PhD Pioneers

This exhibition features the stories and experiences of twelve of the OU’s first PhD graduates from 1973-79. It focusses on their video interviews which took place between April and June 2021 during the world-wide Covid pandemic.

Image of PhD Pioneers
Thumbnail Content type Title Description Date
video preview image for The Open Forum 02 (1971) Introduction Video The Open Forum 02 (1971) IntroductionJames Barber introduces the Open Forum.1971
video preview image for The Brain Research Group Image The Brain Research GroupMembers of the Brain Research Group from the OU student newspaper Sesame.1975
video preview image for The Ballad Of Walton Hall Image The Ballad Of Walton HallRehearsals for "The Ballad of Walton Hall", which was written and produced by Peggy Aprahamian for...1977
video preview image for Professor Stephen Peake Image Professor Stephen PeakeProfile photograph of Professor Stephen Peake, Professor of Climate Change and Energy at The Open...2019
video preview image for PhD Pioneers Image PhD PioneersThe 12 interviewees of the PhD Pioneers oral history project...2021
video preview image for Open University Andean Volcanoes Project Image Open University Andean Volcanoes ProjectPeter Francis of the Open University Andean Volcanoes Project, working in the Andes Mountains on a...1974
video preview image for OU students Image OU students OU students, possibly a couple with their young son, working with home experiment kits in their home.1975
video preview image for OU Oman Project Image OU Oman ProjectA campsite in the Oman Mountains, part of a geological research project supported by OU researchers...1975
video record Video Neil Wynn's graduationNeil Wynn becomes the first Open University PhD student to graduate and is presented with his award...1973
video preview image for Jennie Lee at the first OU graduation ceremony Image Jennie Lee at the first OU graduation ceremonyJennie Lee at the first Open University graduation ceremony on 23 June 1973 when she was awarded an...1973
video preview image for Jeff Haywood demonstrates paper chromatography and high voltage electrophoresis Video Jeff Haywood demonstrates paper chromatography and high voltage electrophoresisTo analyse haemoglobin samples, Jeff Haywood demonstrates the techniques and results of using first...22 July 72
video record Video Introduction to PhD Pioneers exhibitionProfessor Lindsay O'Dell, Academic Director of the Graduate School at The Open University,...2021
video preview image for First OU Graduation Ceremony Image First OU Graduation CeremonyVC Walter Perry speaking at the first Open University graduation ceremony at Alexandra Palace on 23...1973
video preview image for Elizabeth Currie and Bill Morris Video Interview Image Elizabeth Currie and Bill Morris Video InterviewElizabeth Currie interviews Bill Morris for the oral history project, Looking Back, documenting the...2021
video preview image for Doreen Massey Image Doreen MasseyPortrait of Professor Doreen Massey
video preview image for Don Aldiss & Microscope Image Don Aldiss & MicroscopeGeology PhD student Don Aldiss looking into a microscope. More information on this can be found...
video preview image for Bill Morris & Globe Image Bill Morris & GlobeGeology PhD student Bill Morris posing with an inflatable globe. More information on this can be...c.1974
video preview image for A Brief History of Postgraduate Research Study Image A Brief History of Postgraduate Research StudyThis timeline demonstrates the history of postgraduate research study, as well as the rising...2021
video preview image for Video "you've got to become very self-reliant, or the ship will sink"Max Bramer compares working at the OU to other institutions, and shares his experiences with...2021
video preview image for Video "whatever it took to make the OU a success, it was all hands on deck"Jeff Haywood describes the opportunities available at the OU alongside studying for his PhD.2021
video preview image for Video "well, at this point I'm thinking this is Game Over"Bill Morris describes finishing his degree and sitting his external exam in Milton Keynes.2021
video preview image for Video "we had this new world, and then we also had the old world of Oxford"Julia Goodfellow describes her experiences at Oxford and the OU.2021
video preview image for Video "there was no sense of Higher Education at all in my family, none"Bill Morris describes his early education and first experiences with STEM.2021
video preview image for Video "there was even a Dutch/Belgian TV crew who came along at one point"Stephen Potter describes the experience of being in Milton Keynes during its development, and the...2021
video record Video "the other amazing thing was the group of people I found myself in amongst"Early PhD students Ken Richardson and Don Aldiss describe some of their memories working with...2021
video preview image for Video "the first ten years worth of history was played out on stage"Alfred Vella shares his memories of Walter Perry and the operetta The Ballad of Walton Hall.2021
video preview image for Video "the atmosphere was hurried and near-chaotic - I fitted in perfectly!"Stephen Potter describes his interview at Walton Hall in 1974 and his initial tour of the...2021
video preview image for Video "that lonely feeling of heavy burden of responsibility"Oliver Boyd-Barrett describes working on his dissertation and his interactions at Walton Hall.2021
video preview image for Video "so I was kicked out of school at 15 and went to work in a factory"Ken Richardson describes his early childhood and schooling in Newcastle upon Tyne and County Durham.2021
video preview image for Video "one thing that doing the PhD had taught me was the value of scholarship"Ken Richardson shares his memories of working on his PhD, and the politics surrounding The Open...2021
video preview image for Video "once the first graduates came out at the end of '72, the whole situation changed"Max Bramer describes how it felt to work and study at the OU in the early 1970s.2021
video preview image for Video "my interest in being an educator increased"Jeff Haywood describes the long-lasting impact of studying with The Open University and becoming an...2021
audio record of Audio "it's become increasingly recognised, and I made a small contribution to that I think"Joan Whitehead discusses a questionnaire she created for her PhD and the contribution she has made...2021
video record Video "it was extremely odd… to find a university in the middle of the Buckinghamshire countryside"Early PhD students Alfred Vella and Neil Wynn describe some of their earliest memories of arriving...2021
audio record of Audio "it was a school with a mission"Joan Whitehead shares her experiences of attending a comprehensive secondary school and being...2021
video preview image for Video "it felt like a kind of pioneering setting… it was a Wild West"Jeff Haywood shares his memories of what it was like to study at the OU in the 1970s.2021
video preview image for Video "in fact I was the first postgraduate student, I think, in the Faculty of Arts altogether"Neil Wynn describes the academic community at the OU during its first decade as a higher education...2021
video preview image for Video "he… basically told me to buy myself a plane ticket and head off to California"Don Aldiss describes his OU field research in Cyprus and the USA.2021
video preview image for Video "amazingly, I've actually still got a copy of the graduation programme"Max Bramer describes his graduation day at Alexandra Palace.2021
video preview image for Video "all cooking had to be done on a pressure cooker which we had in the back of the Land Rover"Michael Baker describes his experiences in Chile, working on the Open University Andean Volcanoes...2021
video preview image for Video "I… never stopped being drawn back into the fray of academic work"Oliver Boyd-Barrett describes working for The Open University and moving to the USA.2021
video preview image for Video "I think the OU is so part of my life, it's not just about my PhD"Julia Goodfellow describes the importance of the OU and her career at Birkbeck.2021