Undergraduate research

Prospective student enquiries


RSAA provides a range of opportunities for undergraduate students to take part in research programs with astronomers at the school.

research topic course (ASTR3005) is offered to later-year ANU undergraduates, in which students undertake a research project in any area of astrophysics over the course of a semester.

The RSAA runs an internship program that provides an opportunity for students to do research work at the observatory in parallel to undergraduate study, and hosts a mid-year winter school that provides a select group of ANU undergraduates the chance to experience research and observing activities at the school. 

In addition, ANU summer research scholarship places at RSAA are available to students from around Australia and New Zealand during the university summer break each year.


A list of potential research projects is available on the potential projects page.

AITC internships

AITC Summer Internship Program / Northrop Grumman Global Externship Program

The Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre (AITC), at the Mount Stromlo Observatory, is pleased to partner with the Northrop Grumman Externship Program to offer summer internship positions for undergraduate students studying engineering, science, computer science or mathematics. Interns will complete a defined research project and participate in activities that develop technical skills and help prepare them for professional employment. They will be supervised and mentored by AITC scientists and engineers and will be required to work as a team in completing set tasks.

2017/18 AITC Summer Internship Program

Please note that this year's AITC internship program will be run as part of the Australian National University's Summer Research Scholarship/Internship program, commencing Monday, 20 November 2017 and finishing Friday, 19 January 2018. Engineering, science, computer science or mathematics students wishing to apply for an internship with the AITC need to apply directly through the Summer Research Scholarship/Internship website.

Importantly, applications must be submitted between 1 August 2017 and 31 August 2017. An extension of this central application deadline is not possible. Available projects and further information for 2017 applicants will be made available for viewing on this website by 1 August 2017.

For further information, please email rsaa.sa@anu.edu.au and A/Prof. Celine d'Orgeville celine.dorgeville@anu.edu.au, AITC Student Convenor

The Program

Students will complete a defined project under the supervision of an AITC staff member. In addition to completing a specified project, all interns will participate in activities that develop their professional skills and expand their understanding of the Australian Space Industry, including:

  • Tour of the AITC and EOS Space Systems
  • Practical introduction to Systems Engineering, Project Management and Risk Analysis from SHOAL (formerly Aerospace Concepts) (to be confirmed)
  • Visit to Nova Systems and a briefing on their activities (to be confirmed)
  • Access to technical experts from Northrop Grumman in Australia and the US
  • Visit to the Space Co-ordination Office with a briefing on the role of government (to be confirmed)
  • Tour of the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex
  • Tour of Siding Spring, Parkes, and Narrabri Observatories  (to be confirmed)
  • Expert speaker program in astronomy, instrumentation and space engineering
  • Development of report writing skills
  • Development of presentation skills


  • Project plan (within one week of start date). This must be approved by the project supervisor and will define the project milestones.
  • Literature review. All references and sources must be cited.
  • Progress reports
  • Written project report
  • Abstract for a conference paper and abstract for public talk
  • Public presentation of project and results

Available Projects

A list of available project is list on the potential projects page


  • The primary working location will be the Mount Stromlo Observatory.  
  • Transport to and from Mount Stromlo is the responsibility of the student. A free shuttle bus is available to students between the ANU main campus in the morning (arriving @ 9:00 am) and the evening (departing @ 5:00 pm)
  • Students must be available for the full duration of the internship (with the exception of the Christmas break). This is a non-negotiable requirement.
  • The program offers approximately 280 hours of supervised work. Requests for internship extensions beyond the normal internship duration must be submitted to the AITC Student Convenor before, and no later than, the week prior to the Christmas break. Extension requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis, subject to the availability of supervisors, the availability of a project, and the performance of the student.
  • IMPORTANT: The ANU Summer Research Scholarship (including full board on campus and weekly allowance) cannot be extended beyond the normal duration of the scholarship program. Students interested in applying for an internship extension must therefore plan to support themselves, and find alternative accomodation, beyond the normal duration of the scholarship program.


Please direct any enquiries to rsaa.sa@anu.edu.au and A/Prof. Celine d'Orgeville celine.dorgeville@anu.edu.au, AITC Student Convenor.

This program would not be possible without the support of a number of organisations and individuals. The AITC would like to thank ANU, Northrop Grumman, EOS Space Systems, Space Environment Research Centre, SHOAL (formerly Aerospace Concepts), Nova Systems, the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, and the Space Coordination Office.

Summer scholarships

Each summer RSAA offer a number of Summer Research Scholarships, which enable suitably qualified undergraduates to spend 8 to 11 weeks at Mount Stromlo working on a research project under the supervision of an RSAA astronomer. The scholarships provide a first-hand view of the work at a research observatory and scholars have access to state-of-the-art optical, infrared, radio and computational facilities. Areas of research include star formation, stellar evolution, galactic dynamics, observational cosmology, active galactic nuclei, interstellar-medium physics, computational astrophysics and planetary science.

These scholarships are intended for currently-enrolled undergraduate students at universities in Australia and New Zealand completing the third or fourth year of a full-time course leading to an honours degree. Outstanding second-year students who are intending to complete an honours degree may also be considered.

Please note: The AITC Summer Internship Program / Northrop Grumman Global Externship Program that is offered to undergraduate students studying engineering, science, computer science or mathematics will be run as part of the Summer Research Scholarships program in 2017/18. For application procedure and deadline, please see below.

Program and application dates: The RSAA Summer Research Scholarship/Internship (including the AITC/Northrop Grumman internship) will be run from Monday, 20 November 2017 to Friday, 19 January 2018. The application period is strictly from 1 August 2017 to 31 August 2017. Applicants have to use the central application website to apply, starting 1 August.

For detailed information about the program and how to apply, see the CHM/COS Summer Research Scholarship page and the ANU Summer Research Scholarship/Internship program pages.

RSAA summer research program contacts


Available summer scholarship projects

You can find avaliable summer scholarship projects on the potential projects page.

Winter School

Australian and New Zealand undergraduate students have the opportunity to participate in exciting science at the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics (RSAA) Winter School. During the week-long workshop, students will experience cutting edge research and take part in scientific observations on some of Australia’s most advanced telescopes.

The Winter School will be held over seven action packed days and includes real astrophysical investigations, special presentations from leading researchers, and night time access to research telescopes to participate in scientific observations. Participants will travel to Australia’s premier optical and radio astronomical observatories and will carry out their own observations using the ANU 2.3m telescope.

Winter School participants will:

  • Learn about stellar physics, planetary science, black holes & cosmology
  • Tour observatories and research telescopes, including a VIP visit of Australia’s largest optical telescope
  • Have the chance to accompany astrophysicists during scientific observations
  • Receive advice on coursework options, internships and scholarships.

Read about the 2011 RSAA Winter School.


3 July - 9 July 2017


Mt Stromlo & Siding Spring Observatories


Free for selected participants


For details on how to apply, send us an email.


Updated:  23 February 2018/Responsible Officer:  RSAA Director/Page Contact:  Webmaster