Research course


Open University · Department of English

Entry requirements

PhD: The normal minimum entrance requirement is an upper second class honours degree or master's 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 master's 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're not sure if you meet the entry requirements, please contact us (

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.

Book history; Creative writing; Postcolonial literatures; Twentieth-century and contemporary literatures.

Months of entry


Course content

Research in this area embraces a diverse range of periods, topics and approaches. Our research extends from the early modern to the contemporary, includes all the main literary genres, and is characterised by a strongly interdisciplinary approach and ethos. The English discipline hosts two long-established research groups; Postcolonial Literatures and Book History and Bibliography with groupings in creative writing, literature and music, life-writing, and the writing of the romantic period. We currently have five full-time and 15 part-time PhD students, working on a range of subjects such as spirituality in children's literature, gardens in Rumer Godden's fiction, John Le Carré, representations of the First World War, Virginia Woolf, Louis MacNeice and broadcasting, African, Caribbean and South Asian Literature. Creative writing candidates are also working on novels with wide ranging themes and eras. We warmly welcome applications from prospective research students.

Key facts

  • 100 per cent of our English research was assessed as 4* or 3* for impact in the Research Assessment Framework (REF) 2014.
  • PhD students are supported by at least two supervisors and a strong programme of training in research skills; they participate in a lively research culture, with regular seminar programmes, conferences and workshops in Milton Keynes, London and other Open University national/regional centres.
  • The discipline has an excellent track record in winning external research funding and has led large-scale collaborative projects like The Postcolonial History of the Book, the Reading Experience Database, 1450-1945, Making Britain: South Asian Visions of Home and Abroad, 1870-1950, Beyond the Frame: Indian-British Connections 1858-1950,as well as supporting many individual research projects.
  • The discipline hosts two international literary journals (Wasafiri and The Katherine Mansfield Journal); staff members peer review and serve on the editorial boards of a wide range of other literary and interdisciplinary journals.
  • The discipline contributes to interdisciplinary research at national and international levels both through the work of individual researchers, and through its links with The Open University's Ferguson Centre.

Fees and funding

Please see The Open University website for more information.

Qualification and course duration


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


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

Course contact details

Postgraduate Admissions Tutor
+44 (0)1908 652092