Research course


Open University · The Open University Business School

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent) plus 120 credits in research methods training or, ideally, a masters degree in Research Methods (MRes), which is the usual precursor to PhD studies.

Months of entry


Course content

The Centre for Policing Research and Learning (CPRL) is a collaboration between The Open University and 18 UK police forces to create and use knowledge to improve policing. The Centre is located in and led from The Open University Business School and suppored by the Faculty of Business and Law jointly with the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. CPRL covers a range of academic disciplines relevant to policing, including psychology, engineering, web science, criminology, educational technology to support learning, leadership, management and organization studies. There are currently 49 academics across all faculties and institutes who are involved in research with CPRL. Within the Business School, research interests are in ethics, demand management, leadership, management, organizational learning, co-production of public services, city leadership and place leadership.

More information on CPRL can be found on the centre’s own website. PhD research is covered in more detail on the CPRL research area.

The Centre accepts PhD students who are full- or part-time. The latter may be serving police officers or police staff.

Potential research projects

Internally funded full-time research studentships are advertised in January (closing date end of March). In addition, the Centre is sometimes able to provide part-funding for part-time students where the applicant works in one of the partner police organizations of the Centre (details are circulated to partner police agencies) or enquiries can be made to

For police officers and staff, bursaries may be also available throught the College of Policing. We also welcome part- and full-time self-funded applications in areas relevant to policing.

Current/recent research projects

  • Professional ethics and the police Code of Ethics
  • Facial recognition
  • Super-recognisers in policing
  • Organisational change through a systems perspective
  • Social media practice by the police.

As well as linking to the key research aims of the Centre, the students also extend the academic/practitioner collaborative nature of the Centre by combining academics and police personnel on the supervisory teams.

Potential supervisors

We have a wide range of potential supervisors, so please browse the CPRL website to explore the current and earlier research projects to get an idea of current research projects by academics. Please email if you would like help in identifying a suitable supervisor.

The Annual Report of CPRL lists research projects and research publications in the previous year.

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


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

Course contact details

Anita Aldridge
+44 (0)1908 652845