INT-OU PhD Programme



The Open University

The Open University (OU) is a world leader in modern distance learning, the pioneer of didactic methods that enable people to achieve their career and life goals studying at times and in places to suit them. It promotes educational opportunity and social justice by providing high quality university training to anyone who wishes to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential (


Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori (INT)

Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori is a Comprehensive Cancer Centre based in Milan, dedicated to both cancer research and patient care. It was the first italian cancer centre and remains the most prominent public organization in the field. Research at INT focuses on all the major oncological areas, with multidisciplinary programmes ranging from basic to clinical, healthcare and translational research, coordinated by teams with a variety of clinical and scientific backgrounds.

INT-OU PhD Programme

The Open University’s Affiliated Research Centre (ARC) Programme supports the provision of doctoral training in the UK, Europe and worldwide, making possible to pursue a research degree from Open University in a centre of research excellence (

Students are enrolled to join ongoing projects in different fields of cancer research (Molecular immunology, Molecular targeting, Epidemiology, Molecular pharmacology, Bioinformatic and Biostatistics, Biomarkers…), coordinated by INT Principal Investigators.

The INT-OU PhD Programme offers a variety of activities dedicated to support PhD students career development. Indeed, courses dedicated to PhD Programme participants are organized every year on cross-cutting themes, both scientific (bioinformatics, biostatistics, pathology) and on “soft skills” (skills assessment, etc). Moreover, many scientific seminars and workshops relating to professional advancement (paper and grant writing, communication), and other scientific seminars of particular interest are organized throughout the year.

Importantly, OU-PhD Students have a program of journal clubs and data session which gives the opportunity to every student to discuss recent scientific papers with peers with different expertise and present their project data to all researchers from the Institute.  


Students in ARCs are either registered to study full-time or part-time when undertaking a MPhil or PhD. The maximum registration for a PhD programme is four years with full-time study, or eight years with part-time study.


The applications are open twice a year with an open call published on the INT website inviting submissions within specific research areas previously indicated to the ARC Research Degrees Coordinator by Principal investigators supporting the PhD position.

Applications are invited from graduates with approximately the Italian equivalent to a first class master’s degree in the related subjects and good knowledge of written and spoken English. INT is committed to equal opportunity and the availability of several contacts before the selection allows accommodation of diverse needs of applicants.

All PhD students are initially registered for a Master of Philosophy (MPhil), and the PhD registration is confirmed after the successful completion of an upgrade assessment (at the end of year 1 for full-time students and year 2 for part-time study). Students will be registered for a PhD when this upgrade is approved by OU.

Applications should include:

  • CV with detailed information on the master’s thesis.
  • University certificate (M.Sc., M.D. or equivalent) with the list of exams taken. A grade of 106/110 or higher is recommended for admission to the PhD program. Students with graduation marks of less than 106 need to present a statement concerning the motivations and skills that make them suited to the PhD programme.
  • Candidates should have an English language proficiency corresponding to the C1 level of CEFR– 6.5 IELTS score (at least score 6 in each section).
  • Short outline (max 2 A4 pages) of the applicant’s research project for the PhD (in English).

Evaluation of the applications

A panel of internal reviewers, including the Research Degree Coordinator, evaluates whether the submitted applications meet the eligibility criteria in the call.

The eligible candidates will be required to:

  • Give a short oral presentation of their project (max 15 min; 6 slides).
  • Discuss a scientific paper that will be provided ahead of the interview (max 10 minutes; 3-4 slides
  • may be prepared).
  • Demonstrate advanced English language proficiency.

The evaluation committee will assess the quality of the presentation, the candidates’ scientific preparation and potential for research, as well as their English speaking and writing skills, and will submit a recommendation for registration to the OU.

Registration of the accepted students

After notification of the internal acceptance, the student must transmit the following documents to the School Office:

  • Application and Applicant Recommendation Form for ARCs
  • Research Project
  • Ethical approval documentation (for thesis projects requiring the use of human samples or animals)
  • The completed Supervisor CV forms of the Director of Studies and the other members of the supervision team
  • 2 reference letters from previous Supervisors
  • A copy of the IELTS or Linguaskill (Cambridge Assessment English) certificate

Registration for a research degree is subject to the Open University approval, upon reception of the definitive application forms.