Master of Philosophy (MPhil)

What is an MPhil?

An MPhil is an advanced postgraduate research degree. It is ideal for students who are not able to commit to the period of study required for doctoral research.

What will I get from an MPhil?

You will gain a significant grounding in research methods and skills that will equip you either to enter a career as a professional in your field, or to continue in your studies to complete a PhD. You will get a huge sense of personal achievement. Our training programmes will help you develop transferable skills that will be invaluable in your subsequent career. The research techniques and methodologies you master will enable you to make a direct contribution to the advancement of knowledge in your particular subject area.

After exploring The Open University online prospectus, you may wish to visit Vitae: researcher careers. Vitae is the UK organisation championing the personal, professional and career development of researchers.

How does it work?

Duration and pattern of study

An MPhil may be offered on either a full-time or a part-time basis, with a maximum study period of 48 months for full-time study or 72 months for part-time study.


Once you have completed your research you must write a 60,000-word thesis, which you submit and then defend via an oral examination (a viva). The thesis will demonstrate your proficiency in research methods, your knowledge and understanding, and a critical evaluation of your academic subject area. Your thesis must meet the expectations specified in the Quality Code.

Entry requirements

Applicants should normally hold, or be expecting to obtain, a bachelors degree with at least first or upper-second class honours, or an equivalent qualification. However, entry requirements differ between academic areas, and sometimes a taught masters degree is also required. The research topic pages (within research areas) give details of specific entry requirements, and provide contact details to discuss your suitability for the MPhil.

English language proficiency

In order to study with us, you will need to have a good command of English. If your first language is not English, you will need to demonstrate your competence in the English Language in all four elements (reading, writing, listening and speaking). The University requires a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any of the four categories (or approved equivalent). You should have your level of proficiency certified through a provider approved by UK Visas and Immigration and provide your certificate and grade with your application.

Application closing date

Entry may be permitted for direct registration with The Open University at the following points of year: October and February. This ensures that students benefit from development and training in peer groups.

For further information on how to apply see our Application process section. Application deadlines may differ between research topics and studentships; full information about the application period for the topic you’re interested is detailed in the research topic pages (within research areas).

Walton Hall Campus, Milton Keynes.

Walton Hall Campus, Milton Keynes.


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.