Research at the Astronomy department is broadly centred around the following themes:

Stellar and Galactic Astrophysics
- Galactic Composition and Stellar Evolution
- Accretion Physics in Compact Stellar Binaries

Extragalactic Astronomy
- Galaxy Evolution
- Cosmic Magnetism
- Large-Scale Structures of Galaxies and the Zone of Avoidance.

In each of these thematic areas, expertise exists in the department across a range of ground- and space-based observational techniques in X-ray (e.g. Swift, Integral), optical (e.g. SALT, VLT, HST), infrared (e.g. 2MASS, WISE, IRSF) and radio astronomy (e.g. KAT-7, ATCA, JVLA, Westerbork, Parkes, Nancay), with the additional expertise in developing optical astronomical instrumentation (e.g. electron-multiplying CCDs).

MeerKAT Large Survey Projects
Besides leading many research projects on SALT as principal investigators, members of the Astronomy department lead four of the ten MeerKAT Large Survey Projects. The latter corresponds to an investment of approximately one-third of all the time available on MeerKAT over the first 5 years of its operation. As the MeerKAT array will be incorporated in the mid-frequency dish component of the SKA, this places UCT Astronomy, its staff and postgraduate students, at the very forefront of the scientific exploitation of the SKA.