The first thing I would say to anyone thinking of doing a PhD with the OU is to start by doing the MRes – Master of Research – because it’s such excellent training!
It doesn’t matter which discipline your PhD is in, the MRes is relevant to them all; and it gives you a great head start.
I am originally from China and had just completed a Masters in Media Technology for TESOL at a campus-based university in the UK, when a friend suggested I apply to do a doctorate with the OU. Initially the main reason for me to apply to the OU was because of the wide range of excellent scholarships.
I carefully prepared and submitted a proposal before I received an interview, which was successful and I won a studentship subsequently. When I began the MRes, I realised that one of the best reasons for studying the MRes at the OU was that I was being taught the strategies and methodologies I would use in my doctorate.
I successfully completed the MRes and am now a PhD student. I really do think the OU is a wonderful, unique organisation. As a research student – I’m studying internet-mediated intercultural communication in foreign language teaching – I am extremely well catered for and the continued support and guidance I receive from my supervisors is superb. One of the main reasons that the academics have much more time to help you is that, unlike other universities, the OU doesn’t have hundreds of undergraduates on campus. It’s fantastic to be able to have access to help, as and when, you need it.
I have now been in the OU for two years and it will be another two before I finish my studies. I would eventually like to use my PhD to help me get a teaching job within the higher education section in China, but if a job or research opportunity comes up anywhere in the world I would be equally as happy to pursue it!
The OU has such a good reputation that my PhD will help me wherever I go, with whatever I decide to do. I would fully recommend the OU’s PhD programme to anyone.