Research course

Sustainable Design and Innovation

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

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent).

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:

  • Products, Services and Systems (PSS)
  • Sustainable Design and Innovation
  • Cultures of Sustainable Consumption
  • Sustainable buildings, cities and infrastructures
  • Low-carbon housing and transport policy and design
  • Smart grid and city developments
  • Innovation leadership and organisational change
  • Ecoliteracy and transformational learning.

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.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • PhD
    part time
    72 months
      full time
      36 months
      • MPhil
        part time
        24 months
          full time
          15 months

          Course contact details

          Dr Emma Dewberry

          +44 (0)1908 332940