Research course

Communication in Social and Healthcare Contexts

Open University · Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent)

Months of entry


Course content

A key area of research is communication in social and healthcare contexts. This work is grounded in multimethod approaches from applied linguistics, narrative studies and literacy studies. These studies aim to understand the nature of communicative practices across a range of social and healthcare settings taking account of the ways in which changing practices mediated by the use of new technologies is impacting on health and social care provision.

A key interest is to explore how different participants in health and social care provision communicate – for example, how groups talk about their illness experiences and healthcare needs, and to understand the consequences for all involved. Developing work investigates how mental health and illness experiences are described in various types of narratives.

Current/recent research projects:
  • The language of experiences of depression and schizophrenia in various types of narratives.
  • The use of metaphor in cancer and end-of-life contexts by different groups of people.
  • The representation of illnesses in fiction and the contribution this makes to public perception of illness.
  • Writing and recording practices in professional social work.

Potential supervisors:

Department specialisms

The role of language in doctor–patient communication The language of health information leaflets Communicating about health and illness online Autobiographical narratives of mental and physical health and illness Linguistic representation of self and identity in illness The literacy practices of health and social care practitioners

Fees and funding

For detailed information on current fees visit: Fees and funding

Qualification and course duration


part time
24 months
full time
15 months


part time
72 months
full time
48 months

Course contact details

Mrs Anne Foward
+44 (0)1908 655364