Research course

Welfare, governance and social change

Open University · Department of Social Policy

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent) and an MA or /MSc

Months of entry


Course content

Research in this area is active and extensive, and is located both within the Department of Social Policy and Criminology, and the Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance (CCIG). Research students in this area are generally eligible to become student members of the Centre and are well supported by colleagues in the department, e.g. through presenting work in progress at departmental seminars. This area covers a range of interests:

  • The historical development of welfare politics, policies and practices
  • The conflicts over future development of welfare states and systems
  • The modes of governing welfare and public services, including Foucauldian methodologies
  • The contested social relations of welfare
  • Histories of poverty, families and welfare
  • Regional social policy: devolution, nationalism and social policy.

We also have expertise in the area of globalisation, transnationalism and social welfare, focused both within the Department of Social Policy and Criminology, the Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance and the International Centre for Comparative Criminological Research. This is an interdisciplinary theme that focuses on how social relations, divisions and inequalities are constructed, manifested and contested through globalisation and transnationalisation processes. The Department of Social Policy and Criminology’s work in this theme includes globalisation(s) ‘from above’ and ‘from below’, including the development of global social regulation, governance and policy formation in relation to topics such as migration, financial transfers (remittances), social protection, health and social care, youth justice, and access to food, air and water. We also address transnational political activism as it relates to policy formation in a range of global and sub-global contexts, and their significance for understanding processes of social development and change.

Another core theme concerns the links between educational policy and society which deal with education, poverty, social class and/or identity, the democratic governing of education and the relationship between skills-based approaches aligning to models of corporate governance, and democratic representative models.

Expertise in this research area also includes urban policy, particularly as examined through the lens of poverty and problematised spaces, racial and other forms of exclusion. Research in our department has also mobilised a critical engagement with the notion of community, whether this be the idea of sustainable communities, community mobilisation or parenting communities.

Potential supervisors

Department specialisms

For guidance on choosing a research project, please visit the Faculty of Social Sciences Research website. Information there will help you identify and articulate your research project, and tells you who to contact to discuss it with before writing your proposal and submitting an application.

Fees and funding

Please see The Open University website

Qualification and course duration


part time
72 months
full time
36 months
distance learning
variable months


full time
15 months
part time
24 months

Course contact details

Ms Donna Collins
+44 (0)1908 654534