The School of Languages and Applied Linguistics has a pool of researchers in languages and literacies who view language as a powerful social and cultural phenomenon and adopt a range of socially oriented approaches towards the study of language across the lifespan. A wide range of theoretical and methodological approaches are used, including cognitive stylistics, complexity theory, corpus linguistics, discourse analysis, second language acquisition theory, eyetracking, multimodal analysis, linguistic ethnography, metaphor theory, literary theory and criticism, semiotics, systemic functional linguistics, sociocultural theory, social network theory and sociolinguistics.

These approaches are used to explore language in many contexts such as language education, teaching and learning across the curriculum, social work, medical humanities, conflict resolution, language policy, translation, digitally mediated communication, social media, language and globalisation.

Key facts

  • A large community of researchers including PhD students and EdD students.
  • A vibrant interdisciplinary and multicultural environment.
  • World leading research in the field of digital technologies for language learning and teaching research
  • Opportunities and support provided for research students to attend workshops, seminars and conferences at other national and international institutions.


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.


Specialist software for language data analysis, including access to several large corpora, is available.

State-of-the-art research laboratories are located in the Institute of Educational Technology; they include facilities for eyetracking, a games lab, observational technology, and specialist equipment for disability support.

Opportunity to join a vibrant international community of scholars interested in discourse studies; DiscourseNet International Association of Discourse Studies.

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.

Eye-tracking research on online language practices

Intercultural communication

Language and literacy in education

Language(s) learning, teaching and assessment

Open educational resources and practices


Related topics

Consider linked topics from other research areas.

Education futures

Literacy and social justice


I started my research with the idea of transforming the language learning experience of people studying in MOOCs. Ambitious, right? Well, thanks to the guidance of my three SUPERvisors, I am not that far to make that idea a reality. Plus, the opportunity to work with other OU academics to design and facilitate an Academic Spanish MOOC on FutureLearn helped me to understand the rigorous process of providing high-quality education at a large scale!

Barbara Conde GafaroPhD Student, Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies