Research course

Astronomy

Institution
Open University · School of Physical Sciences
Qualifications
PhDMPhil

Entry requirements

PhD: The normal minimum entrance requirement is an upper second class honours degree or master's degree, relevant to the proposed area of study, from a recognised higher education institution in the UK. You should also have experience of academic research in the previous four years, normally in the form of either a master's degree in research methods, an undergraduate degree with a research element in the final year, or work-related experience with evidence through research reports. If you're not sure if you meet the entry requirements, please contact us (research-degrees-team@open.ac.uk). MPhil: Applicants should normally hold, or be expecting to obtain, a bachelors degree with at least first or upper-second class honours, or an equivalent qualification. However, entry requirements differ between academic areas, and sometimes a taught masters degree is also required. The research topic pages (in the menu on the right of our Research areas page) give details of specific entry requirements, and provide contact details to discuss your suitability for the MPhil with a member of academic staff.

Astrochemistry; Cosmology and extragalactic astronomy; Exoplanets and planetary physics; Star formation; Stellar astrophysics

Months of entry

October, February

Course content

We have international programmes of observational, theoretical, laboratory-based and mission-based astronomy research, focusing on all four of the key science questions of European astronomy and aligned with the Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) science challenges: Do we understand the extremes of the Universe? How do galaxies form and evolve? What is the origin and evolution of stars and planets? How do we fit in?

The Astronomy Discipline at the OU is one of four strategic disciplines within the School of Physical Sciences, which also hosts physics, planetary and space science, and space instrumentation research, as well as teaching across the physical sciences.

Key facts
  • Astronomy is a highly productive, internationally excellent and expanding discipline within the OU, producing typically over 150 research papers a year and financially supported by STFC, the European Commission and other funding bodies.
  • We were part of the Unit of Assessment 7 submission from The Open University, which achieved 6th in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework power ranking (reflecting the quality and cohort size), with 77 per cent of our outputs achieving 3*/4* grades.
  • As part of the School of Physical Sciences, postgraduate students in astronomy benefit from specific research skills training related to their subject areas (e.g. astronomical computing, statistics) in addition to their individual research project supervision, as well as general research training at faculty and University level and via SEPnet.
  • Astronomy is a priority area for OU-funded broadcasting, and there are often opportunities to become involved in BBC television or radio series. We regularly consult on BBC television series funded by the OU including Stargazing Live and Bang Goes The Theory.
  • We also teach more astronomy undergraduates than the rest of the UK higher education sector put together, with over 40 years' experience specialising in distance education, taking students from no previous knowledge to undergraduate degrees and beyond.

Specific projects are typically offered in areas of: Exoplanets; Astrochemistry; Cosmology and extragalactic astronomy; Star formation, and Stellar astrophysics.See the individual entries under each of these headings for more details.

Projects currently on offer may be found here.

Fees and funding

Please see The Open University website for more information.

Qualification and course duration

PhD

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

MPhil

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

Course contact details

Name
Administrative support
Email
stem-sps-phd-admin@open.ac.uk
Phone
+44 (0)1908 659036