The Sociology discipline at The Open University has a strong interdisciplinary orientation and plays a leading role in shaping broad sociological agendas with the participation of staff in various research networks, in the editorship and/or editorial board membership of several leading academic journals in the UK and internationally.

We have built a reputation for producing rigorous and innovative intellectual work in and across the following main areas:

  • markets, consumption and cultural economy
  • multicultural life, citizenship, differences, political conflict and social divisions
  • psychoanalytic sociology and the psychosocial
  • sociology of health and science and technology studies
  • digital cultures, social networks and political change
  • migration, gender and generation.

Our work is marked by a serious commitment to active engagement in the world beyond the academy, publicly engaged with contributions to policy as well as theory. Our research culture is solid, intensive and flexible. Over the last decade we have been the leading UK research centre for a very distinctive kind of sociology, based around theoretically informed, empirical research in interdisciplinary teams using innovative methods in order to tackle the complex dynamics of social and cultural change.

We have a lengthy track record in the field of the sociology of culture, difference and diversity with a keen interest in using research to tackle inequalities. We are currently engaged in international research programmes in a range of interdisciplinary fields including: markets, inclusion and public space; gender and migration, refugees and media, technology and development, international media and communications, cultural dialogue and diplomacy. Sociologists are also highly active in the Open University’s Citizenship and Governance strategic research initiative on Justice and Borders.

Students are valued members of the discipline, interacting with research-active academic staff and post-doctoral fellows based on campus in Milton Keynes, as well as with other staff and students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and its associated research centres. We offer both degrees as Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil). We welcome applications from students with interests in all the main areas of work we engage with.

Key facts

  • A locus of world-class research.
  • A thriving interdisciplinary and supportive research environment.
  • The department has a strong record of securing research funds from major UK research councils and the European Research Council.


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.



My research has to do with the transformation of culture in diasporas. I started my career as an environmental advocate, but eventually went to work for an organisation of the Armenian diaspora. In my research, I will be focussing on the particular case of the Armenian diaspora. I was very happy that the OU was interested in my application and so grateful for my supervisors’ guidance and encouragements.

Nicolas TavitianPhD Student, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences