The Geography & Environmental Studies Department at The Open University has a record of producing innovative research and teaching in both human and environmental geography. Research is conducted through the OpenSpace Research Centre, which encourages a vibrant research environment, drawing on research expertise both within and beyond The Open University and academia

Oxford’s School of Geography and the Environment consists of three thriving research centres: the Environmental Change Institute, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment and Transport Studies Unit. They form a vibrant research community for postgraduates.

Students at both institutions can benefit from the interdisciplinary seminar series offered by these research centres. As an inherently interdisciplinary subject, the Geography pathway is uniquely placed to provide comprehensive social sciences research training.

The 1+3.5 route is based on four MSc courses at Oxford, followed by a 3 and a half year doctorate (DPhil) at Oxford or PhD at OU:

The 2+2.5 route consists of an Oxford MPhil with the first year drawn from one of the four MSc courses:

The second year of the MPhil provides students with the experience of a more sustained piece of research, again followed by an Oxford DPhil or an The Open University PhD:

The +4 route is for students with Master’s degrees that do not fulfil the ESRC’s 2022 Training Guidelines, while the +3.5 route is for those with Master’s degrees that have provided comprehensive research training.


Oxford MSc teaching involves practitioners from government departments, charities, national and international organisations. This includes a policy and practitioners’ workshop, where local firms present their work.

DPhil students can also participate in research-based internships, undertaking their doctoral research as a placement with a firm or third sector organisation within or beyond Oxford. To date, ESRC scholars in Geography have interned with a Police and Crime Commissioner, NGOs in Oxford and India, the UK Parliament and a risk advisory firm in China.

The ECI’s specialised Internship Programme aims to introduce a group of graduates to opportunities for sustainability-oriented work in businesses, government and the third sector, and equip them for sustainability careers. Recently students have been placed in eight different countries in organisations including GlaxoSmithKline, Stockholm Environment Institute, the World Economic Forum, the United Nations Environment Programme, the Red Cross, and the Carbon Trust.

At the OU Geography and Environmental Studies students have access to teaching opportunities with the Brilliant Club and participate in module teams delivering distance teaching. They also have access to funding from Santander bank for internships and participate in research-based internships including placements with international NGOs or UK Parliament.

Doctoral students from Oxford and The Open University enter high-level careers in leading inter-governmental organisations and NGOs.

Pathway leaders:
Dr Alex Vasudevan and Dr Carry Van Lieshout

Contacts: and 

The Open University

Department of Geography
Structure of provision: 1+3.5 (MSc at Oxford, PhD at OU), 2+2.5 (MPhil at Oxford, PhD at OU), +4

University of Oxford

School of Geography and the Environment (SOGE)
Structure of provision: 1+3.5, 2+2.5, +3.5, +4