Literacy and social justice

Qualifications Duration Start dates Application period
PhD or Professional doctorate PhD:
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
Professional doctorate:
Part time: 4–8 years
October November to January
PhD or Professional doctorate
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
Professional doctorate:
Part time: 4–8 years
Start dates
Application period
November to January

The Literacy and Social Justice research area at The Open University is located in the School of Education, Childhood, Youth and Sport. It focuses on a range of themes such as digital literacies, pedagogy and educational practice, broadening literacy, children’s experiences and agency. Our research draws upon a range of qualitative and quantitative methods and diverse theoretical orientations.

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 undergraduate degree (or equivalent) and an MA or research methods training at MA level (or equivalent). If you are not a UK citizen, you may need to prove your knowledge of English.

Potential research projects

  • Reading for pleasure
  • The educational use technologies in education
  • Understanding local and international literacy programmes and resources
  • Children’s conceptions of play and learning
  • Learner agency in urban primary schools in disadvantaged areas
  • Literacy experiences, young children’s intentions, identities and affective relations with text

Current/recent research projects

  • Home and school literacy practices of children
  • The role of mentoring developing adolescents
  • Teaching assistant-teacher interaction in primary school
  • The role of fun in learning across multiple cultures
  • Exploring the use of picture books and primary school children’s spirituality
  • Self-belief and student behaviours on the achievement of target grades in sixth-form
  • Early career teachers' experiences of classroom observation
  • Transition from primary to secondary school
  • Marginalisation and girls' valued capabilities through the lens of education
  • Adolescent’s perceptions of dyslexia, school and learning
  • Educational experiences of refugee children

Potential supervisors

Fees and funding

PhD fees

UK fee International fee
Full time: £4,712 per year Full time: £11,958 per year
Part time: £2,356 per year Part time: £5,979 per year

Professional doctorate fees

UK fee International fee
Part time: £3,587 per year Part time: £9,107 per year

Some of our research students are funded via The Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership; others are self-funded.

For detailed information about fees and funding, visit Fees and studentships.

To see current funded studentship vacancies across all research areas, see Current studentships.


Child looking at tablet in African bush

How to apply

Get in touch

If you have an enquiry specific to this research topic, please contact:

Dr Lucy Rodriquez-Leon, PGR Convenor for Education, Learning and Development

Phone: +44 (0)1908 659151

Apply now

If you’re interested in applying for this research topic, please take a look at the application process.