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.

British and comparative politics; Citizenship studies; Democracy and social movements; International relations and global politics; Political ideas.

Months of entry


Course content

Politics and International Studies (POLIS) at The Open University has an international reputation for research in British and comparative politics, citizenship, democracy and social movements, international relations and global politics, and political theory. Research within POLIS is organised around five corresponding areas: British and comparative politics; citizenship studies; democracy and social movements; international relations and global politics; and political ideas. POLIS academics are also active in the OU Centre for Research on Citizenship, Identities and Governance (CCIG) and OpenSpace, transdisciplinary research centres that bring together researchers from across the social sciences, promote public engagement and knowledge exchange, and contribute to theoretical and methodological innovation within social science research.

Key facts

  • Researchers in POLIS have recently led a four-year, ERC funded project titled, Oecumene: Citizenship after Orientalism, a three-year Framework Seven Project on European Citizenship (ENACT), and a two-year International Collaboratory on Critical Methods in Security Studies (ICCM).
  • POLIS PhD students conduct research on issues including European citizenship, British political institutions, social movements, migration and asylum, and democratisation.
  • POLIS members are editors or board members of international academic journals, including: Citizenship Studies, Contemporary Political Theory, Contemporary Politics, Democratization, Economy and Society, Environment Space Place, Globalizations, International Political Sociology, and European Politics and Society.
  • POLIS researchers have recently contributed more than 400 (and growing) publications to the OU’s open access Online Research Repository.

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

Discipline Convenor
+44 (0)1908 654472