Research course


Open University · Department of Design, Development, Environment and Materials

Visit the institution website for COVID‑19 updates

Entry requirements

PhD: The normal minimum entrance requirement is an upper second class honours degree or master's degree, relevant to the proposed area of study, from a recognised higher education institution in the UK. You should also have experience of academic research in the previous four years, normally in the form of either a master's degree in research methods, an undergraduate degree with a research element in the final year, or work-related experience with evidence through research reports.

MPhil: Applicants should normally hold, or be expecting to obtain, a bachelors degree with at least first or upper-second class honours, or an equivalent qualification. However, entry requirements differ between academic areas, and sometimes a taught masters degree is also required.

Months of entry


Course content

The Design Group at The Open University established the study of design as a subject in its own right. This perspective encourages the study of patterns, processes and practices in diverse design domain settings. It opens up new vantage points to question how design is practised as a creative human activity, promotes innovation and the different ways that the designed and manufactured things around us impact on the world we inhabit.

The research that the Design Group undertakes shares a common concern in design for social change. It seeks to advance understanding of design and innovation’s role in society, to transform lives and challenges the ways that people participate in this change. Our research is clustered around four themes:

  • Design processes
  • Sustainable design and innovation
  • Collaborative design
  • Complexity and design.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • PhD
    part time
    72 months
    • Distance learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    36 months
    • Distance learningis available for this qualification
  • MPhil
    part time
    24 months
    • Distance learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    15 months
    • Distance learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Dr Emma Dewberry
+44 (0)1908 654138