Research course

Computing and Communications

Open University · Department of Computing

Entry requirements

PhD: 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. You should also have experience of academic research in the previous four years, normally in the form of either a masters degree in research methods, an undergraduate degree with a research element in the final year, or work-related experience with evidence through research reports. If you have a qualification from outside the UK, or you are not sure if you meet the entry requirements, please contact us by email before applying. MPhil: Applicants should normally hold, or be expecting to obtain, a bachelors degree with at least first or upper-second class honours, or an equivalent qualification. However, entry requirements differ between academic areas, and sometimes a taught masters degree is also required. The research topic pages (in the menu on the right of our Research areas page) give details of specific entry requirements, and provide contact details to discuss your suitability for the MPhil with a member of academic staff.

Months of entry


Course content

We research the practical problems of what software is, how technologies are developed, how they are used and spoken about, and how they are taught. Our diverse research community, embodied in the Centre for Research in Computing (CRC), spans the OU and encompasses software, systems, emerging technologies, knowledge media, human-centred, social and educational perspectives. We have a mixed research portfolio, embracing science, engineering and socio-technical approaches. Our active themes include: software engineering and design, natural language engineering, interaction design, multimedia, social computing, semantic web services, mobile and ubiquitous systems, music computing, computing education and next-generation networks. Our vibrant community of over 70 research students enjoys an infrastructure of seminars, research groups, conferences, labs and other resources.

Key facts

  • We conduct internationally excellent research. OU computing research performed strongly in the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), with 75 per cent of outputs rated world-leading or internationally excellent, and with an excellent research environment (100 per cent rated world leading or internationally excellent).
  • Researchers include a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award Holders, Advisory Board Member for Microsoft Research Cambridge, Royal Academy of Engineering/Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship, past Chair of the European Association for Computational Linguistics, and former EPSRC Advanced Research Fellows.
  • CRC researchers are editors of major journals including IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man and Cybernetics, IEEE Software, IET Image Processing, ACM Transactions on Information Systems, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, Expert Systems, and Machine Vision and Applications.
  • Our research students are ‘first-class citizens’, participating fully in the research life of the institution as well as in a coherent programme of weekly postgraduate seminars, mentoring and research skills training, annual research conferences and other online and face-to-face activities, in addition to individual supervision discussions.
  • Students conduct research on projects proposed by supervisors, although we also welcome proposals for other research topics that align with our research areas. We accept full-time and part-time students.
  • Students have opportunities to work with industry and other universities, building on our established collaborations and network of contacts.


We have a wide range of powerful computing resources, and an infrastructure for development and prototyping. We have a variety of configurable lab spaces for technical and human studies, and development resources for new technologies.

Fees and funding

Please see The Open University website for more information

Qualification and course duration


full time
36 months
part time
72 months
distance learning
variable months


part time
24 months
full time
15 months
distance learning
variable months

Course contact details

Dr Alistair Willis
+ 44 (0)1908 653846