The Design Group incorporates a range of expertise across the spectrum of design research and reflects a non-discipline-specific approach to understanding design and design processes. Our research is wide-ranging, often drawing on, and combining with, other disciplines. We work in many sectors and contexts including product and manufacturing, fashion, urban and built environment, participatory design, sustainability, innovation, energy and climate change. Our teaching and research are mutually reinforcing. Over the last 50 years the group has developed world-leading expertise in the processes, approaches and tools for delivering design education at a distance. The OU Design Group has performed consistently well in National audits of research quality, repeatedly appearing in the top ten UK institutions for research quality in Design. We are a supportive community of researchers and welcome new members of the group, whether they are staff or students: it’s a great place to do a PhD!

Recent Publications

View recent publications by design academics or visit our group on Open Research Online.

Project Pages

Past and active project pages, maintained by design academics and research project groups give a flavour of the depth and breath of design research at the Design Group.

Modelling ICT and sustainable education:
Smart Cities Evaluation frameworks:
Unite: Novice Interaction Design Behaviour in Botswana and the UK:
Prototyping Utopias:
Empowering Design Practices:
Media, Community and the Creative Citizen:
Scaling up Co-design Research and Practice:
Valuing Community-Led Design:
Co-designing Asset Mapping:
Shock (not) Horror:
Business as Unusual: Designing products with consumers in the loop:

Looking to do a PhD in Design?

The OU Design Group has a broad range of research interests.  If you are interested in doing a PhD at OU Design, please contact the relevant member of the design academic staff to discuss your initial research ideas. This ensures that we can support you in your application and make links to the Design group’s current research scope and expertise.

Funded part-time and full-time doctoral studentships are available. This is a very competitive process and we advise potential applicants to discuss their project ideas in advance with their potential supervisor. OU design studentships are currently available through the AHRC Doctoral Training programme (2019-2023), the Open-Oxford-Cambridge (OOC) consortium. Eligibility criteria for funded studentships are described on the OOC website.

The deadline for applicants for a October 2021 start date is 12 noon on 12th January, 2021.

The OU application process for OOC studentships is documented here

For further information on doing a PhD in Design at the Open University, contact Dr Emma Dewberry