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Before you apply, take a look at the research area you are interested in on our prospectus website. This will tell you about the research priorities, the supervisors available, the entry requirements and potential research projects the University is considering.  Different research degrees have different application periods and entry requirements, so check the prospectus or advertisement for information about closing dates. 

The ‘research topics’ pages give you contact details within each faculty, so you can discuss your research proposal with an academic member of staff.  Most research degree places are subject to a competitive selection process; you will normally need to submit a carefully thought-out research proposal and attend an interview before you are offered a place.  Places are decided based on:

  • the quality of your proposal
  • the view of the selection panel regarding the contribution to knowledge that your research would make
  • the availability of supervisors with knowledge and experience relevant to your research
  • the funding available
  • the University’s current research priorities
  • any entry requirements which apply to that research area.

(Claims for the accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL) or prior certificated learning (APCL) are not considered as part of our assessment of research degree applications).

If you meet the entry requirements for the research area you are interested in, it is strongly recommended that you discuss your proposed research project with a member of staff before you apply. If you are interested in applying for the EdD programme, before contacting staff you should first complete the online eligibility checker which will tell you if you are eligible to apply, and give you further guidance on writing your proposal.

Once you have decided which type of research degree is right for you, and checked that your proposed research topic aligns with the OU’s current research portfolio, check when you need to apply, and what to send us  – this depends on the type of degree you are interested in. Follow the links below for more information on how to apply.  If your application is shortlisted there will be a selection process involving an interview, references and sometimes you will be required to produce a piece of written work.  Selection is conducted according to the fair selection principles defined in the QAA Quality Code for Higher Education, Chapter B11.  You can read more about the Quality Code in the Student Handbook.

If you are successful, we will contact you with an offer of registration, and tell you how to register. If you accept an offer of registration you will be bound by the student and award regulations of the University and by such others as may apply. Full regulations are in the Research Degree Student Handbook. The regulations and codes of practice are updated each year. The most up-to-date version will apply to all students unless specified. You can read the Student Handbook.

If you have a disability or additional requirements

We welcome applications from students with disabilities or additional requirements and offer a wide range of support services and facilities to enable you to succeed in your studies. If you have a disability, health condition, mental health difficulty or specific learning difficulty (such as dyslexia) that might affect your studies or examinations, we encourage you to tell us as early as possible – please indicate this in the relevant section of the application form. Please give as much information as you can so that we can support you fully.  You can also discuss your needs with us at your interview.

We will only use the information you provide related to assess the full implications of your circumstances for your proposed research area, and to arrange appropriate services. You may also be eligible for a Disabled Students’ Allowance.

Also, see the information about the Disabled Students’ Allowance.

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.