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How to apply for an OU research degree

How does the application process work?

Most of our degree places are allocated in a competitive process.  

Different faculties have different entry requirements and timescales for selecting research students. You should look at the relevant pages of website to find out about the application process for the academic area you are interested in or contact us for advice about applying. The application process for specific studentships is described in the relevant advertisement on the OU jobs website.

You will need to download and complete an Application form, and in most cases, submit a research proposal which describes the research you would like to undertake. Your application and proposal will be assessed by a team of academic staff and you may be invited for an interview, either in person at the Milton Keynes campus or by phone or by videoconference. We will assess if your research topic and proposal are a good fit with the University’s research priorities, and if we have staff available with expertise in your area of study who could supervise you. To ensure you have the best possible chance of success, we recommend that you read the information on our website and speak to a member of staff in the relevant academic department before you apply. Contact details are given on each of the Research topics pages of this website. Please make sure you complete your application form in full, and send us all the additional documents we ask for, otherwise we will not be able to consider your application.

We recruit and select students according to the fair selection principles defined in the QAA Quality Code for Higher Education, Chapter B11. You can read more about the Quality Code in our Research Degree Student Handbook.

What support do you provide for people with disabilities?

We welcome applications from students with disabilities and additional requirements and can offer a wide range of support services and facilities to enable you to succeed in your studies. You may be eligible for a Disabled Students’ Allowance for help with study costs. For guidance, see the section ‘If you have a disability or additional requirements’ on the How to apply web page.

You can also visit the University’s Services for disabled students website.

Please tell us on your application form, or at interview, if you think you might need support.

When can I start my Research Degree?

PhD and MPhil students may start in October or February, to gain full advantage of the induction and training events taking place. Students on the EdD (Doctorate in Education) programme must start on 1st May.

When will I know the outcome of my PhD application?

This depends on the timing of your application. See How to apply.

Who can give me advice about applying for a research degree at The Open University?

Guidance is given in How to apply. For more information, please contact the Research Degrees Team by email or telephone +44 (0)1908 654882. For academic advice, please contact the academic staff for the research area you are interested in.

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.