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Research and Innovation

OU's COAST telescope in Tenerife The Open University combines a mission to widen access to higher education with research excellence. Research and knowledge exchange is fundamental to our principle to be open to people, places, methods and ideas.

Research underpins the teaching we deliver. It informs the high-quality free open educational resources we provide to learners worldwide. It feeds into the TV and radio programmes we make with our partner the BBC, which reach an audience of 40 million viewers annually.

Research is carried out across our four faculties and two research institutes. Open University in Scotland staff and research students are actively engaged in a varied programme of research work, which is of impact and relevance both in Scotland and further afield.

We have five strategic research areas aimed at addressing twenty-first century global challenges and promoting social justice.

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Citizenship and governance

OU research is rethinking the changing relationships between citizens and authorities in the 21st century. Its scope ranges from global issues like migration, to the increasing scrutiny of private lives. 

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Health and wellbeing

Within the context of an ageing demographic, the OU focuses on evidence-based interventions to reduce the disease burden, prevent ill-health and promote wellbeing.

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International Development

International Development research at the OU is pioneering a different approach which we call ‘inclusive innovation’. We are working with poor and marginalised people developing their own solutions.

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We are one of the top three university space science centres in the UK. OU scientists play key roles in iconic missions, such as Rosetta, the first comet landing.

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Technology Enhanced Learning

We are the European leader for massive innovations in learning technologies which have worldwide influence and deliver digital education at scale. 

Research Excellence Framework

In the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) rankings from The Times Higher Education, almost three-quarters of OU submitted research was rated as world-leading or internationally excellent, and we came in the top third of UK higher education institutions for 'research power'.

For more information about OU research you can visit:

  • The Open University's main research website.
  • eSTEeM, our centre for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics teaching, which promotes innovation, scholarship and enterprise in open and distance learning
  • Open Research Online (ORO), the OU's repository of research publications and other research outputs. It is an open access resource that can be searched and browsed freely by members of the public.

Image: Robotic telescope COAST (The Open University).

Contact us

If you have an idea for working with the OU in Scotland on research or knowledge exchange, please contact our
External Engagement & Partnerships Team.