Degrees and courses for international students
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Research degrees
Being an OU research student
Supervision and support

Supervision and support

The Research Student Handbook contains the policies and Codes of Practice relating to your studies and how you’re supported.

As an OU research student, you’ll be assigned at least two supervisors, who are usually University academic staff. They’ll provide you with encouragement and constructive criticism throughout your studies, whilst monitoring your progress.

Supervision and how it works

Our MPhil and PhD students have two internal, OU supervisors. Professional Doctorate students, in some exceptional cases, may be assigned two external supervisors.

You may also have an additional external supervisor, either due to your location as a part-time student, or to contribute specific expertise to your supervisory team.

You’ll meet regularly with your supervisors to check your progress and provide critical feedback. Your registration is continued based on maintaining satisfactory progress and meeting all fee liabilities. Professional Doctorate students will have access to a dedicated website, which provides online resources, online seminars, forums and an area for submitting work and receiving feedback from supervisors.

Alongside your supervision, you’ll also attend induction and training events, visit our research Training and development page for more on the opportunities you’ll have.

Contact time and attendance

The number of meetings you’ll have with your supervisors will depend on the nature of your project and whether you’re studying full or part time.

Full-time students are required to study for a minimum of 37 hours a week.

Part-time students should normally expect to spend a minimum of 18.5 hours studying each week.

Pastoral care and support

In addition to your supervisors, you’ll be allocated a third-party monitor, whose role is to provide pastoral care as required. They’ll be independent of your supervisory team. You can discuss with them any issues or concerns you may have about any aspect of your studies, as well as confirming that everything is going well.

Formal planning and milestone meetings

Your regular supervisory meetings will make sure that your research is on track and your studies progressing. At the beginning of your project, you may spend a considerable period on a preliminary reading programme and literature survey. This would take place before you produce a significant piece of written work. Subsequent meetings will focus on data gathering, analysis and presentation.

Before each meeting, you’ll be asked to submit a written progress report, which serves as the focus for discussion. This might include your achievements and progress since the last meeting, as well as future plans or any issues or concerns you may have.

You can find out more about the training support you’ll have for thesis writing and planning on the Research Training and development page.

Students with disabilities

We’re proud to support 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 also be eligible for a Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA), which can help fund study costs relating directly from your disability. You can find more about DSA in the Research Fees and Funding section.

We’d encourage you to let us know as soon as possible about your additional requirements, so that we can support you fully. You can also discuss your needs with us at your interview, or with our Research Degrees Team at any time. Information about your personal circumstances is solely to make sure we offer the support you need and will have no bearing on the recruitment process.

OU PhD student, Vincent Deguin

PhD student, Vincent Deguin. Vincent’s researching the early stages of planet formation in the OU’s School of Physical Sciences.


Your questions

For advice about applying for a research degree, or sponsoring a research student, email the Graduate School or call +44 (0)1908 654882.