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Research in this area embraces a diverse range of periods, topics and approaches. Our research extends from the early modern to the contemporary, includes all the main literary genres, and is characterised by a strongly interdisciplinary approach and ethos. The English discipline hosts two long-established research groups; Postcolonial Literatures and Book History and Bibliography with groupings in creative writing, literature and music, life-writing, and the writing of the romantic period. We currently have five full-time and 15 part-time PhD students, working on a range of subjects such as spirituality in children's literature, gardens in Rumer Godden's fiction, John Le Carré, representations of the First World War, Virginia Woolf, Louis MacNeice and broadcasting, African, Caribbean and South Asian Literature. Creative writing candidates are also working on novels with wide ranging themes and eras. We warmly welcome applications from prospective research students.

Key facts

  • 100 per cent of our English research was assessed as 4* or 3* for impact in the Research Assessment Framework (REF) 2014.
  • PhD students are supported by at least two supervisors and a strong programme of training in research skills; they participate in a lively research culture, with regular seminar programmes, conferences and workshops in Milton Keynes, London and other Open University national/regional centres.
  • The discipline has an excellent track record in winning external research funding and has led large-scale collaborative projects like The Postcolonial History of the Book, the Reading Experience Database, 1450-1945, Making Britain: South Asian Visions of Home and Abroad, 1870-1950, Beyond the Frame: Indian-British Connections 1858-1950,as well as supporting many individual research projects.
  • The discipline hosts two international literary journals (Wasafiri and The Katherine Mansfield Journal); staff members peer review and serve on the editorial boards of a wide range of other literary and interdisciplinary journals.
  • The discipline contributes to interdisciplinary research at national and international levels both through the work of individual researchers, and through its links with The Open University's Ferguson Centre.


The Open University houses publically accessible digital archives based on the English discipline's research projects:

  • The Reading Experience Database (RED)
  • Making Britain: South Asian Visions of Home and Abroad, 1870–1950
  • The Listening Experience Database (LED).

Further information

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

Postgraduate Admissions Tutor
+44 (0)1908 652092

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