Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) PhD Studentship in Educational Technology

Applications are invited for a fully funded 3-year PhD studentship, funded by GCRF QR Grant, from April 2019.

Project Title How do laboratory professionals in public health facilities in low-middle income countries learn to tackle a global challenge?
Key words Educational research; professional learning; antimicrobial resistance; technology-enhanced learning;
Supervisory team PI: Professor Allison Littlejohn, Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University (

Co-I: Dr Koula Charitonos, Institute of Educational Technology. The Open University (

What does the studentship include? Full funding for PhD studentship will include fees and a maintenance grant (expected rate £14800) as well as a Research Training Support Grant of £2,500 p.a. and Fieldwork costs of £5,000 p.a. for three years, depending on satisfactory progress.
Is the PhD suitable for part time study? No
Closing date Sunday 6th January 2019 at 00:00 (midnight)
Eligibility This funding is only available to candidates from developing countries on the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list ( )

Project Highlights:

  • Explore how laboratory professionals in public health facilities in LMICs perceive and tackle the global challenge of antimicrobial resistance
  • Investigate a real-world environment to understand how healthcare professionals in LMICs can be supported in their work
  • Assessing the role(s) that technology plays in supporting learning about antimicrobial resistance


Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) poses a catastrophic threat on a global scale. Drug resistant infections are already on the rise with numbers suggesting that globally at least 700,000 die each year of drug resistance in illnesses such as bacterial infections, malaria, HIV/AIDS or tuberculosis. In response to this, the UK Department of Health & Social Care launched the Fleming Fund, a large-scale investment from UK Aid, to support low-and-middle income countries (LMICs) to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR) through a One Health approach. £250 million is the investment of the UK Government over five years. The Open University is a grantee of the Fleming Fund over the period 2017-2022, in a partnership between the Institute of Educational Technology and the International Development Office (led my Mott MacDonald and DHSC).

This PhD studentship, situated within the existing international development work the OU is undertaking (2017-2022), will seek to explore what it means to strengthen capacity within laboratories established by the Fleming Fund in AMR surveillance networks. It will investigate how professionals in public health facilities learn on-the-job to address the global challenge of rising drug resistance and also critically examine interventions that will introduce use of technology in these settings to support learning and new work practices. This research is critical in supporting professionals who now have to work in complex environments while dealing with life-threatening conditions. This PhD studentship will look at organisational learning, focusing on the ways knowledge is mobilised to respond to major challenges and placing attention on how professionals learn new knowledge and skills, which is of critical importance in meeting the requirements of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Action Plan. This is particularly acute for many developing countries where less attention has been placed on opportunities for workplace learning.

The doctoral research will look to address questions such as:

  • What do laboratory professionals consider to be learning?
  • What is evidence of learning, and how is it used to improve health systems?
  • Would a deeper understanding of models and workplace pedagogies enable the Open University and other institutions to work better to provide capacity building in health systems?
  • How do local AMR knowledge eco-systems function and interact with national and global systems?

These questions are important at both conceptual and practical levels. We need to understand evidence landscapes that already exist in LMICs to be able to target engagement appropriately and to develop strong research and practice partnerships and practices that will complement and reinforce work focused on AMR.


  • Students should have a strong background in Educational research or practice and enthusiasm for technology enhanced learning and research in development contexts.

Applications must include:

  • a Cover Letter outlining why the project is of interest and how your skills are well suited to the project. This part should also provide an outline of the approach you intend to use and how this will fit the proposed topic and the problem you are addressing (up to 1500 words)
  • an Academic CV containing contact details of two academic references
  • and an Open University Application Form. Please use the form downloadable here:

Applications should be sent to by 00:00 (midnight) on Sunday 6th January 2019

Interviews are likely to take place the week commencing Monday 14th/21st January 2019.

The successful candidate is expected to enroll on the PhD programme in April 2019

Please contact for queries about the application process. Questions about the studentship can be made to Dr Koula Charitonos ( or Prof Allison Littlejohn (