The Open University is currently recruiting for DTP studentships in several areas.
The Grand Union DTP is an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Doctoral Training Partnership that unites 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 DTP covers 23 subject areas (‘pathways’), themed into five broad clusters. Different pathways offer students opportunities to:
- undertake a research masters, followed by a PhD (known as ‘1+3’, ‘2+2’ or ‘2+3’ routes)
- enter directly onto a PhD, having already completed appropriate masters-level training (‘+3’)
- undertake doctoral study over a longer period (‘+4’) in order to gain master-level training and skills in a flexible and personalised way, meeting individual students’ needs.
All OU pathways are available for students studying part time as well as those studying full time.
These studentships are funded by the ESRC Grand Union Doctoral Partnership. They’re fully funded for 4 years full time or 8 years part time, covering tuition fees (at UK/EU level) and a stipend. Learn more about Grand Union funding support.
How to apply
Studentships for the 2025 academic year are advertised on the OU Studentship pages. Applications must be submitted by 12:00 on 11 January 2025.
OU Training Pathways
Development Policy and Practice Pathway – Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The Open University
This pathway draws on the OU’s research excellence in Development Policy and Practice (DPP). Many students come to this pathway with some work experience in development and related professions and use this prior knowledge to inform their doctoral research and knowledge exchange activities.
DPP at the OU challenges 'top-down' and aid-driven development policy models and promotes research into more participatory and inclusive approaches. In particular, its approach to 'inclusive innovation' focuses attention on how technological, economic and social innovations in food, health, and education systems can bring benefits to marginalised groups. Underpinning this pathway is a history of research in DPP on sustainable energy infrastructures, migration, security, heritage, sustainability, climate change, and the political dimensions of development, all with a strong orientation to policy and practice.
DPP is the OU’s main centre for international development research and teaching and is also the hub for the University’s inter-faculty Innovation, Knowledge and Development activity. Additionally, DPP is joint home to the Innogen Institute (with the University of Edinburgh), which promotes research into the social and economic impact of innovation in the life sciences. Therefore, students have access to academic researchers across the University and to a wide range of networks in policy and practice.
Find out more about the Development Policy & Practice Pathway.
Geography Pathway – Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The Open University
The Geography & Environmental Studies Department at The Open University has a record of producing innovative research and teaching in both human and environmental geography. Research is conducted through the OpenSpace Research Centre, which encourages a vibrant research environment, drawing on research expertise both within and beyond The Open University and academia.
Find out more about the Geography Pathway.
Health and Wellbeing Pathway – Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies, The Open University
Achieving good health and supporting wellbeing for all is essential to achieving social justice, and this lies at the heart of the Open University’s mission. We have expertise in and place value on participatory and inclusive research, with a particular focus on groups that are marginalised, ‘hard to reach’ or have complex needs. We welcome proposals for research that locates the experiences of service users, ‘patients’, carers, family members and practitioners at the fore of inquiry. The pathway will equip students to address health and wellbeing as complex, dynamic and fluid phenomena across the life course and to use established and innovative social research methodologies to address these challenges.
Applications are invited on one or more of the following themes:
- ageing and later life
- children, young people, parenting and families
- death, dying and bereavement
- disability and long-term conditions
- reproductive and sexual health
- care and caring
- mental health
Find out more about the Health and Wellbeing Pathway.
Innovation in Learning Pathway – Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies, The Open University
Innovation in learning embodies a wide diversity in research, including creative learning and teaching in formal, non-formal and informal contexts, understanding children and young people’s worlds, intercultural communicative competence, academic and digital literacies, language learning, mobile and ubiquitous learning, citizen engagement, open education practices, issues of inclusion, social justice and well-being, and research into addressing real-world problems of learning in contexts of disadvantage and ill-health. It also includes new disciplines such as learning analytics and new fields of inquiry such as learning futures and performance augmentation.
The pathway offers opportunities for collaborative, participatory and interdisciplinary research, alongside research in technology-enhanced learning. Educational research relevant to this pathway sits within the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS), which is home to the UK’s only Regius Professor in Open Education, the Institute of Educational Technology, the Centre for Literacy and Social Justice, the Children’s Research Centre and the new Centre for the Study of Global Development. WELS is also home to the OU's largest group of postgraduate research students and offers an inclusive and cohesive research community.
