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Doctoral projects

Our international community

You will join an internationally diverse community with over 38 countries represented. All postgraduate research students share a passion for research and their subject which makes for a vibrant and engaging research environment.

A feature of the work in WELS is the breadth of research interests, ranging from death and dying, applied linguistics, leadership and management, studies of schools and classrooms to the use of technology in education or developing pedagogies for distance settings.

This range of research interests gives rise to a wealth of research projects that would welcome the input of enthusiastic, budding researchers.  The examples below of postgraduate doctoral projects can only give you a first idea of the kinds of doctoral research that can be undertaken within WELS.

If you would like to discuss an idea that you may have for postgraduate research before submitting an application please contact WELS-student-enquiries@open.ac.uk.

Examples of current and recently completed PhD doctoral research

Education, Childhood, Youth and Sport

Jiniya Afroze. PhD thesis title: Risks and Resilience of Children in Bangladesh.  Supervisors: Dr Heather Montgomery, Dr Mimi Tatlow-Golden

Cathy Baldwin. PhD thesis title: Exploring participant responses to Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank.  Supervisors: Prof Regine Hampel, Prof, Jonty Rix, Dr Jonathan Gibson, Ms Georghia Elinas

Namrita Batra. PhD thesis title: Home and School Literacy Practices of Children in Rural India. Supervisors: Dr Steve Hutchinson and Dr Prithvi Shrestha, Prof Teresa Cremin

Natalie Canning.  PhD thesis title:  Children’s Empowerment in Play.  Supervisors: Mr John Oates, Dr Dorothy Faulkner and Dr Rosie Flewitt

Joseph De Lappe. PhD thesis title: 'Asexy and we know it': The Emergence of Asexual Activism as a Sexual and Gender Social Movement.  Supervisors: Dr Sarah Earle, Dr Naomi Holford

Dame Diop. PhD thesis title: Investigation of the Senegalese pedagogical cells of secondary school teachers of English as platforms for professional development.  Supervisors: Dr Freda Wolfenden, Dr Ian Eyres

Emily Dowdeswell PhD Thesis title: Finding fun, learning from children's perspectives in the search for fun.  Supervisors: Prof Kieron Sheehy, Dr mimi Tatlow-Golden

Alice Gathoni. PhD thesis title: The lived experiences of social media use by students with disabilities in Higher Education in Kenya.  Supervisors: Dr Freda Wolfenden, Dr Felicity Fletcher-Campbell, Dr Sally Hartley

Sarah Huxley PhD thesis title: Exploring the role and meaning of ‘fun’ in non-formal learning processes in multiple cultures.  Supervisors: Prof Kieron sSeehy, Dr Mimi Tatlow-Golden

Jen Kearvell-White. PhD thesis title: Executive Function in Younger Adolescents with Special Educational Needs. Supervisors: Professor David Messer, Dr Paul Ibbotson, Dr Dorothy Faulkner

Gosia Iwaniec-Thompson. PhD thesis title: Older academics’ learning: co-participation in social practice and learning biography.  Supervisors: Dr Chris Kubiak

Candice Lingam-Willgoss. PhD thesis title: A qualitative study into the transitional experiences of elite sportswomen from high, moderate and low risk sport.  Supervisors:  Dr Helen Owton, Dr Caroline Heaney

Jane Magaya. PhD thesis title: Exploring the location of solutions to the social, policy and economic factors that underpin low educational outcomes for marginalized girls in Zimbabwe.  Supervisors: Dr Alison Buckler, Dr Cristina Santos

Memory Malibha-Pinchbeck. PhD thesis title: The Study of  Middle and Upper Secondary School Students’ Listening Practices during Study. Supervisors: Dr Byron Dueck, Dr Janet Soler, Dr Felicity Fletcher-Campbell

Khadija Mohamad. PhD thesis title: Investigating the Impact of Hello Hubs in Uganda.  Supervisors, Prof Peter Twining, Dr Alison Buckler, Dr Beck Pitt

Sipho Morrison.  PhD thesis title: Flow and its relationship to Mathematics.  Supervisors: Dr Claire Lee, Dr Steve Hutchinson, Dr Cathy Smith

