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Computing and Communications

An image to illustrate studying computing at The Open University.

We research the practical problems of what software is, how technologies are developed, how they are used and spoken about, and how they are taught. Our diverse research community, embodied in the Centre for Research in Computing (CRC), spans the OU and encompasses software, systems, emerging technologies, knowledge media, human-centred, social and educational perspectives. We have a mixed research portfolio, embracing science, engineering and socio-technical approaches. Our active themes include: software engineering and design, natural language engineering, interaction design, multimedia, social computing, semantic web services, mobile and ubiquitous systems, music computing, computing education and next-generation networks. Our vibrant community of over 70 research students enjoys an infrastructure of seminars, research groups, conferences, labs and other resources.

Key facts

  • We conduct internationally excellent research. OU computing research performed strongly in the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), with 75 per cent of outputs rated world-leading or internationally excellent, and with an excellent research environment (100 per cent rated world leading or internationally excellent).
  • Researchers include a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award Holders, Advisory Board Member for Microsoft Research Cambridge, Royal Academy of Engineering/Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship, past Chair of the European Association for Computational Linguistics, and former EPSRC Advanced Research Fellows.
  • CRC researchers are editors of major journals including IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man and Cybernetics, IEEE Software, IET Image Processing, ACM Transactions on Information Systems, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, Expert Systems, and Machine Vision and Applications.
  • Our research students are ‘first-class citizens’, participating fully in the research life of the institution as well as in a coherent programme of weekly postgraduate seminars, mentoring and research skills training, annual research conferences and other online and face-to-face activities, in addition to individual supervision discussions.
  • Students conduct research on projects proposed by supervisors, although we also welcome proposals for other research topics that align with our research areas. We accept full-time and part-time students.
  • Students have opportunities to work with industry and other universities, building on our established collaborations and network of contacts.


We have a wide range of powerful computing resources, and an infrastructure for development and prototyping. We have a variety of configurable lab spaces for technical and human studies, and development resources for new technologies.

Further information

If you have an enquiry specific to this research area please contact:


For general enquiries please contact the Research Degrees Team via the link under 'Your Questions' on the right of the page.


Research publications by Open University staff are available through Open Research Online (ORO), the university's repository of research publications and other research outputs. ORO can be searched or browsed by staff name or subject.

The following list, generated from ORO, provides a flavour of the most recently published work in Computing and Communications