Psychology and Counselling

The School of Psychology & Counselling has a vibrant research culture, noted for its transdisciplinary ethos, its real-world relevance and its commitment to social justice. We welcome PhD candidates who aspire to contribute to this ethos through their research.

Research within the School is conducted under the auspices of the Open Psychology Research Centre, and it is organised around three strands: Culture and Social Psychology (CuSP); Psychology of Health and Wellbeing (PHeW); and the Forensic Cognition Research Group (FCRG).

The School of Psychology & Counselling is part of the ESRC Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) with the University of Oxford and Brunel University, and it offers a limited number of doctoral studentships under the Psychology Pathway.

Key facts

  • A thriving interdisciplinary community of researchers with international reputation.
  • Research that has real-world relevance and impact and engages with the general public through, among others, open access learning resources and BBC productions.
  • Established record of externally funded research projects, including the European Union; the Economic and Social Research Council; the Centre for Policing Research and Learning; and the National Institute for Health Research.
  • Regular School research days and lecture series with distinguished external speakers.
  • Open Psychology Research Centre activities and research support specifically for PhD students.
  • ESRC recognition for distance learning training in psychological research methods.


Most of our full-time research students are based away from our Milton Keynes campus but are resident in the UK; for details of residence requirements for different modes of study see Full-time study and Part-time study.


  • PhD office space
  • State-of-the-art remote eye-tracker
  • Dedicated experimental software
  • Data analysis software for qualitative and quantitative data



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.

Applied and forensic cognition

Cultural and social psychology

Psychology of health and wellbeing


The OU has changed my life as being able to study part-time from home has meant that I can continue to run my holiday let business without my studies impacting my income. I was worried about feeling a bit ‘out there on my own’ whilst studying remotely, but I have found many ways to get involved, and I now feel like a part of the Social Psychology community at the OU.

Emma BricePart-time PhD student in Social Psychology

I chose to study with the OU because I gained all my life-changing qualifications at both undergraduate and postgraduate level with the university and have also worked as an Associate Lecturer for 17 years teaching psychology. Studying for a PhD has been a lifelong ambition and I was so happy to find a way to bring together two passions – politics and psychology – into the relatively new area of political psychology.

Sue NielandPhD student in the School of Psychology & Counselling