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Research degrees
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Doctoral Training Partnership studentships

Doctoral Training
Partnership studentships

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. In partnership with other universities, research organisations and industry partners, we will develop the research leaders of the future, equipping them with the research skills and knowledge to work at the cutting edge of research.

The strong focus on collaboration within and between the organisations in the DTPs/CDTs allows all the partners to pool their experience to create rich training environments for postgraduate research students and encourage knowledge-sharing and interconnectivity. These studentships are prestigious opportunities, granting successful applicants unique access to the research environments, the professional networks and resources of all the partner organisations. Each DTP/CDT will create a strong and active community of students that are able – and encouraged – to integrate, learn and work together.

To find out more about OU research areas currently offering DTP studentships, go to the research area pages on this website for contact details of academic staff who you can talk to about your application. If you want to know about research at the OU more broadly, our Research website showcases the excellence and impact of our current research.

The Open University is currently recruiting for DTP studentships in the following areas:

We’re 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 from 2019 to 2023 and at least 77 studentships (part or full time) will be available across the consortium each year.

AHRC PhD studentships are available to UK and EU residents through The Open University across all three AHRC subject classifications: ‘Histories, Cultures and Heritage’, ‘Creative and Performing Arts’, and ‘Languages and Literature’.

Awards for UK residents cover all tuition fees and provide a maintenance grant at the UKRI national minimum doctoral stipend rate (£15,009 in 2019–20 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.

The Open University is internationally recognised for innovative research across the Arts and Humanities. We host a number of major AHRC- and Economic and Social Research Council-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.

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 2021 studentships, which will be advertised toward the end of 2020.

We’ve worked with Imperial College London and Cambridge University since 2014 to deliver an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (ESPRC)-funded Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT), aimed at building civil nuclear skills for global markets. The Imperial-Cambridge-Open CDT (ICO-CDT) receives almost £4 million from the EPSRC and additional backing from a large range of companies. The ICO-CDT is led by Imperial College London and trains a large number of PhD students.

The primary objective of the ICO-CDT is to train a cohort of PhD students of international quality, who are prepared to operate in the competitive global nuclear business and technology arenas, as well as deliver high-impact research.

Students spend the first year of a four-year programme based at Imperial College in South Kensington, London, studying towards a Master of Research (MRes). OU PhD students will then transition to research with The Open University. Successful OU students will emerge with a PhD degree from the OU and an Imperial College MRes degree.

If you already hold a masters degree in nuclear engineering, we’d advise you to contact the ICO-CDT, 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.

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).

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

The deadline for CENTA applications is in early January 2021 and interviews for shortlisted candidates will be mid-February 2021.

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. There may be some opportunity to fund international (following Brexit, now including EU) students; please contact your prospective supervisor directly as the situation is rapidly changing.

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

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

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 24 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 2021 academic year will be advertised on the OU Studentship pages towards the end of 2020.

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

Pathway 1. Citizenship – Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The Open University

Citizenship studies is an inter- and cross-disciplinary field in which citizenship is investigated as not only a contested legal or political status, but also as field of practices through which individuals and groups (regardless of their status) struggle for, demand, or claim, rights, recognition or redistribution. The varied dimensions of citizenship (and conversely, non-citizenship), the multiple actors involved in struggles over citizenship, and the numerous sites at which these struggles take place translates to a conceptually, empirically and methodologically rich field of study and research.

Pathways 2. 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.

Pathway 3. 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.

Pathway 4. 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.

Pathway 5. 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.

Pathway 6. Psychology – Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The Open University

The School of Psychology and Counselling at The Open University has a vibrant research culture. We are noted for being an international leader in research that takes a transdisciplinary approach, engages in methodological and theoretical pluralism, seeks to engage with different publics and has a commitment to social justice.

We welcome projects that have a contemporary focus, examining the impact of exceptional and everyday situations through a psychological lens and exploring the distinctive and emergent social practices that both constitute and continuously transform everyday lives. Students will be equipped to examine complex psychological phenomenon as they unfold as part of social practices in real settings.

Applicants are invited to apply on one or more of the thematic research streams:

Culture and Social Psychology (CuSP)

CuSP research brings insights from cultural and social psychology to real-world issues. The research is both theoretical and empirical, with a strong focus on methodological innovation. Potential topics include: Citizenship; immigration/migration; contemporary subjectivities, including religious, sexual and political subjectivities; children and childhood; digital lives; intergroup contact and social division.

Psychology of Health and Wellbeing Research (PHeW)

PHeW is a theoretically and methodologically diverse group with a focus on practices of health and wellbeing. Key strands of research focus on counselling and psychotherapy, critical mental health and wellbeing in contexts

Forensic Cognition Research Group (FCRG)

FCRG is a transdisciplinary group whose main aim is to better understand the perceptions, processes and systems of the criminal justice system, taking an approach that is both critical and solution-oriented to tackle real world issues. Key strands are courtroom processes, policing and inquiry and community and citizens.

Pathway 7. 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.
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 654882.