Bukola OyinloyePhD thesis title: Determinants of Pupil Dropout in Basic Education in Northern Nigeria.  Supervisors: Dr Jane Cullen, Dr Alison Buckler

Jessica Pinchbeck. PhD thesis title: Understanding women’s participation in club sport: A case study.  Supervisors: Dr Helen Owton, Dr Sam Murphy

Linda Plowright. PhD thesis title: How 7-11 year olds experience physical activity Supervisors: Mr Ben Oakley, Dr Kieron Sheehy

Shajedur Rahman. PhD thesis title: Relationship between teacher collaboration and classroom practice in Bangladeshi primary schools.  Supervisors: Dr Ian Eyres, Dr Kimberley Safford, Mr Tom Power

Lucy Rodriguez-Leon.  PhD thesis title: Co-constructed Literate Identities: The Variation in Pre-School Children’s Participation in Cultural Literacy Practices.  Supervisors: Prof Teresa Cremin, Dr Natalie Canning

Ernesto Roque-Guitterez. PhD thesis title: Pattern Finding Skills as Cognitive Processes Involved in the Acquisition of English as a Second Language: A Case Study of Year 1-2 Spanish Speakers.  Supervisors: Dr Paul Ibbotson, Dr Lina Adinolfi

Sumita Sarkar. PhD thesis title: Pre-service student-teachers’ understanding and application of reflective practice during internships in India Supervisors: Dr Steve Hutchinson and Dr Alison Buckler, Dr Leigh-Ann Perryman

Pinsuda Srisontisuk. PhD thesis title: Investigating the use of mobile touch screen technology in young children.  Supervisors: Prof David Messer, Prof Agnes Kukulska-Hulme, Dr Natalie Canning

Cordelia Sutton. PhD thesis title: What Counts as Happiness for Young People? Supervisors: Dr Heather Montgomery, Prof Martyn Hammersley

Sion Tetlow. PhD thesis title: Violent Boyhoods? An Ethnography of Emerging Pre-Teen (11-13) Masculinities in a Post Industrial South Wales School and Locality. Supervisors: Professor Mary Jane Kehily, Dr Peter Redman

Petra Vackova. PhD thesis title: Delineating classroom intra-actions: A posthumanist view on processes of inclusion and exclusion within artmaking activities in early years settings in the Czech Republic.  Supervisors: Mr John Oates, Prof Teresa Cremin

Health and Wellbeing

Kirsty Allenby PhD thesis title: Developing Research Methods for the Inclusion of Autists with Limited Verbal and Communication Skills in Research: Supervisors: Dr Sarah Earle, Dr Lindsay O’Dell, Dr Helen Bowes-Catton

Maddie Blackburn PhD thesis title: The Sexuality of young adults with life- limiting and or life threatening conditions?  Supervisors: Dr Sarah Earle, Dr Carol Komaromy

Anne Butterworth PhD thesis title: Community provision of psychological support for palliative patients and their families.  Supervisors: Dr Erica Borgstrom, Prof Jan Draper

Sakura Byrne PhD thesis title: Balancing Act: An Exploration into Mental Wellbeing, Bisexual Identity, and Monogamy.  Supervisors: Dr Mathijs Lucassen, Dr Meg-John Barker, Dr Helen Bowes-Catton

Chris Chaloner PhD thesis title: Older Fathers, Perceptions and Experiences of later Paternity.  Supervisors: Dr Martin Robb, Prof Jan Draper

Rachel France PhD thesis title: Volunteers in End-of-Life Care: How is their Role Constructed?  Supervisors: Dr Carol Komaromy, Prof Jan Draper

Samantha Goodliffe PhD thesis title: Exploration of the Psychosocial Impact of Coeliac Disease on Patients and Families.  Supervisors: Dr Martin Robb, Dr Helen Owton

Parvathy Harilal PhD thesis title: Digital Health Literacy for People Aged Sixty and Above: Investigating the Motivations Challenges and Experiences.  Supervisors: Dr Caroline Holland, Dr Joan Simons

Jade Levell PhD thesis title: Exploring the Intersection of Gang Membership and Childhood Exposure to Domestic Abuse: Finding Themes from Stories of Survival.  Supervisors: Dr Rod Earle, Dr Chris Kubiak, Dr Johanna Motzkau

