamical modelling of galaxies, the statistical study of galaxies lying below the detection threshold, and methods of automated source finding using HI data cubes.

  • Probing the First Galaxies in the Universe

This involves investigating the Epoch of Reionization and utilising the HERA data to probe the HI 21cm signal from the early Universe. In addition, several projects will include signal simulations, the observation pipeline and data analysis techniques (such techniques consist of machine learning methods).

  • Probing Dark Energy

Dark Energy is thought to be the source of the Universe’s accelerating expansion. Its properties can be accurately measured using the probes extracted from HI and other surveys – such as the power spectrum, bispectrum, BAO scale, redshift-space distortions (RSD) and weak lensing. There are several possible projects associated with different probes.

  • Testing Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity

This involves investigating whether the acceleration of the Universe is possibly not from dark energy but from a modification of General Relativity – using the probes from HI and other surveys (especially RSD). There are several possible projects associated with different probes and different tests.

  • Extracting ‘Fossil’ Information from the Very Early Universe

The primordial fluctuations generated in the universe’s first instants provide the seeds for the formation of the large-scale structure. Imprints of the primordial Universe are ‘frozen’ in the large-scale distribution of matter. Thus, the ‘fossil’ information can be extracted using HI and other surveys. 


Applicants should be South African citizens or permanent residents or citizens of Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zambia. Interested candidates must check NRF rules for further eligibility requirements.

How to apply

Interested applicants must email a single PDF document here containing the following by 5 June 2023

  • CV;
  • Transcripts of all university-level results;
  • A brief statement of research interests related to the topics below (a page). In addition, candidates must include any previous research experience, however minor, with details of the research project and supervisor; and
  • Applicants must submit two reference letters to be sent directly to UWC by the closing date.

NOTE: Preference will be given to students who fit the demographic guidelines provided by South Africa’s National Research Foundation NRF and the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory.

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