The Open University PhD

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The Open University PhD

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

What is a PhD?

The Open University PhD, A PhD is a Doctorate of Philosophy, a prestigious qualification that demonstrates talent, academic excellence and a thirst for knowledge. Like all research degrees, a PhD can give you an advantage in the job market, and opens doors in the academic community. Over a maximum registration period of four-year period of full-time study or six years part time you investigate a research topic and develop your research skills, culminating in the completion, submission and defence via an oral examination of a 100,000 word doctoral thesis to the satisfaction of the examiners. Your thesis must meet the expectations specified in the QAA Framework for Higher Education Qualifications.

All PhD students are initially registered for a Master of Philosophy (MPhil), and the PhD registration is confirmed after the successful completion of a probationary assessment (at the end of year 1 for full-time students and year 2 for part-time).

What will I get from a PhD?

You will get a huge sense of personal achievement. Our doctoral training programme will help you develop transferable skills that will be invaluable in your subsequent career. The research techniques and methodologies you master will enable you to make a direct contribution to the advancement of knowledge in your particular subject area.

Successful candidates are awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and are permitted to use the title ‘Dr’.

In a modern knowledge-based economy, highly educated and skilled people such as doctoral graduates are in great demand. They form the most highly educated and skilled group in the UK. Many will go on to use their skills within academia or in research-intensive occupations in industry. However, there will be others who will draw on their research background and the skills gained through a doctoral degree in a wide variety of other occupations.

After exploring The Open University online prospectus, you may wish to visit Vitae. Vitae is the UK organisation championing the personal, professional and career development of doctoral researchers.

How does it work?


The maximum registration for a PhD programme is four years with full-time study, or six years with part-time study.


You will have a probation assessment at the end of Year 1 (Year 2 for part-time study). You will be registered for a PhD when you pass this probation. Your academic progress will be monitored throughout your degree studies, via formal progress reports and regular meetings with your supervisors.

You complete a body of primary research and submit a doctoral thesis, which you then defend via an oral examination.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements vary according to the research topic and/or specific studentships. The normal minimum entrance requirement is an upper second class honours degree or masters degree, relevant to the proposed area of study, from a recognised higher education institution in the UK or other recognised degree-awarding body. The comparability of qualifications from outside the UK with The Open University requirements will be determined through reference to UK NARIC.

Application closing dates

Entry may be permitted for direct registration with The Open University at the following points of year: October and February. This ensures that students benefit from development and training in large peer groups. You should check the details given on the relevant research topic page or studentship advertisement for specific dates.


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