Before you apply, we recommend that you seek advice from the academic contact for the research area you are interested in – please read our ‘How to apply’ page. In addition to a completed application form, we will normally require a research proposal. For advertised studentships, the advertisement will tell you what to send. A description of your suitability for the studentship, including information about your knowledge of the relevant literature and research methods, will normally be required.
The appropriate application form will tell you where to send your application. You should answer all the questions that apply to you, including the HESA data questions. If your application form is not completed in full, we will not be able to consider it.
If you wish to apply to undertake a Phd or MPhil at The Open University please click on the application form most appropriate to your circumstances from the list below:
If you are applying for a Doctoral Training Partnership Studentship, please check the specific guidelines for accompanying documentation and proposals etc. Anyone applying for a Grand Union DTP Studentship needs to complete an OU application form and also the Grand Union DTP ESRC Application form.
If a proposal is required for your chosen degree or studentship, it should be 600–1000 words in length, unless the area to which you are applying has specified otherwise, and should include:
- the topic or area to be investigated
- the issue, research question or hypothesis that is to be tested (if it can be defined at this stage)
- the likely methods and techniques to be used in the investigation
- the relationship of the proposed research to the published literature and current research in your field, and an indication of the contribution your thesis would make
- details of work you have already done in the proposed field
- your suitability as a researcher for the proposed project.
The proposal enables the academic staff responsible for selecting applicants to assess:
- your competence in the proposed field of study
- your ability to conduct a research programme independently
- the nature of the supervision required.
The following books offer useful advice about how to develop a research degree proposal:
- Dunleavey, P. (2003) Authoring a PhD Thesis: How to Plan, Draft, Write and Finish a Doctoral Dissertation (Palgrave Study Guides), Palgrave Macmillian ISBN 1403905843
- Walliman, N. (2005) Your Research Project: A Step-by-Step Guide for the First-Time Researcher, Sage Publications ISBN 1412901324
- Cryer, P. (2006) The Research Student’s Guide to Success, Third edition, Open University Press, ISBN 0335221173
If you are applying for an advertised studentship where the research topic has already been defined, instead of preparing a research proposal you should explain in writing why you are interested in the project and your suitability for the studentship. Please include information about your knowledge of the relevant literature and research methods. The advertisement will tell you if you need to send a proposal.
If you are applying for part-time study, you should say what resources you will need (such as library, laboratory, record offices, computing, surveys), what they will cost and the proposed source(s) of funding.