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Postgraduate Research in Philosophy

The Open University’s PhD Programme in Philosophy is interdisciplinary, enabling world-class research and enriching the experience of those who study with us.

A PhD (or ‘doctorate’) is the highest educational qualification in the English-speaking world. To achieve a PhD in Philosophy involves writing and being examined on a book-length dissertation on a subject of the candidate’s own choosing.

The writing will be supervised by an academic team (typically this will consist of one main supervisor and one secondary supervisor) with relevant expertise. Doctoral students meet regularly with their supervision team to receive support, advice and friendly criticism on drafts, and are directed in their research and their reading towards the most important and most recent work in their area of study.

Most Open University PhD students in philosophy register part-time, and are registered in the first instance for an MPhil, transferring after a couple of years (the probationary period) to the PhD programme proper. The full period of study (if part time) is usually around six years. It is an exceptional commitment.

Key Dates:

Application deadline for funded and self-funded PhD students: 9 January 2024 (noon).

Application deadline for self-funded students: 31 March 2024 (noon).

Start date: October 2024.

Application deadlines differ year by year, but the deadlines for applicants wishing to apply for an OOC DTP Studentship are in the January before admission, while applications from those who wish to self-fund can be in late March or, exceptionally, late August (for a February start).

Our PhD programme: an overview

Most of our research students (currently 15 in total) are based in the UK, with others based in Europe or beyond. Supervision can be via Skype or face-to-face according to which is most convenient, and the norm is for it to be face-to-face at least once a year, conditions allowing. Full-time research students are usually expected to live within more easy reach of our campus in Milton Keynes and to meet their supervisors more frequently.

We also support postgraduate research in philosophy by holding monthly work in progress sessions as well as an annual Graduate Conference. These provide opportunities for our research students to exchange ideas and to enjoy the experience of discussing their work in an informal and supportive setting. All our students are warmly encouraged to attend and to present. In addition, research students are cordially invited to departmental seminars, conferences and research days.

The department’s postgraduate programmes are supported by the OU Library at the Walton Hall in Milton Keynes, which has extensive holdings in philosophy and a helpful acquisition policy. The OU Library receives most of the leading philosophy journals, and has electronic access both to these and to a wide variety of other research resources. UK-based students may have access rights (though not necessarily borrowing rights) at other UK universities through the SCONUL access system.

All Philosophy staff are happy and willing to provide PhD supervision in their own areas of specialisation subject to availability, though please note we are near capacity in terms of the number of MPhil and PhD students we can supervise. Follow this link for details of staff and their research interests.


More information on the PhD Programme in Philosophy can be found in our FAQ section:

Research students

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