Your feedback is important to us
Please take two minutes at the end of your visit to help us improve our information and services.
Skip to content The Open University
On this page
An image of the Open University main reception building

We offer research degrees on a full-time and part-time basis.  You can study a PhD or MPhil full-time or part-time, and the Doctorate in Education (EdD) is a part-time degree.  Full-time students are based at our main campus in Milton Keynes; part-time students carry out their research off-campus. All our degree students are well supported; you will have a supervisory team within an established research group and within a discipline-based research cluster. This team will provide support and training to help you develop your research, and will monitor your academic progress throughout your studies. The final assessment involves the submission of a thesis and an oral examination. 

The entry requirements for an OU research degree vary according to the research topic; you can find out more by looking at the research areas listed on the right; contact details for academic staff are provided. 

Before starting a research degree, and at regular points in your studies, you should consider your skills needs – your supervisors will help with this.  It may be advisable to have completed a relevant masters degree prior to starting a doctorate. Courses are available at the OU, and through national doctoral training networks, to strengthen your qualitative and quantitative research skills.

On starting a PhD, you will initially be registered for an MPhil. When you pass your probationary period, your registration for a PhD will be confirmed.

Full-time study or part-time study?

Find the right mode of study for you.

Higher doctorates

The University also awards two higher doctorates, the Doctor of Letters (DLitt) and the Doctor of Science (DSc) on the basis of published work. These qualifications are only open to graduates of the University, graduates of the Council for National Academic Awards who are not otherwise eligible to register with a degree awarding institution, members of University staff (including Associate Lecturers) and others with established links to the University. Please contact the Research Degrees Team by email or telephone +44 (0)1908 654882 for further information.

Affiliated Research Centres

The University has partnerships with a growing number of specialist research institutions across the world. Postgraduate research students at these Affiliated Research Centres (ARCs) are registered with the OU for their PhDs but undertake their research at the Centre.

There are currently over 20 of these Affiliated Research Centres in the UK, Europe, US, Africa and the Far East. Each has its own admission policy and procedures which are approved by the OU.

Students register directly with the ARC not via the OU.  This website is for people wishing to register directly with the OU rather than at an ARC.

Your questions

For advice about applying for a research degree, or sponsoring a research student, send us an email or call +44 (0)1908 654882.