Research course

Volcano dynamics

Open University · Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent) in a relevant subject area

Months of entry


Course content

Researchers in the Volcano Dynamics Group are interested in understanding how volcanoes work and how they affect the environment, wherever they occur, even on other planets. Our research covers satellite-based volcano monitoring and eruption detection, deep Earth processes, surface environmental impact, and planetary perspectives of magmatism. We are therefore an interdisciplinary group of academics, research staff, and PhD students drawn from the Departments of Environment, Earth and Ecosystems and Physical Sciences. We also collaborate with colleagues in the Faculties of Social Sciences and Mathematics, Computing and Technology, and with a range of scientists both nationally and internationally, including a number of volcano observatories.

Our research takes us to active and ancient volcanoes across the world – to Central America, Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, India, Africa, and more. At any one time there are about ten students working towards a PhD in volcanology-related topics. This makes us one of the major university volcanology groups in the UK, and you will find us regularly presenting our work at international and national conferences.

Students work with volcanologists, petrologists, geophysicists, geochemists, geochronologists, biogeochemists, statisticians, planetary scientists, ecosystem scientists and specialists in remote sensing on research projects to solve problems relating to the following types of topic:

  • Forecasting volcanic eruptions
  • Environmental impacts of volcanic activity
  • Geochemistry of igneous rocks and solid Earth processes
  • Rates and timescales of volcanic processes
  • Monitoring active volcanism from satellites.
Potential supervisors

Department specialisms

We encourage enquiries from prospective students on any aspect of volcanology, including igneous petrology and geochemistry, and those linked to Earth System processes. Lists of postgraduate research projects likely to be available for a 2016 start will become available towards the end of 2015.

Fees and funding

Please see The Open University website for more information.

Qualification and course duration


full time
36 months
part time
72 months
distance learning
variable months


full time
15 months
part time
24 months
distance learning
variable months

Course contact details

Administrative support
+44 (0)1908 659036