Faculty of Social Sciences
Welcome to a very special area of The Open University! The Faculty of Social Sciences is a vibrant academic community both in terms of teaching and research. In terms of teaching, we have nearly 30,000 students studying our courses each year and a superb record of excellence in the Teaching Quality Review Process, with all six Social Sciences departments achieving 'excellent' ratings. In terms of research, we have major successes in research including hosting major ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) funded programmes and by having 55% of Faculty research recognised as being world leading or internationally excellent in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).
In spite of increasing competition from other universities for part-time adult students, our Level 1 course Introducing the Social Sciences (DD101) recruits more students than any other and its predecessor broke all OU records by registering 13,800 students in its first year of presentation. Our Psychology courses recruit students in extremely high numbers, with more OU students than from any other UK University going on to obtain British Psychological Society recognition.
We are also successful in Research. Since the RAE in 2001 we have gained prestigious ESRC support to set up, in partnership with the University of Manchester, a new research centre to study the changing nature of UK society. Another major ESRC research programme on identities and social action is directed by Prof Margie Wetherell from our Department of Psychology. The Faculty has also benefited from University funded research initiatives with involvement in several research centres of excellence: the Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance (CCIG), the International Centre for Comparative Criminological Research (ICCCR) - with the Faculty of Arts - ,the OpenSpace Research Centre and IKD: Innovation, Knowledge and Development - with the Faculty of Mathematics, Computing and Technology and the OU Business School.
This success in research feeds directly into our teaching and helps us to produce courses that are world class, and which reflect developments at the frontiers of research and scholarship. One of our hallmarks is that we do our utmost to ensure that our successful research informs course production so that our students benefit from that leading edge in research.
These successes are dependent on recruiting and retaining excellent staff and on managing ourselves in ways which combine originality and innovation in research and curriculum with the cost-effective production and presentation of courses. The Faculty of Social Sciences at The Open University is an exciting place to work. I hope very much that you will find that it is also an exciting place to study.
Prof Kevin Hetherington, Dean and Director of Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences