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An image to illustrate studying a research degree with The Open University.

Research degrees prospectus

Welcome to The Open University's research degrees prospectus website – designed to help you on your first steps towards a research career. 

OU research is recognised and renowned throughout the world. It engages with some of the major issues facing the world today; informs public opinion and policy, and promotes debate and engagement with questions of global importance. OU research is also central to the development of technologies and processes which will benefit future generations. The quality of our research and teaching speaks for itself: In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF2014), education at The Open University was ranked 2nd in the UK in terms of research power (which takes into account the quality of the submission and the number of people submitted). The work that was submitted to the REF has thus been endorsed as overwhelmingly world-leading and internationally excellent, with significant and wide-reaching impact, and located in an environment that supports world-leading quality research. These outstanding results cement our position as a world leader in education innovation.

We also recognise the importance of the student experience in enabling our postgraduate researchers to achieve their very best. The OU participates in the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES), a national benchmarking surveying run by the Higher Education Academy, and has consistently outperformed the sector for overall student satisfaction since we first took part in 2008. In 2015, 86% of OU postgraduate research students said they were satisfied with the quality of their research degree programme. We scored particularly highly with regards to supervision (89% satisfied), research skills (90% satisfied) and progress and assessment (86% satisfied). Eighty-five percent of OU respondents were confident they would complete their research degree within the expected timescale. Whilst The OU is proud of the excellent feedback through the survey, we are never complacent. If you are successful in applying to The OU, you will experience our commitment to continuous improvement. For example the outcomes of the PRES survey are analysed in detail and used to identify areas where our research degrees and thereby your experience can be improved even further.

An Open University doctoral degree is a prestigious qualification; it is a marker of exceptional talent and thirst for knowledge.  As well as a passport to a world of research, new knowledge and discovery, it is also an investment and a valuable asset that will increase your advantage in the job market. The OU offers academically rich and intellectually exciting research opportunities for full-time and part-time students, under a range of different study routes, to enable you to fulfil your potential.

If you choose a research degree at the OU, you will be supported in developing your research by academics with world class expertise and a strong publication record.  High quality induction events, training and support are given and our collection of online resources available to research students is outstanding.  You will join over 1000 postgraduate research students currently studying with the OU, some at our main campus in Milton Keynes and others around the globe and linked through our Affiliated Research Centre programme.

To find out more about the research degrees we offer, visit our page Degrees we offer. Funded studentships are advertised on our jobs page.

Your questions

For advice about applying for a research degree, or sponsoring a research student, send us an email or call +44 (0)1908 654882.