Sue Main PhD thesis title: Exhibiting Pain: Interpretations of Creative Representations of Persistent Physical Pain.  Supervisors: Dr Caroline Holland, Dr Joan Simons, Dr Rose Barbour

Aaron Mvula PhD thesis title: Lived parenting experiences of young mothers and fathers living in poverty in rural Zambia: A case of Sinda District.  Supervisors: Dr Lesley Hoggart, Dr Philippa Waterhouse, Dr Victoria Newton

Grainne O’Connor PhD thesis title: Living with MS and the experiential use of assistance dogs.  Supervisors: Dr Elizabeth Tilley, Dr Lindsay O’Dell

Ayomide Oluseye PhD thesis title: A Qualitative Investigation into Teenage Pregnancy and motherhood in Nigeria.  Supervisors: Dr Philippa Waterhouse, Dr Lesley Hoggart

Rebecca Owens PhD thesis title: Designing an inclusive evaluation of a community education course for people with learning disabilities on hygiene, self-care and antibiotics.  Supervisors: Dr Sarah Earle, Dr Elizabeth Tilley

Ned Redmore PhD thesis title: The phenomenology of families with an adult autistic child.  Supervisors: Dr Martin Robb, Dr Lindsay O’Dell

Lorna Rouse PhD thesis title: The social construction of quality diabetes care appointments in primary care by adults with mild-to-moderate learning disabilities, their supporters and healthcare professionals.  Supervisors: Dr Elizabeth Tilley, Dr Cathy Lloyd

Zana Saunders PhD thesis title: The Concept of ‘Wellbeing’ Perspectives of People with Advanced Stage Dementia.  Supervisors: Dr Sam Murphy, Dr Kerry Jones

Katy Schnitzler PhD thesis title: Women’s Experiences of Workplace Behaviours Following Miscarriage.  Supervisors: Dr Sam Murphy, Dr Kerry Jones, Dr Lesley Hoggart

Phil Wilson PhD thesis title: Impact of hospital bed manager function/role on patient safety and care quality.  Supervisors: Dr Joan Simons, Dr Geraldine Boyle

Tom Witney PhD thesis title: Lived experience of serodiscordant couples.  Supervisors: Dr Peter Keogh, Dr Jacqui Gabb, Dr Darren Langdridge

Alexandra Quinn PhD thesis title: Giving Voice to the Ineffable: Understanding the Experiences of Older First Time Mothers in the Transition to Motherhood and Supporting Their Needs.  Supervisors: Dr Sarah Earle, Dr Sharon Mallon

Language and Applied Linguistics

Claire Acevedo. PhD thesis title: Bringing language to consciousness: teacher professional learning in genre based reading pedagogy. Supervisors: Dr Frank Monaghan, Dr David Hann

Jagon Chichon. PhD thesis title: The Representation of UK Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Immigrants & Migrants (RASIM) on the TV debate show Question Time following the Brexit referendum.  Supervisors: Dr Caroline Tagg, Dr Laura Paterson

Shi Min Chua. PhD thesis title: Educators and Learners' Role in Discussion Activities of FutureLearn.  Supervisors: Dr Caroline Tagg, Prof Bart Rienties

Isabel Cobo-Palacios. PhD thesis title: HE Spanish Language teachers’ mediation practices.  Supervisors: Dr Inma Alvarez, Dr Zsuzsanna Barkanyi

Barbara Conde-Garfaro. PhD thesis title: Repurposing MOOCs for Foreign Language Learning: An Exploration of Self-regulated Learning Strategies in Higher Education Language Courses using Massive Open Online Courses.  Supervisors: Dr Timothy Lewis, Dr Tita Beaven, Dr Rebecca Ferguson.

