The Grand Union: Excellence and Innovation in Social Science Research Training

Open University

Closing Date: 19 January, 2018 - 17:00

The Open University invites applications for full- and part-time studentships in our suite of pathways within The Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership.

Funding information

These studentships are funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Grand Union Doctoral Partnership. The studentships are fully funded for 4 years full-time or 6 years part-time, covering tuition fees (at UK/EU level) and provides a stipend. Details can be found here:

Requirements of Candidate

You will have an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject. A Masters or equivalent experience is desirable. Eligibility criteria can be found here:

How to apply

If you would like to apply, follow the relevant link in the pathway descriptions below. Applications must be submitted by 17.00 on 19 January 2018.

There will be a two stage process; the first is to apply to the OU. There will then be a first stage selection process prior to nomination for funding from the Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership in competition with other partners’ potential students. The Grand Union Doctoral training Partnership is committed to funding the very best applicants; this will be decided at the second stage. If you are not selected for Grand Union support, yet your application is considered of an appropriate standard, it is possible that you might be nominated for other sources of funding.

Interviews for the first stage are likely to be in February 2018

Selection for the second stage are likely to be in late March 2018.

The Grand Union DTP and its pathways

The Grand Union DTP is an ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership uniting The Open University, the University of Oxford and Brunel University London.  The partnership builds on the recognised research and doctoral training strengths of all three institutions.  The DTP covers 24 subject areas (‘pathways’), themed into five broad clusters. Different pathways offer students opportunities to:

  • undertake a research Masters’ course followed by a PhD (known as ‘1+3’, ‘2+2’ or ‘2+3’ routes)
  • enter directly onto a PhD having already completed appropriate Masters-level training (‘+3’)
  • undertake doctoral study over a longer period (‘+4’) in order to gain Master-level training and skills in a flexible and personalised way, meeting individual students’ needs.

All OU pathways are available for students studying part-time as well as those studying full-time. Further details are included on the relevant pathway pages (see relevant links below).

OU Training pathways

Pathway 1. Citizenship – Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The Open University

Citizenship studies is an inter- and cross-disciplinary field in which citizenship is investigated as not only a contested legal or political status, but also as field of practices through which individuals and groups (regardless of their status) struggle for, demand, or claim, rights, recognition or redistribution. The varied dimensions of citizenship (and conversely, non-citizenship), the multiple actors involved in struggles over citizenship, and the numerous sites at which these struggles take place translates to a conceptually, empirically and methodologically rich field of study and research. 

For more information on this pathway and how to apply for a studentship, please follow this link: Citizenship Pathway

Pathway 2. Development Policy and Practice - Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The Open University

Development Policy and Practice at the OU challenges 'top-down' and aid-driven development policy models and promotes research into more participatory and inclusive approaches. In particular, its approach to 'inclusive innovation' focuses attention on how technological, economic and social innovations in food, health and education systems and sustainable energy infrastructures can bring benefits to marginalized groups. Underpinning this pathway is a history of research at the OU on the social and economic impacts of innovation and the political dimensions of development, all with a strong orientation to policy and practice.

For more information on this pathway and how to apply for a studentship, please follow this link: Development, Policy and Practice Pathway

Pathway 3. Geography - Lead University: Oxford; Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The Open University

The Open University’s Geography Department hosts the Open Space Research Centre, which fosters interdisciplinary research on geography and the environment, attracting academics from backgrounds in sciences, social sciences and humanities. As an inherently interdisciplinary subject, the Geography pathway is uniquely placed to provide comprehensive social sciences research training to address societal and environmental problems.

For more information on this pathway and how to apply for a studentship, please follow this link: Geography Pathway

Pathway 4. Security – Faculty of Business and Law, The Open University

The pathway encompasses the interdisciplinary research fields of security, privacy and surveillance. Topics include: policing, leadership and management in the police and security services, law relating to security, privacy and surveillance including international and human rights law, leadership in organisations related to security, privacy or surveillance, multi-agency working, block chains and cryptocurrencies (use and legal issues), law and neuroscience aspects of security, privacy or surveillance, entrepreneurship related to security, privacy or surveillance, critical management studies related to security, privacy or surveillance, social marketing relating to security, privacy or surveillance, ethics and corporate social responsibility relating to security, privacy or surveillance

The pathway will appeal to students who wish to pursue careers addressing the societal and commercial issues associated with security including government, regulators, NGOs, technology companies, the police, security services and academia.

The Open University’s Faculty of Business and Law hosts both the Centre for Policing Research & Learning. The Oxford Internet Institute hosts the Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre (GCSCC).

For more information on this pathway and how to apply for a studentship, please follow this link: Security Pathway

Pathway 5. Innovation in Learning- Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies, The Open University

This interdisciplinary pathway supports research into innovative approaches to learning, teaching and assessment. Especially welcome are research proposals which address openness, inclusion and wellbeing in the digital age and those which explore the boundaries between formal and informal learning. Our current research strengths (and supervision capacity) embrace:  the use of appropriate technologies for educational and professional purposes; assistive technology use by learners with disabilities; children’s digital lives; creativity and technology use; technologies for translation.  A key feature of the pathway is the wide span of approaches employed by its researchers.  They range from child-led research, using participative methods, through ethnography (online and in physical space), to the use of data analytics and eye tracking. We welcome research which makes imaginative use of diverse methodological combinations.  

For more information on this pathway and how to apply for a studentship, please follow this link: Innovation in Learning Pathway

Pathway 6. Health and Wellbeing - Lead University: Brunel; Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies, The Open University

The persistence of health and wellbeing inequalities requires a robust social science evidence base to improve policy and service responses and understandings of the social processes underpinning health worldwide. This pathway will equip cohorts of social science researchers to apply innovative methodologies that enhance our knowledge of health and wellbeing for diverse groups, in diverse contexts. The pathway offers rich opportunities for students to address pressing health issues across the life course in the UK, or to conduct their research in international settings in development contexts.

For more information on this pathway and how to apply for a studentship, please follow this link: Health and Wellbeing Pathway and Health and Wellbeing Pathway studentship with Public Health England

An application form and studentship related information are available from the links located above. Hard copies and access details for disabled applicants are available from:

Research Degrees Office,

Charles Pinfold,

Walton Hall,

Milton Keynes,


01908 654882

Equal Opportunity is University policy