Image of galaxy

Exploring the makeup of the universe

Our research covers galaxies and stars, large-scale structures, gravitational waves and dark energy

The Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG) is an international centre of research excellence in cosmology, gravitation and astrophysics.

Our Cosmology and Astrophysics research investigates the evolution of galaxies and their stars, the early universe and large-scale structure in the cosmos, as well as the energy content of the Universe and the nature of gravity. Through the work of the institute, we seek to understand the physics of the Universe and inspire the next generation of scientist through education, training and outreach. We also innovate using our advanced skills in mathematics and data science.

Scientists at the ICG play leading roles in major ongoing international collaborations and projects, including the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), the European Space Agency Euclid satellite, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) and the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA). Follow the links below for more details about these and many other projects that we are involved in at the ICG

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Cosmology and Astrophysics research

Research at the Institute covers theoretical and observational cosmology and astrophysics, and their interface, and is supported by Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), Royal Society, European Research Council (ERC) and European Union (EU) funding.

Within the 4 areas of expertise below, our work covers topics including the very early universe, dark energy, testing gravity on cosmological scales, large scale structure, gravitational lensing. supernovae, galaxy evolution, and stellar population modelling.

Research projects

  • Tactile Universe

    We're creating 3D printed, tactile images of galaxies to engage the visually impaired (VI) community with our astrophysics research.

  • The Nature of Supernovae

    Research that seeks to learn which types of stars die as supernova explosions and how those explosions occur.


Researchers at the ICG are problem solvers, gaining an understanding of the science of the universe through the analysis of large datasets. Some of our leading scientists teach on our undergraduate and postgraduate maths and physics degree courses.

Undergraduate study

The University offers a range of undergraduate courses in mathematics and physics, including:

Postgraduate study

We also offer PhDs at the ICG – visit our Cosmology and Gravitation postgraduate research page for details of our current pre-approved funded and self-funded PhDs, and to find out more about our 2020 PhD studentships.

We welcome applications from all qualified applicants, but applications are particularly encouraged from traditionally under-represented groups in science. The University of Portsmouth holds an Athena SWAN bronze award and is an Institute of Physics Project Juno Supporter; these projects show a commitment to introduce organisational and cultural practices that promote gender equality in science and create a better working environment for men and women.

Our culture

Athena SWAN at the ICG

The Athena SWAN Charter was established by the Equality Challenge Unit to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research.

The University of Portsmouth has been awarded Athena SWAN Bronze as a Higher Education Institution, and the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation has been awarded an Athena SWAN Bronze award, in recognition of the good employment practice in place within the department.

Dignity and Respect in the ICG

We believe everyone has the right to work and study with dignity and respect, free from harassment and bullying. We're committed to widening participation in higher education, whether you are an undergraduate student, postgraduate student, postdoctoral researcher or staff member. It's essential we understand and accommodate everyone’s individual needs for our continued success.

Within the ICG, Laura Nuttall is our Dignity and Respect Champion – for more information on the work we're doing, email

Outreach and public engagement activities

We're committed to inspiring the next generation of scientists through our programme of outreach and public engagement, working with local schools and online communities through citizen science projects.  

Innovation at the ICG

Researchers at the ICG are problem solvers, gaining an understanding of the science of the Universe through the analysis of large datasets. The algorithms developed in cosmology research can be applied in other sectors to provide powerful insights from data. We are well versed in providing clear presentations from data with exciting visualisations.

Using our state-of-the-art supercomputer, SCIAMA, we are able to use advanced statistics and machine learning to identify correlations and anomalies in data sets.
Expertise developed in ICG research in cosmology is being used to address real-world problems.  We have worked with cardiology clinicians at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to develop a web based tool which guides treatment following cardiac arrest.  We are working with clinicians at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust on a project to study the development of moles on the skin, using techniques developed for analysis of changes in the appearance of supernovae.

The ICG is also working with geoscientists at the University of Portsmouth to map landslides on a global scale, using our experience with maps of the cosmos.  This work will be of practical use to the insurance industry and those considering large infrastructure projects in developing countries. The ICG has also played a significant role in COVID-19 related projects: using satellite images to evaluate social distancing, using image analysis to measure the spread of cough droplets and analysing the University of Portsmouth’s in-house asymptomatic COVID testing results.

Moving forward we are investigating opportunities to apply image analysis tools within the space sector. The ICG hosts an annual data dive event, where postgraduate physics students from across the South-East are able to investigate data intensive problems.  Last year’s event investigated cardiology data with our colleagues from King’s College Hospital.

For further information please contact

ICG leadership

Image of Professor Adam Amara

Professor Adam Amara

  • Job Title Professor of Cosmology
  • Email Address
  • Faculty Faculty of Technology
  • PhD Supervisor PhD Supervisor
Image of Professor David Bacon

Professor David Bacon

  • Job Title Professor of Cosmology
  • Email Address
  • Faculty Faculty of Technology
  • PhD Supervisor PhD Supervisor

Contact us

Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation
Dennis Sciama Building
Burnaby Road

Telephone: +44 (0)23 9284 5151

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