Research course

Astrobiology and Habitats for Life

Open University · School of Physical Sciences

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent) in relevant subject (e.g. geochemistry, chemistry or microbiology, dependent on project offered).

Months of entry

February, October

Course content

We use a range of experimental techniques, from molecular biology to mineralogy and geochemistry to orbital flight experiments, to understand the way in which microorganisms persist in extreme environments and how this could be applied to environments elsewhere. This includes investigating how microorganisms interact with the lithosphere to gain energy and nutrients and whether they leave behind biosignatures that could be used for life detection. Projects also use theoretical and simulation methods to quantify the conditions on other planetary bodies and their potential to support life, past and present. Our work is fundamental for understanding the environmental conditions in other planetary environments that can inform future life detection missions, and crucial for understanding the data (or samples) returned by such missions.

Qualification and course duration


part time
72 months
full time
36 months


part time
24 months
full time
15 months

Course contact details

Administrative support
+44 (0)1908 858253