Irish Research Council – ESO Studentship Programme

Posted: 4 October, 2019

Background: ESO Studentship Programme

ESO, the European Southern Observatory (or formally the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere) awards Studentship positions each year, based in both Germany and Chile. The programme offers an invaluable training opportunity for the next generation of Astronomers and users of ESO facilities. Studentships are open to students enrolled in a PhD programme, preferentially but not necessarily in an ESO member state. There are two annual application deadlines: May and November.

Context: IRC-ESO Studentship Programme

Acknowledging the importance of Ireland’s membership of the ESO and the value of investing in Ireland’s next generation of astronomers, the IRC signed a five-year Partnership Agreement with the ESO in June 2019. The IRC considers the ESO’s Studentship Programme to provide a valuable opportunity for astronomers of the future to gain experience at the most productive ground-based astronomical observatory in the world.  The IRC has agreed to fund an ESO studentship for an Ireland-based researcher in 2019.

Students enrolled in a PhD programme in astronomy or related fields will be eligible to apply. They must be registered at a higher education institution in the Republic of Ireland that is eligible to receive Irish Research Council funding.

Applicants may be recent entrants to a doctoral degree programme or PhD candidates nearing the completion of their research degree. Applicants may be Council scholars or may be funded by another source.

Please note: applicants must have the equivalent duration remaining on their PhD programme for the duration of funding they are applying for. The studentship cannot be used to extend the duration of your PhD programme.

The Studentship will be of a one- or two-year duration. Applicants must specify in their application whether they are seeking a one- or two-year Studentship, as extensions will not subsequently be granted. Please note: the duration of the award is not intended to extend the period of your doctoral studies.

The successful applicant will be selected by the ESO and approved by the IRC. The successful applicant must be above the ESO’s threshold of excellence but be unsuccessful in the ESO’s existing programme.

What we offer: IRC-ESO Studentship Programme

The Irish Research Council-ESO Studentship will consist of the following:

  • An annual stipend of €25,000;
  • research expenses of €4,500;
  • A contribution to fees (up to a maximum of €5,750 per annum) will be made only if the applicant is already IRC-funded.

How to apply

Applicants must apply through the ESO Portal and will adhere to the Programme’s existing application process, supplying documents such as the following:

  • Cover letter;
  • Curriculum Vitae, including a list of publications, if any;
  • Copies of the applicant’s university transcript and certificate(s) or diploma(s);
  • Summary of the applicant’s Master’s thesis project (if applicable) and ongoing projects, including the title and supervisor;
  • An outline of the proposed PhD project, containing a clear timeline, the requested starting date. The applicant will highlight the advantages of coming to ESO in the project description;
  • The names and contact details of the applicant’s home institution supervisor and the ESO local supervisor. They will be automatically invited to submit a recommendation letter;
  • Non-Council-funded applicants only:
    • Letter of commitment from the home institution that will indicate that the applicant’s postgraduate fees will be waived or paid for by another source of funding during his/her time spent at ESO facilities;
    • Confirmation from the home institution of the financial support to be provided to the applicant for the remainder of his/her doctoral research after the period spent at ESO facilities.

17 September 2019 Open call
15 November 2019Deadline for applications
End of Nov/Start Dec 2019Invitations made to interview
End of December 2019Outcome of call


Queries relating to this programme must be submitted by applicants directly to the ESO at Applicants are kindly asked not to contact the Irish Research Council directly.

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