Research degrees
Being an OU research student
The OU Graduate School

The OU Graduate School

All research students are members of the Open University Graduate School, a hub for research skills training and support, as well as cross-University community. The Graduate School is there to:

  • welcome you to the University at your induction
  • guide you through your pre-upgrade training in core research skills
  • support you through your journey via online tools
  • enhance the research student community through initiatives and events that span the faculties
  • celebrate your successes
  • be your advocate across the University.


Our Graduate School hosts induction events in October and February, which are mandatory for new students.

They’ll give you the information you need to get started in your research, the opportunity to meet other new students and the University’s research community.

Each faculty also holds an induction into their own research community.

Research skills training and development

The general research skills training programme and development events provided by our Graduate School are designed to complement and support the training your faculty will provide. Typically, these sessions are provided face-to-face, and are streamed to a moderated online room and recorded for later access. Some of the topics covered include:

  • planning your research
  • managing your wellbeing
  • carrying out a literature review
  • progressing through your student journey
  • preparing for your viva.

All researchers will have the opportunity to access support in general writing and communication skills and Social Science researchers will have specialist training days in methodologies. Day schools also provide concentrated sessions popular with our part-time students.

Our training aligns with the Vitae Researcher Development Framework.

Online support

Your student journey will be managed via the bespoke PGR Manager platform. It also allows you to manage your skills and development planning, and book face-to-face and online training sessions, workshops and seminars.

You’ll also have access to a rich, expansive library of research skills development materials and guidance relating to other University services, such as the OU Library, Careers Service and the OU Students Association.


You’ll usually join an established research group when you start your studies. Joining an appropriate and supportive environment will help you build and establish your identity as an independent researcher.

There’s also a thriving online network: the PGR Community Microsoft Team has different support channels for, e.g. Final-year students and Part-time PGRs. The Team hosts weekly coffee mornings and other socials.

There are several exciting cross-University social events in the academic year. Aside from welcoming new research students at October and February inductions, we also hold an annual poster competition in June and a very special ‘Bake Your Research’ competition in November.

Get involved with the OU research community by following our Graduate School Facebook page, as well following our Twitter account @OUGradSch to follow our research student community triumphs and news.

As an OU student, you’ll automatically be a member of The Open University Students Association. The Association is the University’s representative body for all students. It encourages the formation of societies, clubs and groups, as well as providing social activities for its members and their families.

Bake Your Research: 'Building a Benthic Isotope Based Age-Model from My Bedroom' by Emmeline Gray, PhD Student, School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences

Career advice and development

Our research career development programme is open to all research staff and both part- and full-time research students. It combines targeted training, for those in the first half of their degrees, with events aimed at later-stage research students and early-career researchers.

Research students can also benefit from our Careers Advisory Service, which can help with career planning, CVs, applications and interviews, as well as offering careers webinars and forums.

Our Graduate School manages student internships in partnership with industry. These provide the opportunity for research students to develop valuable commercial skills, whilst contributing to the OU’s relationships with industrial partnerships.

Graduate School Network logo

The induction was very well organised and brought in lots of speakers and gave a really nice welcome … I was inspired and encouraged by it.

New research student, October 2020

Your questions

For advice about applying for a research degree, or sponsoring a research student, email the Graduate School or call +44 (0)1908 653806.