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An image to illustrate studying sociology with The Open University

The Sociology discipline at The Open University has a strong interdisciplinary orientation and plays a leading role in shaping broad sociological agendas with the participation of staff in various research networks, in the editorship and/or editorial board membership of several leading academic journals in the UK and internationally.

We have built a reputation for producing rigorous and innovative intellectual work in and across the following main areas:

  • Markets, consumption and cultural economy
  • Multicultural life, citizenship, differences, political conflict and social divisions
  • Psychoanalytic sociology and the psychosocial
  • Sociology of health and science and technology studies
  • Digital cultures, social networks and political change
  • Migration, gender and generation
Our work is marked by a serious commitment to active engagement in the world beyond the academy, publicly engaged with contributions to policy as well as theory. Our research culture is solid, intensive and flexible. The ESRC-funded highly successful research centre – Centre for Research in Socio-cultural Change (CRESC) – was based at The Open University and the University of Manchester (2004-2014). Over the last decade we have been the leading UK research centre for a very distinctive kind of sociology, based around theoretically informed, empirical case studies in interdisciplinary teams using innovative methods in order to tackle the complex dynamics of social and cultural change. We are currently developing post-CRESC activities funded by the University, running international research programmes and networks on religion, media and political violence; migration and media (refugees and smartphone use). Sociologists are also highly active in the OU Centre for Research on Citizenship, Identities and Governance (CCIG), currently running two of its Research Programmes: ‘Digital Citizenship’ and ‘Migration and Belonging’, as well as centrally contributing to theoretical and methodological innovation.

Students are valued members of the discipline, interacting with research-active academic staff and post-doctoral fellows based on campus in Milton Keynes, as well as with other staff and students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and its associated research centres. We offer both degrees as Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil). We welcome applications from students with interests in all the four main areas of work we engage with.


Key facts

  • A locus of world-class research
  • A thriving interdisciplinary and supportive research environment
  • The department has a strong record of securing research funds from major UK research councils and the European Research Council

Further information

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

Discipline Convenor
+44 (0)1908 654558

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 Sociology

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.