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  1. Research at the OU
  2. Research degrees

Research degrees

Visit our online prospectus to find out about registering for a research degree.

There are nearly 1,000 research students registered for postgraduate degrees with The Open University (OU). The benefits of conducting your research with us are:

Research reputation

We are global leaders in research and innovation.
  • The Research Excellence Framework 2014 assessed 72% of the OU research overall submission as world-leading or internationally excellent (4* or 3*)
  • We rank in the top third of UK universities for the quality of our research

Flexible study

We offer a range of research degrees. You can study for a PhD or MPhil on a full-time or part-time basis. The Doctorate in Education (EdD), which is a professional doctorate, is offered as a part-time degree only. 
Visit our online prospectus to find out about registering for a research degree.

Research support

Study with us and benefit from:

If you are registered as an OU student, the Graduate School Network is your gateway to online training and development resources.

The Open University Graduate School

The Open University Graduate School has been launched to build on the OU’s capacity to do teaching and research through creating a network to connect PhD students studying on campus and remotely. It will facilitate these connections through the Graduate School Network.

Global reach

Join a community of students spread over four continents.

Find out about OU collaborations with top-ranking institutions worldwide through our Affiliated Research Centre (ARC) Programme.

Inspiring supervisors

You will be supervised by academics who are leading experts in their fields.

The Higher Education Academy Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) 2015 revealed:

  • 83% of OU respondents were satisfied with the overall experience of their research degree programme (4% points above the sector)
  • 89% points of OU research degree student respondents are satisfied with their supervision (3% above the sector)
  • 90% points of OU research degree student respondents are satisfied with research skills development (3% above the sector)

Whilst the OU is proud of the excellent feedback through the survey, we are committed to continuous review and enhancement of our students’ experience.

Career development opportunities

We offer development opportunities for our staff and researchers at all stages of their careers. 

Research degree students benefit from our Graduate School Network which supports them through their studies and connects them to our online community of research students.

You will also be supported through our OU Careers Advisory Service.

Our postgraduate research students may also 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

Image of Emma SweeneyStudent view - Emma Claire Sweeney

Emma Claire Sweeney was working as an Associate Lecturer for the OU when she realised that if she wanted to get further in her writing career she would need to change something. She completed her PhD in Creative Writing at the OU and is now a published author with her PhD novel entitled Owl Song at Dawn.

Learn more about Emma's experience of studying at the OU

Image of Jack WrightStudent view - Jack Wright

Jack Wright developed an interest in geology while studying for a degree in natural sciences at the University of Cambridge, which he decided to take further after graduation. He discovered that a number of PhD projects in space science were being offered by the OU and is now working on a geological map of the Hokusai quadrangle, one of fifteen quadrangles on Mercury.

Learn more about Jack's experience of studying at the OU

Image of Leanne GunnStudent view - Leanne Gunn

Leanne Gunn completed a PhD in volcanology in 2014, and wrote a paper introducing a model for predicting the duration of future volcanoes. She now works at science made simple, a social enterprise with a passion for science and all things associated with it.

Learn more about Leanne’s experience of studying at the OU

Image of Shanta EveringtonStudent view - Shanta Everington

Shanta Everington became a published author as result of her MA in Creative Writing and is now working on a PhD entitled The Other Mothers, which she aims to publish as a creative non-fiction book.

Learn more about Shanta's experience of studying at the OU


Image of Vibha SrivastavaStudent view - Vibha Srivastava

Vibha Srivastava has always wanted to be an astronaut and work in space science, which wasn’t straightforward as a young women from North East India.. Vibha is dedicated to research and is developing technologies that will enable humans to 3D-print structures such as habitats, landing/launching pads and instruments on the Moon from lunar soil.

Learn more about Vibha's experience of studying at the OU