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Being an OU research student FAQs

Do I have to live in Milton Keynes?

Full-time students are required to live within an easily commutable distance of the Walton Hall campus in Milton Keynes, to ensure you can engage fully with your research and university life in general. You will be expected to come to the campus every day, to have regular contact with your supervisor(s), academic staff and other students, and to participate in induction and training activities. If in exceptional circumstances, you need to live further away you must obtain approval from the faculty to which you are applying and from the Graduate School for a residency waiver.

PhD: If you are applying for part-time study you will need to be resident in the UK for the duration of your studies. In exceptional circumstances this requirement can be waived if the University is satisfied that you can engage fully with your research. You would still be required to travel to the UK regularly at your own expense and to take your examination in the UK. Students who are based outside the UK or who do not meet the criteria to be considered a ‘Home’ or ‘EU’ student may be required to pay a higher fee. Please contact us for advice.

EdD: Students studying on the EdD programme can live anywhere in the world. You will be required to fund your own travel to the compulsory year 1 residential weekend in Milton Keynes. Similarly, you are required to fund your travel to the residential/day schools in years 2 and 3. EdD students are required also to fund attendance at their viva which will be held at the OU campus in Milton Keynes. Students who are based outside the UK or who do not meet the criteria to be considered a ‘Home’ or ‘EU’ student may be required to pay a higher fee. Please contact us for advice.

What support will I get?

As an OU student you will be assigned at least two supervisors who are usually University academic staff. Some students have an additional external supervisor. In exceptional cases, EdD students may be assigned two external supervisors.

Our supervisors draw on their own experience and expertise of the subject to guide you, and give encouragement and constructive critical advice. They will also advise you in the preparation of your written thesis. See Being an OU research student for more information.

You will also attend induction and training events, and you will be supported administratively by the Research Degrees Office. We have a Graduate School Network (GSN) where you can access resources to support your studies, and build up a virtual network of fellow students and research staff. EdD students have access to a dedicated EdD website where they can find resources, online seminars, forums and an area for submitting their work and receiving feedback from supervisors.

How much contact time/attendance is expected of me?

Full-time students are required to study for a minimum of 37 hours a week. See Research support – how it works in Being an OU research student for information on the meetings you will have with your supervisors. There are limits on the number of hours you are allowed to spend in paid work while you are a full-time research student.

Part-time students should normally expect to spend a minimum of 18.5 hours a week studying.

I am a non-EEA student. Can the OU sponsor me for a student visa?

Yes, UK Visas and Immigration has licensed The Open University to recruit and register non-EEA PhD students. We will ask you for some information about your circumstances on your application form and at interview. We will also check your documents when you register. If you are in the UK, or coming to the UK, on a dependants’ visa, we advise you to apply for a visa for yourself, to ensure you retain the right to remain in the UK for the duration of your study.

English Language Requirements

If you are not from a majority English-speaking country you will also need to demonstrate that your level of English speaking, reading, writing and listening is adequate for postgraduate study in line with the Research Degree Regulations.

Can I bring my dependants with me to the UK? Is there any support available?

Yes, within the rules set out by UK Visas and Immigration. See the Overseas students section of Being an OU research student.

Will I be able to go to conferences/present papers at conferences?

You will be encouraged to do so, as the ability to present your research and to receive constructive criticism are important skills to develop during your doctoral studies. See Being an OU research student.

What training will the OU provide in research methods?

The Open University provides a programme of training for the duration of your PhD studies in line with the Vitae framework. Additionally, you will receive training in developing discipline based skills, and you will have access to the PhD Skills website to support your training. See Being an OU research student.

EdD students are expected to have studied research methods at masters level (see the entry requirements). They have access to the Graduate School Network where there are additional training resources, and workshops are provided at the residential/day schools each year. In addition, a Researching Practitioner Development Framework is being developed and will be made available to you as soon as possible. EdD students who wish to pursue a research career in HE should also refer to the Vitae framework.

Can I study other OU courses?

Full- and part-time research students are eligible to study for an additional OU taught course, only as part of research degree training, following approval from your supervisors and head of discipline. Once approval has been given the supervisors will contact the research degrees team to register you on the chosen course. You may not study at any other University while you are registered as an Open University student.

What library facilities/access to databases etc. does the OU have?

For details, see the Research facilities section of Being an OU research student.

What IT facilities does the OU have?

For details, see the Research facilities section of Being an OU research student.

What experimental facilities does the OU have?

For details, see the Research facilities section of Being an OU research student.

What social clubs / activities are available at the OU and in MK?

For details, see Living in Milton Keynes and Life on campus in Being an OU research student.

Where can I get advice about living in MK?

Milton Keynes is a vibrant, busy city with a wide range of accommodation.  Although there is no student accommodation on campus, we can help you find a place to live, especially if you are an international student. If your application is successful, we will send you information about our accommodation advice service with your offer of a place. For more information on living in Milton Keynes see Being an OU research student.