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The Start of the Journey

(page 1 of 3)

The historical context of The Open University PhD

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This timeline demonstrates the history of postgraduate research study, as well as the rising popularity of the PhD in the latter half of the twentieth century.
Image : A Brief History of Postgraduate Research Study
Date: 2021

A Brief History of the PhD

The Timeline opposite takes us on a brief journey of the development of the PhD resulting in the format we know in the U.K. today.

The first recorded doctorates offered were from the University of Paris in the 13th century, followed by German universities  and growing exponentially between the 16th and 18th centuries. In the U.K., the first research doctorate was offered by Oxford University in 1917 and other universities followed suit. In the 1970s, indeed up until the late 1980s, PhDs were very loosely managed and supervised. By the late 1980s, greater consistency of supervision quality and standards of study and examination were integral to the status of PhD study. Not until 1990 was the model of an MA or MRes followed by a 3-year full time PhD adopted in most universities, together with better training for supervisors and regular assessment of students’ work. Up until then, it was felt that a PhD took as much time as was necessary and many funded students did not even submit their thesis.

Click on See full record and open as a large image to view the timeline in full.

The Start of the Journey (page 1 of 3)