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Doctoral training partnerships

Doctoral training partnerships

The Open University is proud be a member of a number of Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) and Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) across a variety of areas of research excellence.

DTPs and CDTs provide a structured training environment for cohorts of students who are studying research degrees within disciplinary or thematically cognate areas.

Pooling our experience and resources with other universities, research organisations and industry partners, we are developing the research leaders of the future, equipping them with the skills and knowledge to work at the cutting edge of research to address real world problems.

Why do universities and organisations partner with the OU?

  • Widening participation and social justice: The OU brings a diverse range of students from a variety of backgrounds and experiences.
  • Cohort-building experience: We have run long lasting DTP/CDT partnerships and other collaborations.
  • Comprehensive training opportunities: Partnership students get access to the OU Graduate School’s unique core training programme (face-to-face, streamed and recorded) and wide-ranging online doctoral training resources.

The Open University is a truly national teaching and research university with a mission to be ‘open to people, places, methods and ideas’.

We are a world leader in open learning, currently serving around 174,000 students on our taught courses and many millions of learners through our television productions and extensive web presence.

The OU has a strong, enduring collaboration with the BBC based on academic input into programming and co-funding/co-production across television, radio and internet.

Our current partners

Here are some examples of The Open University’s current partnerships:

Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership

Partners: University of Oxford and University of Cambridge

The Open University is pleased to offer Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funding through the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership (OOC DTP). The DTP is a consortium of three universities underpinned by world-class research and training environments, supported by strategic partnerships with the BBC World Service, the National Trust and British Telecom.

The Open-Oxford-Cambridge DTP will be awarding more than 385 AHRC-funded PhD studentships over a five-year period. AHRC PhD studentships are available to UK and EU residents via The Open University across all three AHRC subject classifications: ‘Histories, Cultures and Heritage’, ‘Creative and Performing Arts’, and ‘Languages and Literature’.

The Open University is internationally recognized for innovative research across the Arts and Humanities. We host a number of major AHRC- and ESRC-funded research projects. We have a strong commitment to cross-disciplinary work, to national and international public engagement, and to creative partnerships with a range of non-university partners.

Centre for Doctoral Training in Nuclear Energy Futures

Partners: Imperial College London, University of Cambridge, University of Bristol and Bangor University

The Open University is a partner in the £6.2M Doctoral Training Centre (CDT) in Nuclear Energy Futures, funded by The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Centre (EPSRC), to train PhD students to become a new generation of experts for the nuclear energy sector. In total, it is expected that the scheme will produce over 70 PhD graduates (40 EPSRC funded and 33 promised from industry) over eight years. The first cohort of PhD students started in October 2019.

Academic partners are some of the UK's leading institutions for research and teaching in nuclear power: Imperial College London (lead) and University of Cambridge, University of Bristol and Bangor University. The programme has the financial and scientific support of the nuclear industry, including EDF Energy, Rolls-Royce, National Nuclear Laboratory, Tokamak Solutions and UK Atomic Energy Authority/Culham Centre for Fusion Energy.

As well as undertaking research at OU facilities, PhD students will be trained through a series of online blended learning courses produced with OU’s distance learning expertise. The courses produced by the OU (in the subject areas of Nuclear Fuel Cycle, Waste and Decommissioning; Policy and Regulation; Innovations in Nuclear Technology; Materials for Reactor Systems; Nuclear Safety Management; and Reactor Design and Operation) will also be used more widely than just the CDT and support both industry continual professional development and the new Level 8 Apprenticeship schemes for the Nuclear Industry.

Central England NERC Training Alliance

Partners: University of Birmingham, University of Leicester, Loughborough University, University of Warwick, Cranfield University, British Geological Survey and Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

The Central England NERC Training Alliance (CENTA) is a consortium of universities and research institutes who work together to provide excellence in doctoral research training within the remit of the Natural Environment Research Council.

CENTA encompasses research activities within three broad themes:

  • Climate and Environmental Sustainability
  • Organisms and Ecosystems
  • Dynamic Earth.

These themes cut across 20 academic departments within the 6 universities, as well as across 4 NERC research organisations. Our partnership reflects both the multidisciplinary nature and excellence of our research and the high numbers of researchers in central England who span the breadth of the NERC remit. A critical mass of researchers in close geographic proximity is one of our great strengths. It facilitates shared access to facilities and training and helps to build a strong cohort identity.

Training in CENTA is supported systematically by end-users from industry to non-governmental organisations and governmental agencies.

The Grand Union: Excellence and innovation in social science research training

Partners: University of Oxford and Brunel University London

The Grand Union DTP is an ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership uniting The Open University, the University of Oxford and Brunel University London.

The partnership builds on the recognised research and doctoral training strengths of all three institutions. The partnership is committed to a student-centred approach to research training, to widening access to postgraduate study, and to disciplinary and interdisciplinary research excellence. It is proud of the support it gives its community of scholars and works hard to give them every opportunity to develop as future researchers and professionals.

The DTP covers 24 subject areas (‘pathways’), including the following OU pathways, all of which have a strong emphasis on socially-engaged research:

  • Citizenship
  • Development Policy and Practice
  • Geography
  • Innovation in Learning
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Psychology
  • Leadership and Organisational Governance.
Research student with mobile phone looking up options

Interested in applying for a funded studentship via our Doctoral Training Partnerships?

Find out more about the application process.

I’d heard about Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) and liked the idea of getting both academic and industry experience, a broad range of training opportunities, working across disciplines and…well, here I am!

Vicky Bowskill
Vicky BowskillPhD Student, School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences

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.