Saraswati Dawadi. PhD thesis title: The impacts of the SEE English test on students and their parents. Supervisors: Dr Prithvi Shrestha, Dr Maria Fernandez-Toro

Ibrahima Diallo. PhD thesis title: Exploring the impact of collaborative reflection on novice EFL teacher professional development.  Supervisors: Dr Uschi Stickler, Dr Sam Austen, Dr Helene Pulker

Johanna Hall. PhD thesis title: Creativity and Flow in Online Game-Based Learning.  Supervisors: Dr Uschi Stickler, Dr Christothea Herodotou, Dr Mara Fuertes-Gutierrez

Elaine Johnson. PhD thesis title: What assets do linguistically, and culturally diverse students bring to UK higher education classrooms? Perspectives of the students, their peers and educators.  Supervisors: Dr Uwe Baumann, Dr Sylvia Warnecke

Silvina Katz. PhD thesis title: Making sense of the senses- A multisensory approach for reading and translating literature: a sensorial study of Silvina Ocampo’s short stories.  Supervisors: Dr Severine Hubscher-Davidson, Dr Fiona Doloughan, Dr Jerome Devaux
Ainur Karbozova.  PhD thesis title: The Open University of Kazakhstan: Prospects and Challenges.  Dr Timothy Lewis, Prof Bart Rienties

Helen Lee. PhD thesis title: Gesture: Multimodal learner interactions via videoconferencing on mobile devices in a framework of negotiation of meaningSupervisors: Professor Regine Hampel, Professor Agnes Kukulska-Hulme

Cecilia Li. PhD thesis title: Meaning negotiation in synchronous video and audio conferening English classes in China. Supervisors: Dr Tim Lewis and Dr Uwe Baumann

Christina Lyrigkou. PhD thesis title: The Dynamics of the Use of Discourse Markers: A longitudinal Study of English Language Learners in Greece.  Supervisors: Dr Caroline Tagg, Prof Agnes Kukulska-Hulme

Jenny McMullan. PhD thesis title: ‘The writing is part of a new life’: An investigation into the academic writing practices of sixteen women pursuing research degrees in a university in the UK.  Supervisors: Professor Theresa Lillis, Dr Lucy Rai and Dr Maria Leedham

Theron Muller. PhD thesis title: An Exploration of the Experiences of Japan-Based Language Teachers Writing for Academic Publication  Supervisors: Professor Theresa Lillis and Dr Ann Hewings

Irina Rets. PhD thesis title: Global discourse processing of authentic and non-authentic simplified texts in L2 among the migrant community: evidence from eye-tracking and miscue analysis.  Supervisors: Dr Uschi Stickler, Dr Timothy Coughlan

Jessica Sampurna. PhD thesis title: Implementing non-formal online project-based language learning in the Indonesian context.  Supervisors: Dr Uschi Stickler, Prof Regine Hampel, Prof Agnes Kukulska-Hulme

Natalia Smirnova. PhD thesis title: Contemporary writing for publication practices of Russian scholars: What are their strategies and values, ideologies?  Supervisors: Prof Theresa Lillis. Dr Kristina Hultgren

Barbara Spicer. PhD thesis title: Evolutionary anatomy of a feminist literary translation. A process-oriented investigation from first draft to published product.  Supervisors: Dr Severine Hubscher-Davidson, Dr Fiona Doloughan

Dana Therova. PhD thesis title: Linguistic complexity in international foundation students’ assessed writing at a UK university.  Supervisors: Dr Prithvi Shrestha, Dr Maria Leedham

Dimitrios VogiatzisPhD thesis title: Examining learners’ attitudes and perceptions towards the use of Social Networking Sites for language learning purposes.  Supervisors.  Dr Timothy Lewis, Dr Bea De Los Arcos, Dr Korina Giaxoglou

Sonia Wilson. PhD thesis title: Successful Heritage Language Maintenance: A case study among French-English Bilingual Children in the UK.  Supervisors: Dr Timothy Lewis, Dr Elodie Vialetton, Dr Maria Secova

Technology Enhanced Learning

George Alain. PhD thesis title: Designing Technology for Education of Displaced Conflict-affected children: Case of Syrian Children.  Supervisors: Dr Helen Yanacopulos, Dr Timothy Coughlan

Josmario Albuquerque. PHd thesis title: Social Bias in Educational Technologies and Inclusiveness.  Supervisors: Prof Bart Rienties, Dr Wayne Holmes

