Research course


Open University · Department of Sociology

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 governance; Culture, media and the social; Identities; Personal life and intimacies

Months of entry


Course content

The Department of Sociology has a strong interdisciplinary orientation (being the umbrella department in the Faculty of Social Sciences’ Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) in 2008 and the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2014, both of which were highly successful. It plays a leading role in shaping broad sociological agendas with the participation of staff in various research networks, in the editorship and/or editorial board membership of several leading academic journals in the UK and internationally.

The department has built a reputation for producing rigorous and innovative intellectual work in four main areas:

  • Markets, consumption and cultural economy
  • Multicultural life, citizenship, differences, political conflict and social divisions
  • Digital, material transformations and infrastructures
  • Psychoanalytic sociology and the psychosocial

Our work is marked by a serious commitment to active engagement in the world beyond the academy, publicly engaged with contributions to policy as well as theory. Our research culture is solid, intensive and flexible. The ESRC-funded highly successful research centre – Centre for Research in Socio-cultural Change (CRESC) – was based at The Open University and the University of Manchester (2004-2014). Over the last decade we have been the leading UK research centre for a very distinctive kind of sociology, based around theoretically informed, empirical case studies in interdisciplinary teams using innovative methods in order to tackle the complex dynamics of social and cultural change. We are currently developing post-CRESC activities funded by the University, running international research programmes and networks on religion, media and political violence; international broadcasting, social media and public diplomacy. Sociologists are also highly active in the OU Centre for Research on Citizenship, Identities and Governance (CCIG), currently running two of its Research Programmes: ‘Digital Citizenship’ and ‘Migration and Belonging’, as well as centrally contributing to theoretical and methodological innovation.

Students are valued members of the department, interacting with research-active academic staff and post-doctoral fellows based on campus in Milton Keynes, as well as with other staff and students in the Social Science Faculty and its associated research centres. We offer both degrees as Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil). We welcome applications from students with interests in all the four main areas of work we engage with.

Key facts
  • A locus of world-class research
  • A thriving interdisciplinary and supportive research environment
  • The department has a strong record of securing research funds from major UK research councils and the European Research Council

Department specialisms

Citizenship and governance; Culture, media and the social; Identities; Personal life and intimacies

Fees and funding

Please see The Open University website

Qualification and course duration


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


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

Course contact details

+44 (0)1908 654558