Research course

STEM Education and engagement

Open University · Institute of Educational Technology

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.

e-assessment (technology-enhanced assessment) - Inquiry-based science learning - Online science experimentation - Public engagement in STEM.

Months of entry


Course content

The Open University is one of Europe’s largest providers of university-level online STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) programmes. The eSTEeM unit works across University boundaries to bring together STEM academics to innovate, evaluate and research in STEM teaching and learning. We work closely with external partners across the UK and the globe to promote STEM and STEM education and to offer OU responses to national and international STEM needs for HE.

The use of digital technologies provides a wide range of opportunities to transform the design and delivery of STEM subjects in higher education, with learning analytics tools providing a potentially rich source of information on how students interact with learning resources. How digital technologies can be best exploited to maximise student understanding of STEM concepts and mastery of skills requires structured pedagogic research. The Open University provides a stimulating environment in which to research world-leading pedagogic development.

Our innovation and research includes all relevant aspects of pedagogy with a strong emphasis on e-learning. Recent major funding has allowed us to create the Wolfson OpenScience Laboratory that enables students to carry out authentic practical science activities online. We are guided by the priorities of access and authenticity: real data through realistic interfaces.

If you are interested in research into the teaching of STEM subjects, eSTEeM offers a unique and stimulating environment with links to practical innovation.

Key facts

  • The OU leads in the use of electronic media in teaching STEM subjects
  • The OU works in partnership with academics from many countries – we influence teaching developments worldwide
  • eSTEeM works closely with the OU’s Institute of Educational Technology and Knowledge Media Institute; our research is profoundly multidisciplinary
  • The Wolfson OpenScience Laboratory is a global initiative which will have major impact on access to education


The OU’s distance-learning systems provide a powerful means of gathering data on student behaviour. Learning analytics applied to large student populations is a core part of our methodology.

Department specialisms

e-assessment (technology-enhanced assessment) - Inquiry-based science learning - Online science experimentation - Public engagement in STEM.

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

Course contact details

Administrative support
+44 (0)1908 659036