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PhD Research

Mode: Part-time

Time: 3 - 7 years

A PhD is a Doctorate of Philosophy is the highest or degree that a student can achieve. It is carried out with the support of one or more expert academic supervisors, resulting in a thesis typically between 80,000 to 100,000 words in length.  Obtaining a PhD opens doors to the academic and research community along with giving you an added advantage within your career. Over the maximum time of 7 years part time (4 year full-time), you investigate a research topic or your choice.  The research techniques and methodologies you master will enable you to make a significant contribution to knowledge within your chosen subject area.

PhD Studentships

The Centre for Policing Research and Learning has offered a number of PhD studentships to police officers and staff whose force belongs to the Consortium.  Future opportunities to undertake a part-time PhD studentship may be available via the Consortium, which will be advertised on the Centre website.

In 2015, we had a strong field of applications from the police and three PhD studentships were offered to serving police personnel:

  1. Improving investigations through utilising technology, community and psychology:
    Charlotte Gaskell – National Crime Agency (PhD Student)
  2. Systems thinking and complexity science for policing:
    Phil Davies – Greater Manchester Police (PhD Student)
  3. Ethical practice in policing:
    Ben Hargreaves – Dorset Police (PhD Student), see PhD Experiences

PhD supervisory teams are a combination of academics and police personnel. Applications were judged both on their academic rigour and on how well they addressed a timely issue of relevance to the police. It is planned that further studentships will be offered.

If you are interested in finding out more about the research studentships, or for more information about the educational resources please contact the centre.

Research Areas

The Open University offers a wide variety of research topics to choose from. We have selected a few police related research areas below, which you can explore. You can find out more about the different departments, current and prospective research projects, entry requirements and available supervisors.If you are interested in studying a PhD please Contact the Centre by email. 

If you cannot find a subject of interest, then visit the Research Areas, where you will find plenty more topics for you to explore.

Find out more about ‘What is a PhD’, which gives you a brief overview of how it works, what you will get from a PhD and entry requirements.

PhD Experiences

Three Police Officers share their views of how doctorial study changed, or is changing their career.

Ben Hargreaves
Chief Inspector
Dorset Police


Dr Steven Chase
Assistant Chief Officer – Director of People
Thames Valley Police


Dr Ian Hesketh
Senior Police Advisor
College of Policing

Learn more about Ian Hesketh’s Experience of studying a part time PhD.