Popi Anastasiou. PhD thesis title: SEeDS (Sequencing of Events enabling Digital Storytelling) in science learning: a tale of the States of Matter.  Supervisors: Dr Anne Adams, Dr Elizabeth Chamberlain, Prof Nick Braithwaite

Sian Beavers. PhD thesis title: The Informal Learning of Ancient History through Digital Games.  Supervisors: Dr Elizabeth FitzGerald, Dr Joanna Paul, Dr Sylvia Warnecke

Lesley Boyd. PhD thesis title: Using Technology-Enabled Learning Networks In Public Service To Achieve Practical Improvement Outcomes.  Supervisors: Dr Doug Clow, Dr Anne Adams

Jo Buxton PhD thesis title: Design for Accessible Collaborative Engagement.  Supervisors: Prof Denise Whitelock, Dr Tim Coughlan

Jess Carr. PhD thesis title: An inclusive approach to engaging people with learning disabilities in capacity building needs for citizen science.  Supervisors: Prof Jane Seale, Prof Rick Holliman, Prof Eileen Scanlon

Vasudha Chaudhari. PhD thesis title: Learning in uncertainty: Role of self-regulation in professional development of finance professionals.  Supervisors: Prof Allison Littlejohn, Prof Zdenek Zdrahal, Dr Simon Cross

Helen Crump. PhD thesis title: An Investigation into Self-OER relative to Open Scholarship and Networked Participatory Scholarship [NPS].  Supervisors: Prof Peter Twining, Dr Jackie Tuck, Dr Helen Donelan

Stephen Foster. PhD thesis title: How do students engage with automatic immediate formative feedback on draft assignment essays? Does such feedback help development of essay writing and enhance student achievement?  Supervisors: Prof Denise Whitelock, Dr Simon Cross, Dr Karen Kear.

Leo Havemann. PhD thesis title: Valuing ‘open’: the purpose and value of Open Educational Practices for practitioners.  Supervisors: Prof Martin Weller, Dr Tita Beaven, Dr Korina Giaxoglou.

Garron Hillaire. PhD thesis title: Understanding emotions in online learning: using emotional design and emotional measurement to unpack complex emotions during collaborative learning.  Supervisors: Prof Bart Rienties, Prof Mark Fenton-O’Creevy, Prof Zdenek Zdrahal

Jake Hilliard. PhD thesis title: Students’ emotional experiences in assessed, online, collaborative learning.  Supervisors: Dr Karen Kear, Dr Caroline Heaney, Dr Helen Donelan.

Paco Iniesto. PhD thesis title: Accessibility in MOOCs: The current state and next steps.  Supervisors: Prof Matrick McAndrew, Prof Shailey Minocha, Dr Tim Coughlan

Maureen Korir. PhD thesis title: Student Privacy in Learning Analytics: Exploring Awareness, Concepts and Concerns.  Supervisors: Ddr Sharon Slade, Dr Wayne Holmes, Prof Bart Rienties.

Ralph Mercer. PhD thesis title: Promoting Self-Regulated Learning Habits in a Technology Mediated Learning Environment.  Supervisors: Dr Doug Clow, Dr Jon Rosewell, Dr Ann Jones

Victoria Murphy. PhD thesis title: Learning from Incidents and Implementing Action Learning from Incidents and Implementing Action.  Supervisors: Prof Allison Littlejohn, Prof Bart Rienties.

Quan Nguyen. PhD thesis title: Unravelling the dynamics of learning design within and between disciplines in higher education using learning analytics.  Supervisors: Prof Bart Rienties, Prof Denise Whitelock, Prof Zdenek Zdrahal

Tina Papathoma. PhD thesis title: How HE Educators Learn how to teach in MOOCs. A Multi case Study. Supervisors: Dr Doug Clow, Dr Rebecca Ferguson, Prof Allison Littlejohn

Saman Rizvi: PhD thesis title: Investigation of Temporal Dynamics in MOOC Learning Trajectories; a Geocultural Perspective.  Supervisors: Prof Bart Rienties, Dr Jekaterina Rogaten.

Janesh Sanzgiri. PhD thesis title: A Comparative Study of Indian Learners in Massive Open Online Courses. Supervisors: Professor Martin Weller, Dr Leigh-Anne Perryman, Dr Rob Farrow