Health, Wellbeing, Social Work and Social Care

The School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care has a strong track record in applied health and social care research. We are funded by the Research Councils (ESRC and AHRC), the National Institute for Health Research and a wide range of trusts, charities and commercial organisations. In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, 69 per cent of our research submitted in the Social work and social policy category was judged to be world leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*). 73 per cent of our research was assessed as 4* or 3* for impact and 75 per cent for research environment.

Our research is organised into five distinct research themes: Ageing and later life; Children, young people, parenting and families; Death, dying and bereavement; Living with disability and long-term conditions; and Reproduction, sexualities and health. The School is committed to making a difference to health and social care practice and works in partnership with the stakeholders of research in all of our activities.

Key facts

  • A large community of researchers including PhD students and EdD and DHSC students.
  • A vibrant interdisciplinary and multicultural environment.
  • Opportunities and support provided for research students to attend workshops, seminars and conferences at other national and international institutions.
  • Considerable success in attracting external funding for research, including support from the ESRC, AHRC, the Department of Health, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Heritage Lottery Fund.


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.

Career prospects

Many of our doctoral students go on to build successful academic and non-academic careers. Many of them use the doctorate as a platform for continuing professional development in a wide variety of occupations at local, national, and international contexts.



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.

Ageing and later life

Carers and caring

Death, dying and bereavement

Living with disability and long-term conditions


Reproduction, sexualities and sexual health

Social work


Related topics

Consider linked topics from other research areas.

Sports and fitness

Wellbeing of children, youth and families


Life as a PhD student at The Open University has certainly been inspiring and fulfilling. Excellent supervision, a broad range of training and a stimulating environment have given me opportunity to grow as an independent researcher.  Doing my PhD has honestly been one of the best things I've done – as well as a great experience, I now have a solid foundation from which to develop further both personally and professionally.

Rebecca OwensPhD Student, Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies