South African scientists are playing a leading role in developing the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). A large component of the SKA will be built in the Northern Cape. The SKA will open a new window that will allow us to study the properties of the Universe over the 14 billion years of its existence. This international scientific experiment will dramatically extend our knowledge of how stars and galaxies formed and how they have evolved since the Universe was much younger. It will also help shed further light on some of the biggest questions in science, questions such as: “Is Einstein’s theory of gravity complete?” and “How did life start in the Universe?”

The Department of Physics & Astronomy at UWC is internationally recognised for its research in cosmology and astronomy. The South African precursor to the SKA, MeerKAT, is operational and will soon start generating exciting science results. UWC researchers are playing a leading role in the development of various large galaxy surveys that will be carried out with MeerKAT. There are opportunities to join us from undergraduate to postdoctoral level.


Can you see yourself being part of this, the biggest science endeavour in astronomy, ever? If so, then why not apply for an SKA-funded undergraduate scholarship?

Each year, at the undergraduate level, the Department of Physics and Astronomy aims to offer up to four full bursaries that cover all of a student’s tuition fees, as well as reasonable living expenses. These bursaries are offered in partnership with the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO). The aim is to support students applyingto UWC to study towards a B.Sc. degree in Physics with Mathematics. To be eligible, a student must have received a Senior Certificate with matriculation endorsement. Furthermore, excellent final marks for Physical Science and Mathematics are required.

Scholarships are awarded for up to 4 years, covering the durations of the undergraduate and honours degrees. Successful applicants will receive additional support in terms of computing equipment as necessary (e.g., laptops). All funded students are expected to be highly engaged with various SARAO-related activities (e.g., SARAO conferences/workshops).

Direct queries can be sent to Dr Ed Elson (drelson.e.c@gmail.com). Potential candidates will be contacted and interviewed telephonically, and will be required to provide a certified copy of their final matric results. Students must be South African citizens.

Latest Opportunities:

  • RAS – Astro4Dev grants
    The annual call for RAS Astro4Dev grants is now open. Due to travel restrictions, the grants will be awarded in two categories this year: astronomy-for-development technical projects virtual attendance at the 2021 National Astronomy Meeting of the UK (closing date for abstracts 30 April 2021) Deadline for applications: 10 May 2021 More information: http://www.astro4dev.org/partners-programs/rasexperts2/
  • 2022 CRC MSc/PhD Bursaries
    The Centre for Radio Cosmology (CRC) at UWC is internationally recognised for its research in cosmology and galaxy evolution with MeerKAT, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and other telescopes. The CRC is heavily involved in the South African and international SKA Projects. In 2021, 25 PhD/ MSc students and 13 postdoctoral fellows are doing astrophysics …

    Read more2022 CRC MSc/PhD Bursaries