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Open-Oxford-Cambridge Doctoral Training Partnership

Applicant Information Session: Friday 6 October 2023, 12:30-2:00pm (GMT) & Monday 13 November 2023, 5-6:30pm (GMT)

For an overview of the studentship competition and to ask any questions, register for a place by midday the working day before the session, i.e. Thursday 5 October or Friday 10 November.

Please complete the form to register

  1. What is the Open-Oxford-Cambridge Doctoral Training Partnership?
  2. Why study at the OU?
  3. Arts and Humanities at the OU
  4. What is the application process?
  5. How do I apply?
  6. What support is available for me to complete my application?
  7. Subject areas and academic contacts
  8. Further support and resources

What is the Open-Oxford-Cambridge Doctoral Training Partnership?

The Open University as part of the Open-Oxford-Cambridge (OOC) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP), funded by AHRC, provides graduate students with unique and exciting opportunities to pursue research, to engage in training, and to learn from each other as part of a large multi-disciplinary group.

By providing an environment for creative collaboration and innovation we encourage original, ambitious doctoral research. The wealth of experience and expertise in delivering doctoral training that already exists in each of the universities is enhanced by our partners, the BBC World Service, the National Trust and BT.

Holding an OOC DTP studentship enables you to access bespoke training, and share training and facilities with Oxford and Cambridge. It also offers opportunity for placements or internship opportunities with non-University partners.

As an Open-Oxford-Cambridge PhD student you will have the opportunity to gain profound expertise within your field(s), learn to communicate your research to a variety of academic and public audiences and to collaborate across disciplinary and national boundaries. This will enable you to produce rigorous, distinctive doctoral theses and graduate with an exceptional range of skills. Whatever your chosen career, whether within or outside of the academy, you will be able to bring the critical and creative skill-set of the humanities doctorate and the insights it provides into human society, past, present and future

With an Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP studentship you can gain the necessary research expertise and professional skills for a wide range of careers in academia and beyond. If you are interested in being a part of this exciting opportunity, and would like to find out more about the consortium and our partners, please explore the website further Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP. We hope that the information you find here will encourage you to apply to join the OU and this exciting partnership.

Why study at the OU?

Open University research engages with some of the major issues facing contemporary society. Via our presence in the nations and regions, and our close links with the BBC and other media outlets, our research informs public opinion and policy, and promotes debate and engagement with key questions of the day.

Our new Open Societal Challenges (OSC) programme offers opportunity to address three crucial challenges facing people across the globe, Sustainability, Tackling Inequalities and Living Well. The programme brings people together to build inclusive research that empowers communities in the UK and worldwide and gives them agency in driving positive societal change. Find out more in our Research Plan 2022-2027.

Examples of our current PhD research can be seen through the Public Arts Lecture Series and Social Sciences Lecture Series. Through this programme, which launched this year, PhD students were offered real world experience of delivering a lecture, supporting networking and collaboration.

The Open University has an extensive doctoral studies programme, with c. 621 current postgraduate research students (c.308 studying full-time, the rest studying part-time and combining research degrees with work). The University has therefore developed a rigorous yet flexible portfolio of skills training for postgraduate research students. The programme has a clear focus on transferable skills.

For further information about research degrees at The Open University and what it’s like to study with us, please visit OU Research Degrees.

Arts and Humanities at the OU

A large part of the university's Arts & Humanities research takes place within the internationally recognised Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS). The Faculty has a vibrant and broad-based research culture. Our work includes rich historical perspectives on subjects such as classical Greek poetry, Byzantine art, the First World War, and experiences of reading and listening to music alongside engagement with very contemporary issues such migration, Brexit, community divisions in Northern Ireland, sexual citizenship and the challenges faced by LGBT people.

In the 2021 Research Excellence Framework two-thirds of FASS academics were assessed as 100% 3* (internationally excellent) or 4* (world-leading). Our research has also been recognized by numerous grants from funders including the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Academy, the Economic and Social Research Council, the European Commission, and the Leverhulme Trust.

The Faculty supervises nearly 200 PhD students, including full-time students in Milton Keynes. Other Faculties within the university also conduct excellent research focussed on AHRC subject areas. The Design Group, within the Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) is distinctive in being focussed on the creative, technical and social dimensions of design and innovation. We also work with colleagues in our Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS) and The Open University Business School and Law School on interdisciplinary research in subject areas such as cultural property, gender and human rights, English language and applied linguistics.

Details on how to find out more about all these subject areas, and their provision for doctoral students, is given at the end of this document under 'How to Apply'.

When you study with the OU, we will provide an induction programme for new research students and a training programme for all stages of the student journey. You will receive training in (for example): bibliographical databases and other IT skills and in managing a research project through its different stages.

A programme of additional study skills training days will be provided by your home faculty, providing focussed subject led training. Students will also get access to the Open University's world-class library with particular strength in online resources. This programme complements the OOC Training and Researcher Development that is available for all students within the DTP.

