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Current PhD Studentships

The application deadline has now passed. Thank you for your interest in our PhD studentships. 

Full-time PhD studentships available

Based in Milton Keynes


The School of Physical Sciences at The Open University is inviting applications for full-time PhD studentships for an October 2021 start.

The studentships are funded by a STFC Doctoral Training Partnership and the OU.

Current Projects:


Exploring Exo-Venuses with JWST (A1)  

Black-hole jets and their environments with new X-ray and radio telescopes (A2)

Timing studies of potential ARIEL targets (A3)

New Target Stars and Radial Velocity Discoveries of Hot Rocky Exoplanets (A4) 

The role of ices in star and planet formation (A5)

Molecular physics in space: investigating molecular processes and interactions in condensed films and molecular clusters (P1/A7)



Molecular physics in space: investigating molecular processes and interactions in condensed films and molecular clusters (P1/A7)

Computational studies of few-photon ionisation of molecules irradiated by arbitrarily polarised light (P2)

Density functional theory for painted potential quantum simulators (P3)

Statistical physics of cell orientations in artificial tissues (P4)

Quantum machine learning with cold atoms (P5) 


Planetary Science

Searching for martian samples in asteroidal regolith (PS1)

Probing water-rock interactions in martian meteorites: Preparing for Mars Sample Return (PS2) 

Enstatite Chondrites – An Inner Solar System Source of Volatiles for the Terrestrial Planets? (PS3)

Clouds in the Atmosphere of Mars (PS4)

Mixing in the Atmosphere of Venus (PS5) 

Detecting potential biosignatures in cryovolcanic plumes at Enceladus and other ocean worlds (PS6)

Geological mapping of Mercury’s H-11 (Discovery) quadrangle (PS7)

Venus: petrological-geophysical modelling of the crust to understand tesserae composition (PS8)


Space Instrumentation

EMCCD detector development for space applications: from the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope to future mission opportunities (SI1) (This is a STFC CASE studentship with own funding, in collaboration with Teledyne e2v)

Production of oxygen on the Moon (SI2)

A CubeSat for Lunar Prospecting (SI3)

Investigating radiation damage of the Gaia focal plane using simulations and in-orbit data (SI4)

Image analysis and correction for Soft X-ray Telescopes and Ground Instrumentation (SI5)

High Dynamic Range CMOS Image Sensors (SI7)

Atmospheric retrievals from the NOMAD instrument on the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter mission (SI8)

Atmospheric Processing and Sustainability in an Extra-terrestrial Environment (SI9)

Next generation EOS wind speed LIDAR sensor: Hot Pixel Generation and Clock Induced Charge in Te2v EM CCDs (SI10)


How to apply

If you would like to apply then please read the guidance on applying for a PhD studentship here and email the following to by the application deadline:

  • a completed Application form (UK) if you are resident in the UK or Application form (Overseas) if you are resident elsewhere which states the advertised project(s) above which you would like to apply for;
  • an up to date CV;
  • a list of individual courses taken and grades obtained;
  • a personal statement;
  • any other relevant information that you think may support your case for consideration.

You do not need to submit a research proposal for any of these projects, as they are already defined by us. You are encouraged to contact the lead supervisor of the project(s) for any informal enquiries.

Closing date for applications: Friday 19 February 2021

Interviews will take place on Thursday 18 March and Friday 19 March 2021 


Funding and Eligibility

The studentships are funded by a STFC Doctoral Training Partnership and the OU for 3 years, with a possibility of an extension to 3.5 years. They attract a stipend of £15,285 per year (at present, to be up-rated for 2021/22) directly payable to the student, and cover the University fees.

We normally require that the candidates have at least a 2:1 at UK BSc or MSc level, but some projects may differ – please check the project description you are interested in.

Up to 30% of the studentships can be allocated to international students, according to UKRI rules. 


Advice and Guidance

Please contact with any questions about general administration, eligibility, suitability, funding or the nature of the PhD research. Our PhD administrator Rosa Miller and postgraduate research tutor Konstantin Stefanov will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

If you have questions about specific projects, please contact the lead supervisor named on the project.

We are committed to widening participation and awarding PhD studentships to a diverse community of applicants. We particularly welcome applications from under-represented groups. Equal Opportunity is University policy.