Research course

Politics and International Studies

Open University · Department of Politics and International Studies

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.

Citizenship and security; Comparative politics; Governing global security; International relations; Political theory

Months of entry


Course content

The Department of Politics & International Studies (POLIS) has an international reputation for research in international and national politics, citizenship, security, political concepts, ideology and discourse, cultural politics, development and environmental politics. POLIS’s research groupings are constituted around five areas: International relations and global politics; Citizenship studies; Critical security studies; Political theory and ideological analysis; and British and comparative politics. POLIS academics are also active in the OU Centre for Research on Citizenship, Identities and Governance (CCIG) and OpenSpace, centres that bring together researchers from across the social sciences in transdisciplinary research, promote both public engagement and knowledge exchange as well as contribute to theoretical and methodological innovation.

Key facts
  • In the 2013 Research Excellence Framework, the POLIS department was assessed as part of the OU’s transdisciplinary social science submission and other units of assessment such as Geography.
  • POLIS researchers are completing the four-year project Oecumene: Citizenship after Orientalism, and have led a three-year (2008-2011) Framework Seven Project in Social Sciences and Humanities on European citizenship (ENACT) and the two-year (2009-2011) International Collaboratory on Critical Methods in Security Studies (ICCM).
  • Currently, POLIS PhD students conduct research ranging from European citizenship, social citizenship, digital citizenship and critical security studies, to migration and democratisation.
  • POLIS members are either editors or board members of the following international journals: Citizenship Studies, Contemporary Political Theory, Contemporary Politics, Democratization, Economy and Society, Environment Space Place, Globalizations, International Political Sociology, Perspectives on European Politics and Societies, and the Review of International Studies.
  • POLIS researchers have recently contributed more than 400 (and growing) publications to the OU’s open access Online Research Repository (see below).

Department specialisms

Citizenship and security; Comparative politics; Governing global security; International relations; Political theory

Fees and funding

Please see The Open University website

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 Coordinator
+44 (0)1908 654524/654435