Research course

Design ecologies

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

Entry requirements

PhD: Entry requirements vary according to the research topic and/or specific studentships. The normal minimum entrance requirement is an upper second class honours degree or masters 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 masters degree in research methods, an undergraduate degree with a research element in the final year, or work-related experience with evidence through research reports. If you have a qualification from outside the UK, or you are not sure if you meet the entry requirements, please contact us by email before applying. 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. The research topic pages (in the menu on the right of our Research areas page) give details of specific entry requirements, and provide contact details to discuss your suitability for the MPhil with a member of academic staff.

Months of entry


Course content

Sustainable design and innovation research has a long legacy at The Open University. In the 1970s seminal work was undertaken framing up alternative technologies, particularly in the context of energy and sustainable policy (Boyle and Elliott). In the 1980s and 1990s work originated here on ‘green innovation’ theory and practice within commercial, social and policy contexts (Roy & Potter).

Today in the Design Group we continue this tradition of sustainable design and innovation research. This research is termed design ecologies to emphasise the relational and multi-scale nature of sustainable design and innovation and the diverse landscapes it inhabits. We welcome research applications that align to the following areas of research interest:

The Design Group is part of the AHRC CDT Design Star, partnering with Brighton, Goldsmiths, Loughborough and Reading Universities. This provides a supportive environment for our postgraduate students in both exploring different approaches to design research and in developing interactive knowledge exchange. Design-focused research events are held throughout each academic year alongside the OU-focused research training.

Department specialisms

Cultures of consumption in circular economies Sustainable urban design ecologies: the integration of local wisdom on design for adaptable infrastructure. Exploring sustainable product service system innovation in urban environments Designing ecoliteracy for sustainable transitions Sustainable innovation and leadership: beyond the triple bottom line

Fees and funding

Please visit our website for information: Fees and funding

Qualification and course duration


full time
48 months
part time
72 months


full time
15 months
part time
24 months

Course contact details

Dr Emma Dewberry
+44 (0)1908 332940