Planetary Science

Please consider applying for one of our STFC funded PhD projects advertised below. All applicants will need to submit an online application selecting the appropriate research area from the drop down menu of the electronic application form.  Planetary science is an interdisciplinary subject and we welcome students who have studied geology, geochemistry, chemistry, physics or planetary science at degree level, and who ideally have experience of carrying out an independent research project as part of their degree.

You will be joining a vibrant research group who use laboratory techniques to address key science problems in the Earth, environmental and planetary sciences. Explore our research grouplaboratory facilities, and our different research themes. Our research spans understanding the formation history of asteroids, to the volcanic history of Mars and the Moon, to the evolution of the Earth’s mantle. We study samples collected by NASA missions and are involved with space exploration missions.


The deadline for applications is January 18th 2018 at 5 pm.
Interview dates will be held at the University of Manchester on 23rd February 2018.


PhD projects

Science of meteorites

Investigating the source of solar system dust
Supervisors: Dr Rhian Jones (SEES), Dr Susan Taylor (CRREL, New Hampshire, USA), Prof. Jamie Gilmour (SEES) 

Nanoscale U-Pb geochronology
Supervisors: Dr Romain Tartèse, Prof. Ian Lyon, Dr Katherine Joy

Antarctic Meteorite Science
Supervisors: Drs Katherine Joy, Rhian Jones and Russell Garwood (SEES), Dr Geoff Evatt (Maths)

Science of the Moon

Exploring the lunar regolith at the microscale
Supervisors: Dr Katherine Joy and Rhian Jones .** Please note that this project is funded by the Royal Society and both UK and EU candidates are eligible for the stipend and fee award. Please apply through the university system (see below) and also send a copy of your CV to Katherine Joy.**

Lunar Highlands Regolith Records
Supervisors: Dr Katherine Joy, Dr Romaine Tartèse, Prof. Jamie Gilmour, Dr. Greg Holland, Prof. Ray Burgess

Volatile history of the Moon
Supervisors: Prof. Mike Burton, Dr Katie Joy, Dr. Margherita Polacci, Dr. Giuseppe La Spina (University of Manchester), Dr Mattia de' Michielli Vitturi (INGV Pisa Italy)

Science of Mars

Fracturing the martian crust
Supervisors: Dr. Steve-Covey Crump (Manchester), Dr Paul Schofield (Natural History Museum, London), Dr. Katie Joy (Manchester) 

Analysis and Modelling of planetary atmospheres
Supervisors: Dr Paul Connolly, Dr Grant Allen, Prof Jamie Gilmour and Prof David Schultz




Suggest your own

The research projects described here should give you a taste of the topics and scope we cover. You can also see what our current students are studying by looking at the topics listed at the bottom of our group member page. We welcome project suggestions from prospective students, who should initially contact the appropriate research group to discuss the feasibility of their own ideas and identify a supervisor. Please get in touch with the School or contact the Isotope Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry research leaders directly. 

Further information

Please check the eligibility for RCUK STFC funding and note the residency rules regarding eligibility of stipend and fee support. Further information can be found here, and information about award finances can be found here.

For information about career paths related to completing a planetary science PhD please see here and the Royal Astronomical Society also has some useful information here. We also have a blog at Earth and Solar System about planetary science studies and internship opportunities. Our former students have pursued a wide range of further careers paths ranging from planetary science research careers located across the globe (UK, France, Canada, USA, Japan, Germany), teaching science in schools, working in the space tourism sector (Virgin Galactic), the UK Home Office, industry (drilling contractors, technical writer at mass spectrometer company) and in research council administration.

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