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Use our expertise

The Open University has proven expertise in research and knowledge exchange which can benefit your organisation. Our vibrant research community engages in world-class research and innovation which has impact in the real world. There are many different ways we can work collaboratively to access this knowledge base and help meet your organisation’s needs.


OU academics regularly engage in consultancies with businesses and other bodies, to provide applied advice and solutions to a range of challenges. A consultancy with The OU will enable you to access expertise to undertake a wide range of research and consultancy projects tailored to your requirements.

Aberdeen City Council

Aberdeen City Council chose The OU in Scotland as its preferred provider to undertake a post-occupancy evaluation of Aberdeen’s new low-energy social housing. As the first council houses built in Aberdeen for a generation, the council was keen to ensure they were energy efficient and also to learn from the experience of residents to inform future developments. 

Our approach was to work directly with residents to understand their experiences, using workshop and interviews and technical monitoring to help inform the design of future low-energy housing. Different from the usual research into energy, this focussed very much on residents' experience and how they have adapted to new energy technologies.

OU research develops sector skills

'Super Recognisers' events

Super-recognisers and expert witnessesEvidence from ‘super-recognisers’ and ‘expert witnesses’ was explored in two OU events with the Metropolitan Police and UK academics. 

We co-hosted a Super-Recognisers Conference with Edinburgh Napier University, looking at the psychology of face processing and issues that the Met’s Super Recogniser Unit have faced when giving evidence in court. 

Super recognisers, who include police officers trying to capture the most wanted criminals, can recall up to 95% of faces they have seen, compared to the average person's recall of 20%. 

A pre-conference workshop at The OU in Scotland office included speakers from Glasgow Caledonian University, The OU’s Forensic Psychology Research Group and The OU’s Centre for Policing Research and Learning.

They considered the meaning of being an expert witness, research on facial mapping method issues, and legal issues around the use of ‘expert evidence’ in Scottish courts. 

Pictured above right, among conference participants, are The OU's Dr Martin Thirkettle, Dr Gini Harrison, Dr Hayley Ness and Dr Ailsa Strathie (sixth right to third right). Photo by Dr Jason Rutter.

Supporting the Health and Social Care sector

Research into health inequalities, the social isolation and loneliness of older people, and mental health and social support has been explored in OU events across Scotland. These have included: 

  • Seminars by The OU, University of the West of Scotland and inclusion charity Cyrenians in Edinburgh and Dumfries, addressing isolation and loneliness among older people and the impact this can have on their physical and mental wellbeing.
  • A one-day conference supported by The OU in Stirling, in partnership with Voluntary Health Scotland, gave members of the NHS, voluntary and charity organisations, local authorities and academia an insight into how research can help to understand and close the gap in health inequalities. Among those presenting were: the NHS, Drink Wise Age Well, The OU, Glasgow Caledonian University and the Universities of Strathclyde, Stirling and Glasgow.
  • A seminar in Dundee jointly hosted with Voluntary Health Scotland and Support in Mind Scotland (the first of a series), linking research into the vital role social support plays in maintaining mental health and wellbeing with practice.

Dementia friendly stores

The Herald Higher Education AwardsOpen University research and expertise in dementia helped to deliver training workshops for ASDA’s community ambassador staff. We also developed in-store material to help staff support customers with dementia. This project won an inaugural Herald Higher Education Award (July 2015) in the 'Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community' category.


Caring Counts in the Workplace

The free online reflection and planning course, Caring Counts in the Workplace, was developed by The OU in Scotland using our expertise in working with carers and our knowledge of developing online learning material.  Created for managers and policy makers, it is aimed at supporting carers in the workforce, and was developed in collaboration with the Equal Partners in Care project (Scottish Social Services Council and NHS Education for Scotland) and Carers Scotland. This resource is for employers who recognise that fostering an environment where each and every member of staff feels supported in the workplace is good employment practice, and who understand the benefits of having 'carer positive' policies and working practices.

Public engagement events

OU experts are involved in public engagement activities with external partners.

Visitors at leading Edinburgh attraction Dynamic Earth were taken on a journey into the world of space science by a 10-strong team from The Open University’s School of Physical Sciences.

Rosetta / Dr Colin Snodgrass The two-day August 2016 showcase was part of Dynamic Earth's Summer Space-tacular programme. Space is one of The OU’s priority research areas and OU astronomers and planetary scientists engaged people of all ages in fun, interactive activities, answered questions and shared their specialist knowledge.

There was the chance to observe the night sky in an inflatable planetarium, get up close to Rosetta spacecraft and Philae lander models, find out what a comet was made of, and zoom in on surface views of Mars.

Topics for bite-sized OU talks included moons and astrobiology and visitors were also able to find out information about OU courses and take away prospectuses.

Innovation Voucher Scheme

The Open University in Scotland has a successful track record of using both the Scottish Funding Council-funded Innovation Voucher, and Follow-On Voucher, Schemes. These are cost-effective ways for Scottish small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) to collaborate with experts from higher education institutions (HEI), and use innovative research and development solutions to create new products, services or processes that will benefit the business, the HEI and the Scottish economy.

Contact us

If you have an idea for working with The OU in Scotland on research or knowledge exchange, please
email scotland

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