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Research degrees
Research areas
Astrobiology, space law and governance

Astrobiology, space law and governance

Qualifications Duration Start dates Application period
(MPhil also available)
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
February and October April to July
(February start)
November to February (October start)
PhD (MPhil also available)
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
Start dates
February and October
Application period
April to July (February start)
November to February (October start)

AstrobiologyOU is an interdisciplinary research group that addresses the scientific, governance and ethical challenges associated with astrobiology and related space exploration; whilst ensuring societal benefits and sustainability. Space law and governance seeks to understand and develop the legal and governance structure relating to space activities with the primary objectives of promoting best practices, focusing on astrobiology related activities. As well as ensuring the cross-pollination of ideas between astrobiology and the disciplines of law, governance and regulations.

Our research looks at the existing COSPAR planetary protection principles and the broader framework of space law and governance underpinned by the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.  Our research takes an approach grounded in legal geography and the environmental humanities to provide a broader, social, political and environmental context for space governance. We endeavour to advance a framework for sustainable, equitable use of outer space in accordance with the ideals of the Outer Space Treaty.

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 undergraduate degree (or equivalent). If you are not a UK citizen, you may need to prove your knowledge of English

Potential research projects

  • Planetary protection
  • Space Environmental Law
  • Legal and ethical aspects of space exploration and/or development

Potential supervisors

Fees and funding

UK fee International fee
Full time: £4,500 per year Full time: £11,426 per year
Part time: £2,250 per year Part time: £5,715 per year

Some of our research students are funded via The Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership or the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership; some are funded by University studentships; others are self-funded.

For detailed information about fees and funding, and to see current funded studentship vacancies across all research areas, visit Fees and studentships.


Picture of a microscope

How to apply

Get in touch

If you have an enquiry specific to this research topic, please contact:

Lin Nilsen
Email: FBL-PHD
Phone: +44 (0)1908 858365

Apply now

If you’re interested in applying for this research topic, please take a look at the application process.