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Current PhD Studentships

School of Physical Sciences at The Open University

Based in Milton Keynes

The application deadline for the projects below in the current round of interviews has now passed. 

The School of Physical Sciences offers full-time, fully funded (maintenance stipend and home-fees) PhD studentships available to start in October 2023. The projects available this year fall within the following research themes:

  • Astronomy
  • Planetary and Space Science
  • Physics
  • Societal Impacts of Space


A1: Disentangling the effects of spotty stars from exoplanet atmosphere observations

A3: Exploiting JWST to unveil our Icy Universe

Planetary and Space Science

PS1: The phase-dependence of asteroid spectral properties (Astronomy/Planetary and Space Science project)

PS2: From Warm and Wet to Cold and Dry on Mars: Ancient Environments as Seen from a Rover Perspective

PS3: Geological mapping of Mercury at high spatial resolution

PS5: Thermal mapping asteroids using simulations and spacecraft data

PS7: Probing the origin(s) of volatiles in the Moon and their resource potential

PS8: The Fluvial History of Noachis Terra and Hellas Basin, Mars

PS9: Signatures of organic-salt-ice interactions in the plumes of Enceladus and other icy moons


P1: Quantum machine learning with cold atoms

P2: Environment effects in electron scattering from molecules

P3: Understanding clustering effects on the radiation response of fundamental biomolecules

P4: Ultrafast phenomena in correlated quantum matter

P5: Theory of exotic phases and unconventional superconductivity in quantum materials

Societal Impacts of Space

SIP1: Evaluation of the societal impacts of space


How to apply

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

  • a completed Application form UK if you are resident in the UK or Application form non-UK if you are resident elsewhere. 
  • 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, as it is already defined by us. You are encouraged to contact the lead supervisor of the project(s) for any informal enquiries.

Closing date for applications: 20th March 2023

Interviews will take place remotely between 27th-31th March 2023. 

We expect to award 3 studentships across all the advertised projects.

Furthermore, we invite applications for the joint PhD studentships in The Schools of Physical Sciences and Computing & Communications, funded by the DISCnet Centre for Doctoral Training as follows:

DISCnet PhD studentships last 3.5 years with an additional two 3-month research placements in one of our non-university partners (business, public sector or charity), making the full-time PhD duration 4 years. Part-time study may be possible for up to 8 years. Many placements will have a Sustainability focus, including Net Zero and climate change. Students are trained in cutting-edge techniques including: Big Data; Collaborative Programming; Statistics for Machine Learning; High Performance Computing; Machine Learning. Students also have access to subscription training such as DataCamp.

The studentships cover fees, include a stipend (£17,668 per annum for 2022–2023 full-time study), and also include £1,000 travel allowance each year for full-time study, pro-rated for part-time study. The studentships start in October 2023. The candidates must be classed as Home Student as outlined in the Funding and Entry Requirements

Students should have either (a) a 2:1 MPhys degree or other integrated masters in a relevant discipline, or (b) a first-class BSc in a relevant discipline and an MSc, or (c) a 2:1 BSc in a relevant discipline combined with relevant MSc-equivalent experience or expertise.

To apply, please send your completed Application form to by the deadline 17th March 2023. 

Funding and Eligibility

The studentships are normally funded for 3 years and 3 months, attract a stipend of £17,668 per year (2022/23 rate) directly payable to the student, and cover the home-student University fees. 

To be eligible for funding, applicants must meet the UKRI academic requirements. 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 or confirm with the main supervisor of the project you are interested in. 

Advice and Guidance

Please contact with any questions about general administration, eligibility, suitability, funding or the nature of the PhD research. Our PhD administrator Debbie Briggs 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.