PhD areas of research

The OU Design Group has varied research interests. 

Contact the individual members of design staff to explore the areas of research interest listed here.

Building Information Management (BIM) and Lifecycle Decision Making
What is the potential for BIM to improve inclusion and equality, or flatten the hierarchy, within the design process?
How could BIM be used to develop data to assess life cycle impacts at early design stage in buildings?

Contact Dr Alice Moncaster

Computational and Digital Design
Computational methods can be useful for supporting the process of design, e.g. via generation of concepts or analysis of outcomes, and they can also be useful for modelling and understanding design processes, e.g. as a logical sequence of decisions or transformations. We’re interested in research that explores the use of formal/algorithmic methods in design and manufacture, such as generative design, shape grammars, computer-aided and computer-aided manufacture.

Contact Dr Iestyn Jowers

Design Beyond Smart
Socio-technical perspectives in sustainable innovation explore the urban environment as a smart, connected infrastructure delivering new innovation and enterprise in its wake. We’re interested in research that questions ideas of  ‘smart’ in the made and lived urban environments.

Contact Dr Emma Dewberry and Prof. Matthew Cook

Design Ecologies and Ecoliteracies
There is an urgent imperative to acknowledge Earth limits and respond to our current problems with ecological sensibility. In the shifting landscapes of products, services and systems, we need new wisdom, knowledge and skills to remake the made world in ecologically resilient ways. I am interested in discussing research projects that reimagine and redefine design literacies for sustainability – particularly product literacies. Email me if you are interested in doctoral research that explores: product sufficiency; circular design strategies; sustainable consumption; and design-led ecoliteracy (particularly for school-age children).

Contact Dr Emma Dewberry

Design collaboration and engagement

Designers work in collaboration with others, not just with users and makers, but often also across boundaries of discipline, expertise, or at the distance. This project investigates the challenges of working across these boundaries and identifies strategies and best practice to support collaboration in design and how we teach and learn to design.

Contact Dr Nicole Lotz

Co-designing futures

We are looking for PhD students to conduct research focussed on co-design, design activism or social innovation particularly in the context of placemaking.  This includes understanding the key conditions that influence collective design action, and the methods and practices that can facilitate it.

Contact: Theodore Zamenopoulos and Katerina Alexiou


Design research areas can also be viewed at OU Research Degree Prospectus