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Languages and Applied Linguistics

An image to illustrate studying languages and applied linguistics with The Open University.

The Language and Literacies Research Cluster is located in the Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET). Researchers in language and literacies view language as a powerful social and cultural phenomenon and adopt a range of socially oriented approaches towards the study of language across the lifespan. A wide range of theoretical and methodological approaches are used, including cognitive stylistics, complexity theory, corpus linguistics, discourse analysis, eyetracking, multimodal analysis, linguistic ethnography, metaphor theory, literary theory and criticism, semiotics, systemic functional linguistics, sociocultural theory, social network theory and sociolinguistics.

These approaches are used to explore language in many contexts such as language education, teaching and learning across the curriculum, social work, medical humanities, conflict resolution, language policy, digitally mediated communication, social media, language and globalisation.

Our work covers a range of exciting research topics with particular foci as follows:

  • Academic and professional literacies
  • Communication in social and healthcare contexts
  • Intercultural communication
  • Language and creativity
  • Language and globalisation
  • Language and policy
  • Language and the digital media
  • Language as a social semiotic in teaching and learning
  • Open educational practices
  • The teaching and learning of foreign and second languages in online and distance contexts
  • Transition Studies.

Key facts

  • You will have the opportunity to work with leading researchers in their fields
  • We have 16 PhD and 26 EdD students studying with us, forming a strong research student community
  • Students participate in a wide range of academic and social events
  • We offer a three-year full-time Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programme and a part-time Doctorate in Education (EdD) programme


Specialist software for language data analysis, including access to several large corpora, is available.

Further information

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

Mrs Wendy Whiteley
+44 (0)1908 858188

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 Languages and Applied Linguistics

Your questions

For advice about applying for a research degree, or sponsoring a research student, send us an email or call +44 (0)1908 654882.