Find out more about the Innovation in Learning Pathway.
Organisation, Leadership and Governance Pathway – Faculty of Business and Law, The Open University
The Organisation, Leadership and Governance pathway draws on the OU’s wide-ranging expertise in the fields of organisational studies, ethical leadership, governance, and sustainability. Sitting within the Business School (OUBS) and supported by our Law School, this expertise and knowledge informs and is informed by the OU’s Open Societal Challenges programme, because organisational practices are simultaneously the problem and potential solution to contemporary global crises.
Faculty academics publish in internationally recognised peer-reviewed journals. Expertise, including supervisory and mentoring experience, is available in many pathway-related topics such as gender, leadership, precarious work, the refugee experience, post-COVID working arrangements, as well as human trafficking, digital vulnerability in the financial sector, gamification, economic citizenship and governance, and renewable energy entrepreneurship.
The pathway draws upon four main research centres that enhance its research environment: the Centre for Policing Research and Learning (CPRL), the Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership (CVSL), Research into Employment, Empowerment and Futures (REEF) and the Law School’s Open Justice Centre (OJC). In addition, smaller Research Clusters provide PhD students and postdoctoral fellows with opportunities to share specific theoretical knowledge within supportive internal and external networked alliances. For example, Gendered Organisational Practice (GOP) has hosted a series of ‘how to write about gender’ workshops facilitated by a world-renowned gender expert, which PhD students and academics attended.
Find out more about the Organisation, leadership & Governance Pathway.
Psychology Pathway – Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The Open University
Psychology is a key component in all aspects of social life. Questions about how individuals think, feel and act and how these relate to wider social, cultural, economic and societal issues lie at the heart of studying Psychology. It explores principles of human behaviour that link the social sciences. For example, investigations of the role of learning and memory in education, individual and group decisions in financial and political systems, perception and decision-making in legal contexts, or inter-group conflict arising from public policy or migration. At the same time, as an empirical science, Psychology forms a critical bridge from economic and social research to the natural and medical sciences, both in methodology and academic scope.
The School of Psychology and Counselling at The Open University has a vibrant research culture that is noted to be an international leader in transdisciplinary and applied research. Our School houses three research streams: i) Culture and Social Psychology (CuSP); ii) Psychology of Health and Wellbeing (PHeW), and iii) the Forensic Cognition Research Group (FCRG), which form part of the Open Psychology Research Centre (OPRC). Psychology at The Open University produces psychological research that seeks to understand, transform and enrich the lives of individuals and communities by foregrounding methodological and theoretical pluralism with a commitment to social justice. Students will be equipped to examine complex psychological phenomena as they unfold as part of social practices in real settings.
Using established, innovative and creative social science research methodologies, students will develop research to address wider societal challenges. Postgraduate students play a central role in developing new ideas with a contemporary focus, examining the impact of exceptional and everyday situations through a psychological lens. The School of Psychology and Counselling provides students with first-class training and resources which will enable them to be future research leaders in distinctive and emergent social practices constituting and transforming everyday lives.
Find out more about the Psychology Pathway.
Social Justice and Inequalities Pathway – Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The Open University
The Social Justice and Inequalities pathway provides a rigorous interdisciplinary framework for exploring the complexities of inequality and injustice at both national and international levels. Based in the School of Social Sciences and Global Studies (SSGS), this pathway is closely aligned with the new Global Challenges and Social Justice (GCSJ) Research Centre, which has particular strengths in applied research and the co-production of knowledge with relevant community and policy stakeholders.
Students enrolled on this pathway will be immersed in a vibrant research culture, backed by two leading research units specialising in Politics and International Studies, and Social Work and Social Policy. These units have been lauded for their research quality and have secured significant research funding, attesting to their academic vitality. Together, they encompass approximately 75 academic staff members and potential supervisors in the School.
Find out more about the Social Justice & Inequalities Pathway.