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Research project

This research module builds on your existing postgraduate diploma to enable you to complete your MSc. You’ll design a research proposal by identifying and developing a research problem relevant to your MSc. Your research will involve a literature review, original data collection, data analysis and the drawing of conclusions. You will then communicate the outcome of your research by writing up and submitting your dissertation. Support is available to you at every stage from the study materials, your supervisor and online forums. You will need to complete preparatory work before the module start, therefore early registration is strongly recommended.


T802 is a compulsory module in our:

 T802 is an optional module in our:

This module can also count towards F05, F13, F26, F37, F42 and F43, which are no longer available to new students.

Some postgraduate qualifications allow study to be chosen from other subject areas. We advise you to refer to the relevant qualification descriptions for information on the circumstances in which this module can count towards these qualifications because from time to time the structure and requirements may change.

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.


Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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What you will study

The module provides an opportunity to pursue research in a topic of your choice based within the broad area of your MSc study. Undertaking the research will enable you to:

  • investigate in depth an issue or problem of professional relevance to yourself and which may also be of relevance to an organisation such as an employer, institution or public body
  • develop your knowledge of recent research in your chosen topic
  • become competent in research methods appropriate to your research topic
  • develop the capacity to plan, organise and carry out an extended independent study at masters level
  • develop skills in the written communication of research work at masters level.

During your study of this module you will learn how to:

  • develop a research proposal
  • carry out a literature search and write a critical state-of-art review
  • select suitable research methods and integrate them within a research methodology
  • carry out research processes
  • analyse results to form conclusions
  • write-up your research in the form of reports (assignments) and a dissertation.

Your research topic will depend very much on your own knowledge and experience and on the modules you took in your diploma, and must be in an appropriate area relating to the subject of your MSc. A supervisor will be appointed to help you develop a formal proposal appropriate for MSc-level work and advise you throughout the research phase.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will be assigned a supervisor with broad knowledge and skills relevant to your research topic. Your supervisor will advise you during the initial stage of developing a research proposal. You will submit an initial proposal three weeks after module start and then begin the process of refining this over the ensuing two months. You will be required to produce at least three iterations of the proposal prior to the deadline for final submission of proposals. This deadline is approximately three months after module start. Your supervisor will then continue to support you throughout the rest of your research.

You will also have access to our online forums. Communication with your supervisor will be mainly through email and telephone. You are encouraged to plan your communication with your supervisor to suit your research plan.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register


The assessment details can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper. The final dissertation (EMA) must also be submitted online.

Your research proposal has to be approved before you can continue to the research phase. In the research phase you will submit three assignments (TMAs) at intervals of approximately three months.

We expect you to submit your assignments online through the eTMA system. The submission date for the dissertation will be during the final month of the 12-month period of the module.

Course work includes

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Future availability

The details given here are for the module starting in October 2015 and February 2016. We expect it to be available twice a year.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

Entry requirements

You must already hold a postgraduate diploma in the relevant programme. Some of these qualifications have time limits for completion, please see the individual qualification descriptions for details.

You also need to have declared your intention to study one of the qualifications listed below.

You can register for a place while you are completing the final module of your diploma or at any time after successful completion, taking account of any time limits for these qualifications. Your module fee is fully refundable if you withdraw before the module start date.

Before module start you will need to decide whether you wish to propose your own topic or select a topic from a list of suggested topics put forward by OU academic staff. Please note that the OU staff topics may not be available in every subject area.

Note: in the case of the MSc in Environmental Decision Making, MSc in Environmental Management, MSc in Systems Thinking in Practice and the MSc in Technology Management there are two routes to your MSc. If you prefer a more business-oriented MSc, you should consider taking The MSc professional project (T847), a 30-credit module lasting six months, instead of this module. Both project modules offer a rigorous approach to solving complex real world problems and enable you to gain essential skills for undertaking research in your own organisation or wider contexts. The study for T847 is of reduced scope in comparison with this module, with the necessary constraints this implies, but does offer the flexibility to complete your qualification with a further 30-credit module. The longer study for this module (T802) allows more depth and develops your academic research skills further.

If you are studying towards more than one masters degree, you will need to complete a separate project for each qualification.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

Preparatory work

You will need to be prepared well before the module begins; you will be asked to provide a synopsis of your research topic so that we can allocate you to an appropriate supervisor. Early registration is strongly advised due to the preparatory work required prior to the start of the module.

To help you in your preparation we have developed the Preparing for T802 website; this is an important resource because of the specific requirements before module start. This site can be accessed via the T802 Future Studies forum on the Postgraduate Technology and Computing (PTC) Office website. Current students have a link to this from their StudentHome page. The T802 preparatory website is available to any student who is currently undertaking, or has undertaken, a postgraduate taught module. 


Start End England fee Register
01 Oct 2015 Oct 2016 -

Registration now closed

01 Feb 2016 Apr 2017 £2316.00

Registration closes 30/11/15 (places subject to availability)

This module is expected to start for the last time in February 2020.

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

Ways to pay

We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options. To find out more see Fees and funding.

Study materials

What's included

Learning material is provided. This is entirely web-based although it is possible for you to print out material should you so wish. Online databases for literature searching will be accessible via the OU Library website. You will need to use online forums for the research proposal development stage.

You will need

Use of the internet for: access to the dedicated website, submission of your tutor-marked assignments (eTMAs) and your final dissertation (EMA), access to our online library services including bibliographical databases to help you identify academic sources in your chosen topic area and access to the online forums.

There are no set books but you may need books relevant to the research methodology you use. Note that useful material can be obtained without cost from semi-permanent online sources.

You may find that some of the topics/subject areas require you to have access to and run additional software packages. If you choose such a topic you may need a machine with a higher specification than indicated in the standard computer specification.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as the study materials and activities are accessible via a web browser. Any other computer-based activities you will need to carry out, such as word processing, using spreadsheets, taking part in online forums, and submitting files to the university for assessment, are specified in the module materials. If any additional software is needed for these tasks it will either be provided or is freely available.

We recommend either of the following:

  • Windows desktop or laptop computer running Windows 7 or later operating system
  • Macintosh desktop or laptop computer running OS X 10.7 or later operating system.

A netbook, tablet, smartphone or Linux computer that supports one of the browsers listed below may be suitable. The screen size should be at least 1024 (H) x 768 (W) pixels. If you intend to use one of these devices please ensure you have access to a suitable desktop or laptop computer in case you are unable to carry out all the module activities on your mobile device.

We recommend a minimum 1 Mbps internet connection and any of the following browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 9 and above
  • Apple Safari 7 and above
  • Google Chrome 31 and above
  • Mozilla Firefox 31 and above.

Note: using the latest version for your browser will maximise security when accessing the internet. Using company or library computers may prevent you accessing some internet materials or installing additional software.

See our Skills for OU study website for further information about computing skills for study and educational deals for buying Microsoft Office software.

If you have a disability

You need to consider if there are any constraints in obtaining the type of information you need for your research. Otherwise, there are no further constraints beyond those encountered in obtaining your diploma.

The core teaching material for this module will be delivered online via the module website, so you will need to spend considerable amounts of time using a personal computer and the internet. If either your sight or manual dexterity is seriously impaired, you may find using the web challenging. If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in using a computer or the internet and have concerns about accessing this type of material you are advised to contact us about support that can be given to meet your needs.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.