Research course

Stellar astrophysics

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 majority of stars reside in binaries or higher multiples, and the most exotic and the most energetic phenomena in the Universe often have a binary origin. Binary stars are the keystones of stellar astrophysics, offering the chance to directly measure physical parameters of stars and so understand the evolution of the contents of the Universe. Within the Astronomy Discipline of the School of Physical Sciences, we carry out research on populations of binary stars, on specific classes of binary, and on individual systems. We have strengths in both multi-wavelength observational programmes as well as in theoretical and computer modelling studies. Around half a dozen postgraduate students currently pursue projects in this area, supported by four academic supervisors.

Potential research projects

We welcome enquiries from prospective students in the following areas:

  • Variability in the SuperWASP stellar population
  • Multiwavelength observations of interacting compact binary stars
  • Evolution of compact binaries
  • Synthetic stellar and binary populations.

Projects currently on offer may be found here.

Recent research projects include

  • Unveiling the nature of magnetic cataclysmic variables
  • The identification and classification of variability in SuperWASP stars
  • A stellar variability survey with STEREO
  • SuperWASP variable stars with varying periods
  • Neutron star mass determinations and evolution of high mass X-ray binaries
  • Evolutionary history of post-common envelope binaries
  • Binary stars as false positives in exoplanet transit searches

Potential supervisors

Fees and funding

See The Open University website

Qualification and course duration


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


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

Course contact details

Administrative support
+44 (0)1908 659036