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Our research

The Open University has named its four priority research areas aimed at addressing 21st century global challenges and promoting social justice.

Priority research areas

Citizenship and Governance

OU research into citizenship and governance is rethinking the changing relationships between states and citizens in the 21st century. It focuses on global issues like migration, and on the private sphere where people’s intimate lives are increasingly scrutinized and open to public policy and corporate intervention.


The Open University is the European leader for massive scale innovations in learning technologies which break down barriers globally. Our research in Technology Enhanced Learning is driving innovations in teaching, learning and assessment which have worldwide influence.

International Development

International development research at the OU is pioneering a different approach which we call ‘inclusive innovation’. We are involving poor and marginalised people in developing their own solutions, and working with them to bring about a fairer and sustainable world.


Using cutting-edge technology, OU space scientists are unlocking the secrets of the universe and are helping to overcome practical challenges here on Earth, as well as contributing to the growth of the space sector of UK economy.  

Prof Kevin Hetherington, the OU's Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Academic Strategy), examines the new priority research areas in more detail in the video below. 

Faculties and research institutes

Our research is conducted in faculties and research institutes covering a wide spread of disciplines, from arts to sciences.

The University has a tradition of research across academic boundaries, which is supported through our four priority areas.