All UKRI-funded doctoral students are eligible for a full award, comprising a stipend to support living costs (at least £17,668 p.a.) and fees up to the home rate. The DTP partners will cover the gap between the home and overseas fee rates for international students. All successful applicants will also have access to a Research Training and Support Grant.

Further general information is available at OU postgraduate research prospectus.

What is the application process?

Before you begin your application, we strongly recommend that you review the information provided by OOC for Prospective students. This site provides a wealth of information on what the DTP offers, eligibility criteria, application evaluation process, guidance and support with your application.

Applications for studentships are welcomed in any of the AHRC discipline areas at the OU: Art History, Classical Studies, Creative Writing, Cultural Geography, Digital Humanities Design, Development Studies, English Literature, History, Languages and Applied Linguistics, Law and Legal Studies, Music, Religious Studies and Philosophy.

To apply for a studentship via the OOC DTP with the OU, you will need to progress via a 3 stages process.

  • Stage One – Institutional Review – your application will be progressed via OU recruitment and selection procedures on the basis of your OOC application form (including research proposal), OU application form and successful interview.
  • Stage Two – OOC Review - your application will be assessed by one of four OOC DTP studentship selection panels. Assessment will be based on your OOC application form and Subject Statement of Support.
  • Stage Three – the studentship selection panels’ scores will be moderated and combined into a ranked list. The OOC Management Board will then determine the number of awards to be made.

All studentships will be allocated on the basis of merit rather than any sense of an institutional ‘allocation’, the strongest applications will be the ones funded in a given year.

Please read through the links for further details of the review process:

Who will review my application?

How will application be evaluated?

All studentships are for commencement of study from October 2024.

How do I apply?

Before you start your application, candidates are strongly advised to make informal contact with potential supervisors or subject area leads at The Open University. We recommend that you make contact at the earliest stage so that we can work with you to maximise your potential for a successful application. 

A full list of subject level contacts for pre-application enquiries can be found from Subject areas and academic contacts.

 In making an application you are applying to both the OOC DTP and to the OU. This means you will need to complete two application forms.

To apply for a studentship with the OU for DTP funding, you will need to complete the following:

  1. OU Application form - please indicate on the OU application form under Funding No. 25 “how are you intending to finance your studies” that you wish to be considered for Open-Oxford-Cambridge studentship funding.
  2. OOC DTP Application form – this includes research proposal and suitability to undertake the proposed research project.

To meet the Open University admission requirements, it is essential that you have:

  • Good academic qualifications in an arts and humanities subject (i.e. a 1st or 2:1 undergraduate degree from a UK institution or equivalent from a non-UK institution and/or a relevant Master's degree)
  • Demonstrable ability to produce high-level academic writing.
  • Evidence of the self-discipline and organizational skills required to complete a major academic project in three years and three months or part-time equivalent.
  • Willingness to participate in the broader intellectual community of The Open University (and, if selected, Open-Oxford-Cambridge DTP community as well).

Please send completed applications to by 9th January 2024 (midday, UK time) indicating your subject area in the title of your email.

Please note you are responsible for making sure that all required documents, including references, are submitted in time for your chosen deadline and meet the University’s requirements. If your application is submitted late, and/or it is incomplete, it will not normally be assessed.

Please use our application checklist to ensure you have included all the documents required:

  • Application forms (OOC and OU) - fully completed
  • Copies of degree certificates
  • Transcripts of academic qualifications
  • Certified translations of degree certificates and transcripts (if applicable)
  • Copies of English language qualification certificates - SELTS (if applicable)
  • Copies of your passport, or any other form of identification
  • Documentation supporting a change of name (if applicable)
  • Copy of research proposal / statement / project description
  • The contact details for two independent referees (to be provided on the application form). Please contact if you have queries about references
  • List of publications or evidence of research experience (if relevant)
  • Equal opportunities and HESA Monitoring Form (available on the OU application form)

Please note that final applications must be emailed to

What support is available for me to complete my application?

We advise that you contact potential supervisors or subject area leads at The Open University for support with your application. This provides an opportunity to build a relationship with academics in your discipline area to develop your project proposal and strengthen your application.

If you require advice on locating a potential supervise or a list of initial, subject level contacts for pre-application enquiries can be found from Subject areas and academic contacts.

Please also refer to the guidance for completing OOC application form on the DTP pages.

For generic academic enquiries, please contact Professor Sara Haslam (Professor of Twentieth- Century Literature and Director of Research Degrees at The Open University). Sara is the academic lead for The Open University within the Open-Oxford-Cambridge DTP, and is the consortium’s Associate Director:

For administrative enquiries related to the DTP or enquiries concerned with the application, please contact

Subject areas and academic contacts

Further Support and Resources

For specific information about AHRC terms and conditions, including eligibility rules, please visit UKRI website.

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