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Current PhD Studentships

Full-time PhD studentships available

School of Physical Sciences at The Open University

Based in Milton Keynes

The School of Physical Sciences invites applications for full-time PhD studentships for an October 2022 start. The projects fall within the following research themes:

  • Astronomy
  • Physics
  • Planetary and Space Science
  • Space Instrumentation
  • Physics Education Research

Details of the PhD projects we are offering can be found here:


Unravelling the mysteries of Giant Star-forming Clumps using Deep Learning (A1)

The life cycles of black-hole jets (A2)

Hunting for Rare Treasure with Machine Learning: Gravitational Lensing and Glitches in the Euclid space telescope and Vera Rubin Observatory (A3)


Computational studies of few-photon ionisation of molecules irradiated by arbitrarily polarised light (P1)

Density functional theory for painted potential quantum simulators (P2)

Theory of the interplay between unconventional superconductivity and strongly correlated phases (P3)

Ultrafast phenomena in correlated quantum matter (P4)

Understanding clustering effects on the radiation response of fundamental biomolecules (P5)

Quantum machine learning with Cold Atoms (P6)

Planetary and Space Science

Oxygen isotope systematics in extra-terrestrial high-temperature systems (PS1)

Searching for Martian samples in asteroidal regolith (PS2)

Aerosol formation and the entrainment of organic biosignatures within cryovolcanic plumes at Enceladus and other icy ocean worlds (PS3)

Water ice clouds in the Atmosphere of Mars (PS4)

Potential bio-signatures in the sub-surface ocean of Enceladus (PS5)

Hydrogen availability in the Europan subsurface (PS6)

Thermal mapping asteroids using simulations and spacecraft data (PS7)

Ancient Environments on Mars as seen from a Rover Perspective (PS8)

Carbonates in ungrouped carbonaceous chondrites: tools for exploring the geology of hydrated asteroids (PS9)

Low temperature geochemistry on water rich asteroids explored through hydrothermal alteration experiments (PS10)

Nanoscale Analysis of Hydrous and Anhydrous Phosphates in Martian Samples (PS11)

ExoMars Rosalind Franklin Rover – surface observations and analysis (PS12)

Fluvial processes at Oxia Planum: The ExoMars Rover landing site (PS13)

Space Instrumentation

Infrared image sensors for space and Solar System exploration (SI1)

Dust devils through the eyes of a Mars rover (SI2)

Investigating radiation damage of the Gaia focal plane using simulations and in-orbit data (SI3)

Next generation EOS wind speed LIDAR sensor: Hot Pixel Generation and Clock Induced Charge in Te2v EM CCDs (SI4)

Physics Education Research 

Inclusive investigative project for physics and astronomy students in a distance learning environment (PE1)

What can we learn from and about free-response assessment questions in physics? (PE2)

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 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 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 21 January 2022 (12pm, noon)

Interviews will take place remotely on Wednesday 9 February to Friday 11 February 2022 

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 £15,609 per year directly payable to the student, and cover the University fees. In 2022, we expect to award at least 5 studentships across the advertised projects.  

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.

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.