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Research degrees

The OU offers the following research degrees:

The PhD and MPhil can be studied on a full-time or a part-time basis. The EdD is only available for part-time study.

Visit our online prospectus to find more information on the opportunities available and how to apply for a research degree.

Why do your research degree at the OU?

The OU is a global leader in research and innovation, ranking in the top third of UK universities for the quality of our research.

In the Research Excellence Framework 2014 72% of the OU research overall submission was assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent (4* or 3*).

If you choose to do your research degree with us you will be supervised by academics who are leading experts in their disciplines. You will have access to  laboratories with state-of-the-art equipment for research into space, the environment, brain activity, music and more, as well as our world-leading online technical support and library facilities.

The OU Graduate School: supporting research students across the OU

The OU Graduate School supports and defines a global community of over 900 research students at the OU, registered either via the main campus at Walton Hall or at one of the Affiliated Research Centres.

It does this by:

  • Acting as a hub for the research student community: promoting engagement between researchers face-to-face and online, facilitated by the Graduate School Network website and social media (see us on Facebook and Twitter)
  • Ensuring skills training that translates to successful completion and employment: defining high-quality generic and specialist training pathways to support students regardless of mode or location
  • Developing internal and external partnerships: working internally with academics to sustain a rich developmental research environment, and articulating the value the OU brings to external partnerships such as doctoral training partnerships and international training networks.

The Higher Education Academy Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) 2018 revealed:

  • 84% of OU respondents were satisfied with the experience of their research degree programme.
  • 88% of OU respondents are satisfied with their supervision.
  • 88% of OU respondents are satisfied with research skills development.

The OU is proud of the excellent feedback through the PRES survey. We remain committed to continuous review and enhancement of our students’ experience.

Career opportunities

You will also be supported through our OU Careers Advisory Service and can take the opportunity to gain experience of working in business or industry, by undertaking an internship. Our internships are three-month, full-time placements within a company, working on a specific project relevant to the postgraduate's area of expertise.

Student views

Emma Claire Sweeney

I thought the OU would be the perfect place to do my PhD because of all of the research generated there and I knew my supervisors would be great mentors.

Read more Emma Claire Sweeney, PhD student
Jack Wright

What gets me out of bed in the morning is knowing that I am producing something new, a map of a planet we do not know very much about, and in particular of an area that has not been looked at in any close detail by human beings until now.

Read more JackWright, PhD student
Leanne Gunn

I feel proud to have completed my PhD. OU study has definitely changed me as a person. I’m much more confident at writing and presenting. I’m self-motivated and my managers know that they can trust me to get my work done.

Read more Leanne Gunn, PhD student
Shanta Everington

My end aim is for my PhD narrative to be published as a creative non-fiction book... the OU has launched Part 1 of the new MA in Creative Writing, which I’ve been appointed to lecture on which is really exciting. Hopefully, the PhD will enhance my future teaching opportunities as well as impacting on my writing career.

Read more Shanta Everington, PhD student
Vibha Srivastava

The OU has given me a great opportunity to work in a field I am interested in. It keeps my spirits high and keeps me going. I really am very happy and very grateful. Wherever I have studied, it has given me a broader perspective about people around the world, which I really enjoy.

Read more Vibha Srivastava, PhD student

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As The Open University celebrates its 50th anniversary, Mark Brandon, Professor in Polar Oceanography, delivered his inaugural lecture on the polar oceans and global climate and looked ahead to what could happen during the next 50 years.

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