The Open University Law School (OULS) provides a lively and stimulating interdisciplinary research environment for PhD students. As a PhD student in OULS you will be provided with the resources and support you need to enable you to fulfil your intellectual potential and generate research impact in your chosen field.

Research activity in the School focuses on the Space, Law and Governance Centre and the following research clusters:

The School is also networked to a University-wide priority research area aimed at addressing 21st century global challenges and promoting social justice:

Doctoral researchers are fully integrated into the academic and research community. Key to your development are the learning opportunities enabled by discipline-specific research training provided by the Faculty of Business and Law, as well as skills development, including a scheme whereby PhD students can gain experience of teaching at the Open University. By creating a friendly environment for research and structured opportunities for social interaction with other students and academics, the School supports PhD students at every stage of their research journey. 

Key facts

  • There are around 12 PhD students in the Law School, most of whom study full-time.
  • OULS recruits PhD students twice annually (start dates: 1st October and 1st February).
  • The School regularly offers fully funded studentships linked to specific areas of research expertise.
  • Students are engaged in projects that connect to a wide range of research clusters and themes within the School.
  • OULS is a member of the ESRC Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership.


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.

Career prospects

After graduating, OULS PhD students go on to build successful academic careers in the UK or internationally. Other students use the PhD as a platform for continuing professional development in a wide variety of occupations, including professional practice, international, regional and national institutions (including the UN, international courts, the European Union, the Africa Union, etc.) advocacy, and legal consultancy.



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.

Astrobiology, space law and governance

Belonging and faith in law


Returning to academia after a significant gap, I was clear that I would only pursue a PhD in a supportive environment. I believe this support and understanding is reflected in the PhD Program well. With issues compounded by the pandemic, the extraordinary support and understanding extended by my supervisors, the Law School, the Faculty, and the Graduate School only cements this. I feel extremely privileged and grateful of being at the OU.

Nishant BeniwalPhD Student, OU Law School