The Open University graduate student community forms an important part of the university's research culture. Students participate in the full range of on-campus research and are seen as valued members of the department. The Open University Research School offers a year-round programme of workshops, seminars and training for postgraduate students.
Members of the History department can supervise a wide range of topics based around our current areas of research expertise. These include:
The History department welcomes applications from suitably qualified candidates.
For admission to the PhD programme (full-time or part-time), the Department of History requires:
The Open University does not offer distance teaching for PhD students. The Research School guidance states that all 'MPhil and PhD students are normally required to be resident in the UK' in order to meet regularly with their supervisors. Exceptions are occasionally made for residents of Continental Europe and Ireland. Follow this link to read the guidance given in the Research School Prospectus.
Full-time History postgraduates have occasionally gained approval to live outside the Milton Keynes area because their residence was close to the major archives required for their topic.
If you meet these requirements, you are encouraged to contact the department directly (Arts-History-PG-Enquiries@open.ac.uk) or to write to individual academics in your proposed field who may be able to supervise the research you wish to pursue. A one-page curriculum vitae, a sample of your previous academic writing and a proposal of around 1,000 words would help us decide whether it would be worth your applying formally via the Research Office. Your proposal should indicate that you know what has already been written in the area you wish to investigate, how you will pursue the subject, and the sources you will use. A short bibliography is essential.
Follow this link for our advice about starting a History PhD thesis at The Open University. This describes the process involved in creating a proposal, what we look for in a successful applicant, what we look for in a research proposal, and links to an example of a successful research proposal.
We currently have twenty PhD students registered for full and part-time degrees. Find out what topics our current PhD students are researching.
All of our PhD students are provided with two supervisors for the duration of their studies. They will meet with you regularly and act as your academic advisors. They will provide guidance on your research topic, on the skills you will need to successfully complete your studies, on planning your research and on writing your thesis. They will read all your work and discuss it with you, helping you to develop your ideas and to think critically and independently about your topic. They will encourage you in your studies and give advice if things are not working according to plan. Look at the staff pages to find out more about the research we do and to identify potential supervisors.
Follow this link for the department’s advice on how to present your thesis [PDF, 174KB]. It includes detailed instructions on how to present references with plenty of examples.
Each year the Faculty of Arts may advertise, normally in early spring, a series of funded studentships (fees and maintenance). These are awarded on a competitive basis and typically match the grants received by students funded by the ESRC. We encourage you to apply for these when advertised. Any informal enquiries about these should be made to the Postgraduate Admissions Tutor, Professor James Moore (email: Arts-History-PG-Enquiries@open.ac.uk).
We are also happy to consider applications by self-funded students on either a full or part-time basis.
Informal enquiries about doing a PhD in History at the Open University should be sent in the first instance to our Postgraduate Admissions Tutor, Professor James Moore (email: Arts-History-PG-Enquiries@open.ac.uk).
Formal enquiries and applications should be made to the University’s Research School. A form is available in the downloadable Research Degrees Prospectus on the Research Degrees web site.
The department would like to offer its congratulations to to Alice Smalley, a History research student, who won the Arts category in the recent OU Postgraduate Poster Competition and goes forward to compete in the Midlands Hub final on 12 July. Her entry demonstrated the use of GIS to determine where crimes reported in the 19th-century illustrated Police News actually took place. Download Alice's poster [PDF, 2MB].