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Ageing and later life

Studying ageing and later life with The Open University

Research in ageing and later life has a distinguished history within the School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care’s Centre for Ageing and Biographical Studies (CABS), which involves current and emeritus staff, doctoral students and associated academics from other institutions.

Research in this area is wide ranging and interdisciplinary, with a strong emphasis on qualitative and participative research methods that address experiences of ageing. Projects have been supported by a variety of funders including Research Councils, the Department of Health, local authorities, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and many other charities and voluntary organisations. Recent projects include work on where and how older people live, including: the role of kitchens; the needs and aspirations of older people living with vision impairments and with dementia; health effects of housing renovation and thermal upgrading; social isolation and loneliness; care and caring. Current projects include: exploring how older people learn about and use technologies (ICTs, wearables, haptics, online learning, digital skills). 

Qualifications available:

PhD or MPhil.  See also our Doctorate in Health and Social Care (DHSC)


For detailed information on current fees visit Fees and funding.

Entry requirements:

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent) plus either a masters degree or research methods training at masters level (or equivalent)

Potential research projects

  • Older people’s understanding and use of technologies
  • Digital health wearables for older people and carers
  • Digital skills for older people
  • Learning in later life
  • Policies and practices in ageing societies
  • Critical, historical or cultural approaches to ageing and later life
  • Ageing well and active and successful ageing
  • Living environments, life course, and ageing
  • Mental and physical health in later life
  • Understanding the age-friendly community
  • Intergenerational relations
  • Sexuality and later life
  • Global health inequalities in later life
  • Multiple morbidities in later life
  • Long term conditions and disability across the life course
  • Multidimensional poverty across the life course (e.g.,income, food and fuel poverty)
  • Attitudes of medical professionals towards older patients
  • Patient safety concerns in the management of older patient healthcare
  • Dignity in later life: experiences of people from ethnic minorities
  • Care and caring in later life
  • Improving care transitions for older people
  • Integrated care for older people
  • Personalisation in Health and Social Care
  • Use of personal profiles for people with dementia
  • Promoting care continuity for people living with dementia
  • Life with dementia (from the perspectives of people with dementia themselves and/or family members and carers)
  • End of life

Current/recent research projects

  • International Cancer Survival Gaps and the influence of Health Systems Performance
  • Creative Representations of Chronic Pain
  • Transitions in Kitchen Living: The lives of older lesbian women
  • The Stretched Generation – caring for children and older relatives in the same time frame
  • A case study of the statutory review system for older people in care homes in one local authority
  • Digital Health Platforms for Older People
  • End of life care and decision making (research funded by the Great Western Four Universities Initiative)

Further information

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

Dr Lindsay O’Dell, Director of Postgraduate Studies

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