Research course

Planetary and Space Sciences

Open University · Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

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Entry requirements

The normal minimum entrance requirement is an upper second class honours degree or masters degree.

Months of entry


Course content

Research in planetary and space science (PSS) covers a wide variety of Solar System science and exploration. We investigate the origin and evolution of the Solar System through the physical, geological, chemical and biological processes that drive it. We use laboratory and space mission experiments, remote observation, environmental simulation and modelling to investigate the surfaces and atmospheres of the terrestrial planets, the Moon, asteroids, comets and extraterrestrial materials.

Research activity in PSS is funded mostly by the UK Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the UK Space Agency, the European Space Agency and the European Union, but also draws in support from other research councils, charities and industry.

PSS has a long history of involvement in major Solar System exploration missions through the exploitation of instruments developed at the OU, such as on Cassini Huygens, Stardust, Genesis, Rosetta and ExoMars, and through international collaborative teams. PSS members are active in the development of new mission proposals and studies with ESA, other space agencies and national programmes. In addition we make use of international ground- and space-based observatories as well as in-house laboratory and simulation facilities. Research students are involved in all aspects of PSS research.

Each year we advertise 10 or more defined research projects and expect to recruit full-time postgraduate students to typically 2-4 of those projects, on fully funded studentships (providing fees and stipend). Part-time, self-funded postgraduate students on self-defined projects are only appointed in exceptional circumstances, where the projects closely match the interests and activities of staff members.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • PhD
    part time
    96 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    48 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Graduate School