Voluntary sector leadership

Qualifications Duration Start dates Application period
(MPhil also available)
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
February and October April to July
(February start)
November to February (October start)
(MPhil also available)
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
Start dates
February and October
Application period
April to July (February start)
November to February (October start)

The Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership (CVSL) is one of The Open University Business School’s centres for academic excellence. These centres seek to combine original research, the development of teaching and external engagement in ways that are relevant and useful to a specific community.

CVSL is specifically concerned with research led insight and the co-production of free  and low cost on-line educational resources of relevance to small and medium sized voluntary sector organisations. CVSL focuses specifically on leadership but importantly adopts a broad definition of leadership concerned with making things happen -  rather than solely as an attribute of individuals. Leadership is seen as practice that can be collaborative and shared by many individuals who collectively make a difference in an organisation or in the sector more generally.

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 undergraduate degree (or equivalent). If you are not a UK citizen, you may need to prove your knowledge of English.

Potential recent research projects

  • Leadership practice in a changing voluntary sector
  • Collaborating in turbulent times
  • Leading in collaborative contexts
  • Developing leadership in the voluntary sector
  • The voluntary sector contribution to place leadership
  • Inclusive leadership
  • Ethics and leadership in the third sector

Current/recent research projects

  • Shared leadership of trustee boards
  • Practice of collaboration in informal contexts
  • Leadership development and course production

Potential supervisors

Fees and funding

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

Some of our research students are funded via The Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership or the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership; some are funded by University studentships; 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.


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How to apply

Get in touch

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

Lin Nilsen

Email: FBL-PHD
Phone: +44 (0)1908 858365

Apply now

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