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  • How does the application process work?

    Most of our degree places are allocated in a competitive process.  

    Different faculties will have different entry requirements and timescales for selecting research students.  You should look at the relevant pages of the prospectus website to find out about the application process for the academic area you are interested in.  You can also contact us for advice about applying.  The application process for specific studentships is described in the relevant advertisement on the OU jobs website.

    You will need to download and complete an application form, and in most cases, submit a research proposal which describes the research you would like to undertake.  Your application and proposal will be assessed by a team of academic staff and if you are successful, you may be invited for an interview at the Milton Keynes campus or by phone or videoconference.  We will assess if your research topic and proposal are a good fit with the University’s research priorities, and if we have staff available with expertise in your area of study who could supervise you.  To ensure you have the best possible chance of success, we recommend that you read the information on our website and speak to a member of staff in the relevant academic department before you apply.  Contact details are given on each of the ‘research topics’ pages of our prospectus website.  Please make sure you complete your application form in full, and send us all the additional documents we ask for, otherwise we will not be able to consider your application.

    We recruit and select students 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 our Student Handbook.

  • What support do you provide for people with disabilities?

    We welcome applications from students with disabilities and additional requirements and can offer a wide range of support services and facilities to enable you to succeed in your studies. You may be eligible for a Disabled Students’ Allowance for help with study costs. For guidance, see ‘If you have a disability or additional requirements’ in How to apply.

    You can also visit the University's Services for disabled students website.

    Please tell us on your application form, or at interview, if you think you might need support.

  • How do I maximise my chances of acceptance as a research degree student?

    For the best chance of acceptance, you need to align your research proposal with the University’s current research priorities.  It will help you shape your proposal if you contact an academic member of staff for advice before you apply. That will help you find out about the OU, the academic area you’d be joining, and particular projects that would be relevant to your proposal.  Contact details are given on each of the ‘research topics’ pages of the prospectus website.

    Make sure you complete your application form in full, provide all the supplementary information we ask for, and get your application in on time.  Different faculties and studentships will be working to different closing dates, so if you need any help, please contact the Research Degrees Office.

  • When can I start my Research Degree?

    Full-time students normally start on 1 October, to gain full advantage of the induction and training events taking place in the autumn.  Students on the EdD (Doctorate in Education) programme start in May.   If you want to begin your studies at any other time of year you should contact the academic staff in the subject area you are interested in, to discuss your options.  Contact details are given for each research area on this site.

  • When will I know the outcome of my application?

    This depends on the timing of your application. For applications between November and March for a 1 October start, you will usually hear during the summer months in time to make your preparations to begin your doctoral studies. See How to apply.

  • Who can give me advice about applying for a research degree at the Open University?

    Guidance is given in How to apply. For more information, please contact the Research Degrees Team by email or telephone +44 (0)1908 654882. For academic advice, please contact the academic staff for the research area you are interested in.