Research course

Life, Health and Chemical Sciences

Open University · Department of Life Sciences

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.

Cell and molecular biomedicine; Chemical biology and bio-medicinal chemistry; Healthcare technologies – diagnostics; Materials chemistry; Neuroscience and behaviour; Research in STEM education

Months of entry


Course content

The School of Life, Health and Chemical Sciences brings together world-class researchers from the disciplines of neuroscience, psychology, cell and molecular biology, immunology, medicinal chemistry, materials chemistry and genetics.

The School undertakes to develop internationally recognised interdisciplinary research within key areas of the biomedical sciences, analytical sciences and materials chemistry. Our research focuses on the design of novel therapeutic agents and diagnostic tools, the molecular and cellular processes underlying diseases with significant impact in society, and the fundamentals of neurobiology and behaviour. Research in the School into novel materials is linked to multiple industrial applications, for example, healthcare technologies and sensor applications.

The School has a vibrant research culture that facilitates collaborative alliances across scientific disciplines. It provides a nurturing scientific home for doctoral and post-doctoral researchers at the outset of their careers and those seeking to achieve success in their fields. We are committed to providing an integrated research support system of laboratories, and highly skilled technical staff in order to meet our scientific aims: to continue to forge technological and translational development partnerships and to train the next generation of scientists. The additional value we can offer to candidates in these areas is the increasingly integrated approach taken by The Open University across STEM subjects. Cross-faculty collaboration provides unique opportunities for interdisciplinary research, science outreach and science communication.

Key facts

  • The School aims to establish an international reputation for pioneering research. Our submission as part of Unit of Assessment 3 to the University Research Excellence Framework in 2014 was rated as 16 per cent 4* and 62 per cent 3* overall.
  • Our success in attracting external research income is evidenced by our wide portfolio of sponsors including BBSRC, MRC, EPSRC, Nuffield, Wellcome Trust, MS Society, EU FP programmes and a number of industrial partners (e.g. MedImmune, Midatech, TAP Biosystems).
  • The School hosts a wide range of laboratories and facilities managed by experienced laboratory managers, and underpinned by support from dedicated technical staff.
  • We regularly publish high-quality articles in journals with high-impact factors such as Science, Advanced Materials, Nature, Neuroscience and PLoS journals.
  • All publications are deposited in Open Research Online (ORO) – the OU’s repository of research publications – to encourage an open access approach to the dissemination of research findings.
  • The School participates in an extensive network of collaborations with research centres, universities and commercial/charitable sector organisations both nationally and internationally across Europe, USA and Africa.

Fees and funding

Please see The Open University website

Qualification and course duration


full time
15 months
part time
24 months


part time
72 months
full time
48 months

Course contact details

Administrative support
+44 (0)1908 659036