Research course


Open University · Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

Visit the institution website for COVID‑19 updates

Entry requirements

The normal minimum entrance requirement is an upper second class honours degree or master's degree.

Months of entry


Course content

The Design Group incorporates a range of expertise across the spectrum of design research and reflects a non-discipline-specific approach to understanding design and design processes. Our research is wide-ranging, often drawing on, and combining with, other disciplines. We work in many sectors and contexts including product and manufacturing, fashion, urban and built environment, participatory design, sustainability, innovation, energy and climate change. Our teaching and research are mutually reinforcing.

Over the last 50 years the group has developed world-leading expertise in the processes, approaches and tools for delivering design education at a distance. The OU Design Group has performed consistently well in National audits of research quality, repeatedly appearing in the top ten UK institutions for research quality in Design. We are a supportive community of researchers and welcome new members of the group, whether they are staff or students: it’s a great place to do a PhD!

The research that the Design Group undertakes seeks to advance understanding of design and innovation’s role in society, to transform lives and to challenge the ways that people participate in this change. Our research is clustered around key themes:

  • design processes
  • sustainable design and innovation
  • collaborative design
  • complexity and design
  • distance design education.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • PhD
    part time
    96 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    48 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Graduate School