Research course

Exoplanets and planetary physics

Open University · School of Physical Sciences

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 degree in physics or a related subject (or equivalent)

Months of entry

October, February

Course content

The study of exoplanets is a rapidly moving field at the forefront of astrophysics. The Astronomy Discipline in the School of Physical Sciences is involved in the search for new exoplanets, in multiwavelength follow-up studies of established planets, consideration of habitability in novel contexts, and in the modelling of exoplanetary atmospheres and interiors.

We are members of the SuperWASP, RoPACs, CHEOPS and PLATO consortia. Our exoplanets researchers frequently use the Hubble Space Telescope, other competitively awarded telescopes, and we also use our own PIRATE telescope on the island of Tenerife.

The exoplanets group closely collaborates with the School's planetary science and space instrumentation groups, especially in the areas of planetary atmospheres and habitability.

Potential research projects

We welcome enquiries from prospective students in the following areas:

  • Rocky exoplanet compositions
  • A Galactic population model of planets
  • Habitability of planets around white dwarf stars
  • Mass loss from close-in exoplanets
  • Dynamics of multiple exoplanet systems
  • Earth analogue exoplanets

Projects currently on offer may be found here.

Current/recent research projects
  • Discovery of close-in planets around nearby stars (DMPP)
  • The mass-radius-composition relationships for low mass exoplanets
  • Follow-up photometry of transiting exoplanet candidates with PIRATE
  • False-positive signal in exoplanet transit searches
  • Transit detection
  • Measuring the dust properties of KIC 1255b

Potential supervisors:

Fees and funding

Please see The Open University website

Qualification and course duration


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


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

Course contact details

Administrative support
+44 (0)1908 659036