Physics education research

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

The Physics Education Research Group brings together physicists with an interest in how students learn and a passion for improving their teaching. At the OU this research theme is inevitably concerned with the full range of educational technologies, pedagogical methodologies and evaluative techniques that are required to support, sustain and improve the evidence-based teaching of physics in a large and diverse organisation. Research students in this area are housed in the School of Physical Sciences where we work in association with the OpenScience Laboratory and eSTEeM. Areas of particular expertise are:

  • online experimentation
  • e-assessment and its links to learning
  • development of concept inventories
  • physics education in an open and distance learning environment
  • public engagement and physics outreach through a range of media
  • aspects of equality, diversity and inclusion in physics education.

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

  • Optimizing robotic telescope projects for teaching astrophysics
  • Shared web-based representations to support learning
  • A critical assessment of remote experiments in science distance teaching
  • Investigating inclusive approaches to online and digital teaching for disabled students
  • Investigating the impact of intersectionality and assessment on demographic gaps in UK physics degree outcomes
  • Qualitative differences in responses to free-text and multiple-choice questions, and demographic variation between them
  • Conceptual understanding of students in mathematically-dense physics concepts and links with teaching approach.

Current/recent research projects

  • Practical science instruction via remote and virtual experiments: relating authenticity, sociability and metafunctionality to effective pedagogy
  • Establishing physics concept inventories using free-text questions
  • Investigating the use of technology enhanced assessment to reduce demographic gaps in attainment in physics

Potential supervisors

Fees and funding

UK fee International fee
Full time: £4,786 per year Full time: £15,698 per year
Part time: £2,393 per year Part time: £7,849 per year

Some of our research students are funded via charities such as the Ogden Trust; some are funded by University studentships; others are self-funded.

For detailed information about fees and funding, visit Fees and studentships.

To see current funded studentship vacancies across all research areas, see Current studentships.


Women learning physics online

How to apply

Get in touch

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

Administrative support
Phone: +44 (0)1908 653796

Apply now

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