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Research degrees
Research areas
Sustainable design and innovation

Sustainable design and innovation

Sustainable design and innovation research has a long legacy at The Open University. In the 1970s seminal work was undertaken framing up alternative technologies, particularly in the context of energy and sustainable policy (Boyle and Elliott). In the 1980s and 1990s work originated here on ‘green innovation’ theory and practice within commercial, social and policy contexts (Roy & Potter) and the UK’s first PhD on Ecodesign strategies was published (Dewberry,1996). Today in the Design Group we continue this tradition, emphasising the relational and multi-scale nature of sustainable design and innovation and the diverse landscapes it inhabits.

We welcome research applications that align to the following areas of research interest:

  • Products, Services and Systems (PSS)
  • Design for Sustainability
  • Sustainable Innovation
  • Sustainable Consumption
  • Circular Economies
  • Sustainable buildings, cities and infrastructures
  • Low-carbon housing and transport policy and design
  • Sustainable Fashion
  • Low-carbon mobilities
  • Smart grid and city developments
  • Sustainable leadership for Climate Change
  • Ecoliteracy and transformational learning.

Qualifications available

PhD or MPhil


For detailed information on current fees visit Research degree fees.

Funding: The OU’s Design Group is part of Government doctoral training programmes which fund doctoral studentships. Current funding for design studentships can be applied for via the Open Oxford Cambridge (OOC) Doctoral Training Partnership. Applications for both full and part time studentships have a deadline of early January each year for studentships that begin the following autumn. Further information can be found on the OOC website and via our design blog.

Entry requirements

A good first degree (2:1 minimum) and a Masters Degree in relevant subject areas. If you don’t hold a postgraduate degree we will consider equivalent experience of research in practice.

Current/recent research projects

Research projects will be advertised on the Design Blog when they are available. General applications that respond to the themes listed above are welcome.

Potential supervisors


Image of a sustainable building

Further information

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

Emma Dewsberry or Matthew Cook
Email: stem-ei-phd