Learning in an open world

Qualifications Duration Start dates Application period
PhD or Professional doctorate PhD:
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
Professional doctorate:
Part time: 4–8 years
October November to January
PhD or Professional doctorate
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
Professional doctorate:
Part time: 4–8 years
Start dates
Application period
November to January

Learning in an Open World encompasses the broad range of definitions of Open Education, including the specialities of Open Educational Resources (OER), MOOCs, open access publishing and open educational practice. With a history of expertise in content sharing, open licensing, and open collaboration, our research covers the impact of open education on learners, teachers and educators across society. As Open Education has grown in mainstream prominence, we seek to answer questions of the most vital importance in education, industry and developing markets, including in areas such as open textbooks, online identities, and how universities adapt to free and informal learning. The impacts extend throughout and beyond universities, with public engagement and awareness being vital for societal issues such as health, economics, jobs and education.

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 undergraduate degree (or equivalent) and an MA or research methods training at MA level (or equivalent). If you are not a UK citizen, you may need to prove your knowledge of English.

Current/recent research projects

  • iLED
  • ExtenDT²
  • Teach 4.0
  • Digital Badges for Teacher Professional Development in India
  • Complex Trajectories
  • The effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on OU students
  • Linked Journeys
  • Our Journey
  • Technology-enhanced Personalised Learning In Schools
  • LEARN CitSci
  • Evaluate
  • Facilitating equitable access and quality education for development: South African International Distance Education
  • TeSLA
  • OWL
  • LAEP
  • Learning Gains
  • Improving social capital for learning
  • Learning Design Work Planning Tool
  • LACE

Potential Supervisors

Contact the programme lead to advise: Professor Martin Weller

Fees and funding

PhD fees

UK fee International fee
Full time: £4,786 per year Full time: £12,146 per year
Part time: £2,393 per year Part time: £6,073 per year

Professional doctorate fees

UK fee International fee
Part time: £3,643 per year Part time: £9,250 per year

Some of our research students are funded via The Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership and the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership; others are self-funded.

For detailed information about fees and funding, visit Fees and studentships.

To see current funded studentship vacancies across all research areas, see Current studentships.


Adults learning in a group

How to apply

Get in touch

If you have an enquiry specific to this research topic, please contact:

Dr Tim Coughlan, PGR Convenor in the Future of Learning 
Email: WELS-student-enquiries@open.ac.uk
Phone: +44 (0)1908 832511

Apply now

If you’re interested in applying for this research topic, please take a look at the application process.