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Research areas

Research degree areas

To find out more about ALL opportunities to study for a research degree at The Open University, choose the research area closest to your field of interest from the list on this page. This will tell you about the department, its research priorities and philosophy, recent publications, the research environment and facilities available.

Within each research area is a list of topics – click on these links to find out more about specific areas of research, current and prospective projects, entry requirements and available supervisors.

Many supervisors also have links to their profile pages so you can read about their published work and specific areas of interest. Each topic page provides contact details for academic advice – as most research degrees are subject to a competitive selection process, it’s a good idea to discuss your idea for a project/advertised studentship before you apply, so you can have the best chance of shaping your proposal/application to align with current research priorities.

If you have all the information you need in order to submit an application, visit How to apply.

If you want to apply for a funded studentship, these are advertised throughout the year on our Jobs website. You can also find out more about funding for research degrees by visiting Fees and funding.

The Research Degrees Team can give advice on the application process; you can contact us on +44 (0)1908 654882 or by email research-degrees-office.

Priority research areas

The Open University has named its four priority research areas aimed at addressing 21st century global challenges and promoting social justice.

Citizenship and Governance

Open University research is rethinking the changing relationships between citizens and authorities in the 21st century. Its scope ranges from global issues like migration, to the increasing scrutiny of private lives.

International Development

International Development research at the Open University is pioneering a different approach which we call ‘inclusive innovation’. We are working with poor and marginalised people developing their own solutions.


The Open University is one of the top three university space science centres in the U.K. OU scientists play key roles in iconic missions, such as Rosetta, the first comet landing.


The Open University is the European leader for massive innovations in learning technologies which have worldwide influence and deliver digital education at scale.