Computing and Communications

The School of Computing and Communications conducts internationally excellent research. We welcome applications from strong students in any of our four main research themes:

  • Artificial Intelligence and Natural language processing
  • Human-centred computing
  • Multimedia & wireless communication technologies
  • Software engineering and design.

Our vibrant community of over 30 research students enjoys an infrastructure of seminars, research groups, conferences, labs and other resources.

Key facts

  • We conduct internationally excellent research. OU computing research performed strongly in the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021), with 73 per cent of outputs rated world-leading or internationally excellent, and with an excellent research environment (100 per cent rated world leading or internationally excellent).
  • Researchers include a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award Holders, Advisory Board Member for Microsoft Research Cambridge, Royal Academy of Engineering/Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship, past Chair of the European Association for Computational Linguistics, and former EPSRC Advanced Research Fellows.
  • Our researchers are editors of major journals including IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man and Cybernetics, IEEE Software, IET Image Processing, ACM Transactions on Information Systems, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, Expert Systems, and Machine Vision and Applications.
  • Our research students are ‘first-class citizens’, participating fully in the research life of the institution as well as in a coherent programme of weekly postgraduate seminars, mentoring and research skills training, annual research conferences, teaching opportunity and other online and face-to-face activities, in addition to individual supervision discussions.
  • Students conduct research on projects proposed by supervisors, although we also welcome proposals for other research topics that align with our research areas. We accept full-time and part-time students.
  • Students have opportunities to work with industry and other universities, building on our established collaborations and network of contacts.


Most of our full-time research students are based at our Milton Keynes campus; for details of residence requirements for different modes of study see Full-time study and Part-time study.


We have a wide range of powerful computing resources, and an infrastructure for development and prototyping. We have a variety of configurable lab spaces for technical and human studies, and development resources for new technologies.

Career prospects

Many of our PhD students go on to build successful academic careers in UK and overseas.



Find your research topic

Explore specific areas of research, current and prospective projects, entry requirements, fees and funding, available supervisors, how to apply and contact details for advice.

Artificial intelligence and natural language processing

Human-centred computing

Networking and communication technologies

Software engineering and design


Related topics

Consider linked topics from other research areas.

Computational social science

Data science and extended intelligence

Smart energy systems


Every day is a new and different journey to knowledge. Supervisors’ encouragement and help make it possible to keep me on track and keep moving towards my target despite some massive hurdles. The OU is located in a serene city that helps me to keep physically and mentally fit by wandering into the woods and strolling around beautiful lakes. Even during the tough days of the pandemic, we feel attached to the OU with its massive virtual activities and correspondence.

Nitu BharatiPhD Student, Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics