Geography and Environmental Studies

Pursuing a PhD in Geography and Environmental Studies at the Open University offers the chance to develop new independent research on the most pressing social, environmental and political issues shaping the world today.

You will join our OpenSpace Research Centre – where we are driven by a longstanding commitment to rethinking the difference geography makes for interpreting and intervening within emerging issues, debates, and concerns: from environmental crisis, urban politics and migration, to astrobiology, sonic cultures, and more.

As a postgraduate student – whether part-time or full-time – you will engage in virtual and in-person seminars, workshops and reading groups and gain training in a wide range of skills, for research, broadcast, career development and more, to amplify your research among academic, policy and public audiences across Britain and beyond.

Key facts

As a research collective in Geography and Environmental Studies, we pride ourselves on:

  • Our unique founding mission to be open: generating cutting-edge, meaningful research with a diverse range of publics, industries, and third sector organisations
  • Cultivating a genuinely collective research culture sustained by regular seminars, reading groups, workshops, visits from external scholars as well as our Doreen Massey events
  • Our agenda-setting research agenda – 90% of our research outputs and 100% of our impact case studies were ranked 3* or 4* in the REF2021 assessment
  • Offering flexibility and support for a community of full-time and part-time doctoral researchers
  • Our ability to generate public-facing research, broadcast and digital media enabling the rapid circulation of new and emerging research insights to engage with wider publics at-a-distance


Most of our full-time research students are based at our Milton Keynes campus; for details of residence requirements for different modes of study see Full-time study and Part-time study.



Find your research topic

Explore specific areas of research, current and prospective projects, entry requirements, fees and funding, available supervisors, how to apply and contact details for advice.

Cities, politics, infrastructures

Creative geographies: engaging, knowing, experimenting

Culture and environmental change in the Anthropocene

Mobilities and migration

Open geographies

Political economy and environmental politics


The journey has been nothing short of excitement, new insights, great exposure, collegiality and in-depth understanding, within a conducive learning atmosphere. The OU offers me access to state-of-the-art tools for my research, including access to the very latest software which has greatly assisted me in my data analysis and offered me great confidence for working after the completion of my study.

Jacob ObodaiPhD Student, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences