Research course

Living with disability and long term conditions

Open University · Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent) plus either a masters degree or research methods training at masters level (or equivalent)

Months of entry


Course content

The Faculty of Health & Social Care’s work in this area covers research on a wide spectrum of people’s experiences across the life course, including physical and learning disability and living with a long-term condition. Key strands include the social history of learning disability; theory; policy and practice in disability; advocacy for people with learning disabilities; disability, sexuality and reproductive health; disability and end-of-life issues; disability and diabetes; neurodiversity and autism; determinants of help-seeking for mental health-related issues and subsequent engagement with mental health services; the benefits and challenges of providing social support and for mental health issues; the mental health of mental health carers. Research in the field of long-term conditions includes the experience of co-morbidity (physical and mental health); motherhood, and issues around screening; diversity and gender; and the discursive construction of autism. Projects in this area have also focused on the development of inclusive research methodologies and life story work.

Collaboration with colleagues in other universities, with service-user and provider organisations, and with disabled people – in the UK and internationally – is a central component of research in this area.

Current/recent research projects
  • The construction of ADHD – a discursive psychological approach to the talk of mothers of children with ADHD
  • The implications of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 on black and minority ethnics with learning difficulties
  • The impact of rural and urban environments on the lived experience of people with learning difficulties
  • Neurological rehabilitation...what next
  • The role of assistance dogs and psycho-emotional disablism

Potential supervisors

Department specialisms

The social history of learning disability Theory, policy and practice in disability Learning disability and life story work Learning disability and families Advocacy for people with learning disabilities Disability/long-term conditions and end-of-life issues Disability/long-term conditions Disability, learning disability, and sexual and reproductive health Disability and parenthood Disability, learning disability and diabetes The experiences of disabled children in the UK and internationally The relationship between physical and mental ill-health The health of people from minority ethnic groups The differing experiences of people with long-term conditions Identity issues and autism or ADHD Critical approaches to autism Rehabilitation Caring for a disabled relative Mental health The role of new technologies in managing disability/long-term conditions Neurodiversity and autism

Fees and funding

Please see The Open University website for more information.

Qualification and course duration


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


full time
15 months
part time
24 months
distance learning
variable months

Course contact details

Dr Lindsay O'Dell