Doctoral Training Partnership studentships

The Open University is proud to join Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) and Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) in a number of research areas.

The Open University is currently recruiting for DTP studentships in several areas.

Current Doctoral Training Partnerships

The Central England NERC Training Alliance (CENTA) is a consortium of Universities and research institutes, including the OU, working together to provide excellence in doctoral research training, within the remit of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). Please read more about this partnership on our Doctoral Training Partnerships page.

NERC-funded CENTA studentships are advertised from early November on the:

The deadline for CENTA applications starting in October is in early January and interviews for shortlisted candidates are in mid-February.

To be eligible for a full CENTA studentship award, you must have no restrictions on how long you can stay in the UK and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship. Funding may be available for international (following Brexit, now including EU) students; please contact your prospective supervisor directly for more information.

Often, other studentships funding is also available and sometimes at a later date. The websites listed above will have more information.

DISCnet is a ~£6million partnership between Open University, the University of Sussex and Queen Mary University of London. It is funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), training students in cutting-edge techniques in astronomy, planetary/space science, physics and computer science. Please read more about this partnership on our Doctoral Training Partnerships page. Current DISCnet projects are listed on the PhD recruitment pages of the School of Physical Sciences and the School of Computing and Communications. If you are interested in DISCnet projects, please contact Professor Stephen Serjeant or Dr Robin Laney for initial advice. For studentships in astronomy or physics, the projects usually require a first class BSc in a relevant discipline such as physics or astrophysics, or a 2:1/merit in an integrated masters such as an MPhys, or a BSc 2:1 plus a Masters qualification. For most DISCnet projects, strong computing skills are essential. For further information, see the DISCnet Handbook.

STFC-funded (and other) projects in Astronomy, Physics, Physics Education Research, Planetary and Space Science, and Space Instrumentation are advertised from November each year on our Current PhD Studentships page.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). EPSRC allocate funding for Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTP) using an algorithm based on a variety of criteria including grants awarded to the institution.

The Open University Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) holds an EPSRC DTP award covering the following subject areas:

  • General Engineering
  • IT, Systems Sciences and Software Engineering
  • Mathematical Sciences
  • Physics.

The OU EPSRC DTP funds PhD studentships, Vacation Internships and Doctoral Prizes. PhD projects are listed on the PhD students pages of the STEM schools and institute:

Summer vacation internships are advertised on the pages of the OU EPSRC DTP.

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 2023 academic year are advertised on the OU Studentship pages and have a cut-off date of 11 January. Please feel free to approach the contact listed under each pathway prior to making an application.

Application follows a three-stage process:

  1. Apply to the OU.
  2. Applicants are nominated to the Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership.
  3. Open competition for funding. The Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership is committed to funding the very best applicants; this will be decided at the third stage.

Equal Opportunity is University policy.

OU training pathways

Pathways 1. Development Policy and Practice – Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The Open University

Development Policy and Practice 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 and sustainable energy infrastructures can bring benefits to marginalised groups. Underpinning this pathway is a history of research at the OU on the social and economic impacts of innovation and the political dimensions of development, all with a strong orientation to policy and practice.

For any questions about this pathway, please contact

Pathway 2. Geography – Lead University: Oxford; Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The Open University

Geography at The OU is at the forefront of interdisciplinary research on key themes of space and power, culture and practice, and environment and politics. The discipline’s breadth of impactful research is enabled by its distinctive group of internationally renowned and award-winning academics, whose work has shaped key debates in the discipline through explorations of notions of space and place. Geography at the OU is highly research active. Research is conducted through the Open Space Research Centre; and is divided across three overlapping themes of space and power, culture and practice, and environment and politics. As an inherently interdisciplinary subject, the Geography pathway is uniquely placed to provide comprehensive social sciences research training to address societal and environmental problems.

For any questions about this pathway, please contact

Pathway 3. Innovation in Learning – Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies, The Open University

This pathway supports cutting-edge interdisciplinary research into novel uses of digital technology for learning, teaching and assessment. We specialise in studying open and inclusive education and welcome proposals exploring the boundary between formal and informal learning. Our Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology leads the world in research into: assistive technology use; children’s digital lives; creativity and gamification; the application of AI to feedback and assessment; analysing big data to improve learning; MOOCs for professional development; the educational uses of Social Media; and online intercultural exchange (telecollaboration). Our research academics will show you how to use a broad range of methods and approaches, from ethnography, through visual and participatory methods, to data analytics, corpus research methods and eye-tracking. We positively encourage imaginative methodological combinations, as a means of generating new insights into the world of learning.

For any questions about this pathway, please contact

Pathway 4. Health and Wellbeing – Lead University: Brunel; 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 OU’s mission. We’re keen to attract students to work with us on research that locates the experiences of service users, patients, carers, family members and practitioners at the fore of inquiry. We place value on participatory and inclusive research particularly with individuals that are marginalised, hard to reach or have complex needs. We also have research expertise in population-level research. Our research draws on various methodologies and forms of analysis and much is based on multidisciplinary work across the social sciences, drawing on medical sociology, critical psychology, public health, anthropology and other critical, applied social sciences. This pathway equips students to address health and wellbeing as complex, dynamic and fluid phenomena across the life course, and enables the use of established and innovative social research methodologies to address these challenges. It provides training for researching current and emerging health and wellbeing challenges relevant to diverse communities and stakeholders.

Applications are invited on one or more of the following themes:

  • age, 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.

For any questions about this pathway, please contact

Pathway 5. Psychology – Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The Open University

Psychology at The Open University represents a progressive approach to psychological research, theory and practice that is tightly connected with other social sciences and humanities disciplines. We champion creative, critical, and credible psychological research that makes a difference to real social issues, that informs practice, and that inspires a positive vision for living together fairly, equitably and imaginatively.

Students are affiliated with The Open Psychology Research Centre (OPRC), which houses three thematic research streams: i) Culture and Social Psychology (CuSP); ii) Psychology of Health and Wellbeing (PHeW) and iii) the Forensic Cognition Research Group (FCRG). 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.

For any questions about this pathway, please contact

Pathway 6. Leadership and Organisational Governance – Faculty of Business and Law, The Open University

This pathway equips students to examine complex leadership and organisational governance phenomena, using both established and innovative social research methodologies to address the associated challenges.

  • employment, empowerment and futures
  • innovation and entrepreneurship
  • law
  • marketing policing
  • public leadership
  • voluntary sector leadership
  • social marketing
  • strategy Business ethics and CSR
  • inter-organisational collaboration
  • social enterprise
  • environmentally sustainable enterprise
  • governance and social responsibility.

For any questions about this pathway, please contact

The OU partners with Bangor University, University of Bristol, University of Cambridge and Imperial College London to form the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Nuclear Energy Futures. Please read more about this partnership on our Doctoral Training Partnerships page.

The CDT offers four-year PhDs integrated with seven courses, as well as optional modules depending on the research being undertaken.

We’d advise you to contact the CDT via the website below, copying in the Graduate School, for further information and advice before applying.

See the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Nuclear Energy Futures website for further details and current opportunities.

We’re pleased to offer Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funding through the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership (OOC DTP). Please read more about this partnership on our Doctoral Training Partnerships page.

Awards for UK residents cover all tuition fees and provide a maintenance grant at the UKRI national minimum doctoral stipend rate (£15,609 in 2021–22 for 12 months). If the award is for a period of less than 12 months in any year, the grant is reduced pro-rata to reflect the number of days for which a student is enrolled on course. A limited number of awards, including stipend and a contribution towards tuition fees, may also be available for international applicants (subject to residency requirements during the course of study). International applicants should check the DTP eligibility page for further information prior to making a formal application.

Full details of eligible subject areas and further information is available on the Open-Oxford-Cambridge DTP website.

Visit the OU Studentship pages for October 2023 studentships, which will be advertised toward the end of 2022.

Research student in lab

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.