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Welcome to WELS research

Research in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies is concerned with enabling people and communities to thrive within an increasingly complex, insecure and unequal world. We recognise that having a voice and experiencing agency is vital for personal wellbeing and democratic renewal and we work both in the UK and in broader global development contexts to ensure that excluded, vulnerable and complexly disadvantaged people are enabled to shape the research that impacts their lives.

Find out more about our REF results.


Research areas

All of our research interests are united by a strong commitment to interdisciplinarity - drawing strength from the breadth of our academics' experience and specialisms. We are also strongly driven by the OU's social justice ethos and our research aims to enable communities and individuals to thrive in an increasingly demanding and unequal world.



How our research is making a real difference to people's lives.


Research highlights

Read more about some of our award-winning and pioneering research projects.


Research degrees

Join our vibrant community of PHD and Professional Doctorate students.

PRAXIS Center for Scholarship and Innovation  


Our scholarship and innovation centre PRAXIS brings together all our academic expertise to undertake sustained and intentional inquiry into learning, teaching and assessment practices in higher education.

Knowledge exchange  

Partner with us

Whether you are looking to train and develop your staff, or need access to an academic consultant to develop new solutions, we offer a wide variety of ways for organisations to harness our expertise.

Research news

An elderly lady wearing a pink sweater is holding a remote personal alarm. It's around her neck with a lanyard and she's pressing a large red button.

OU research finds gap in smart home technology for older people

The search for innovative solutions to cater for the UK’s population is on the rise as our healthcare systems experience ever increasing pressure. Researchers at the OU have called for further exploration in assisting older people in their daily lives, specifically via the use of remote monitoring technologies and smart homes.

31st January 2024
Portrait photograph of Professor Erica Borgstrom. She is looking at the camera in a garden setting, and she is smiling,

New Professor of Medical Anthropology

Dr Erica Borgstrom has been promoted to Professor of Medical Anthropology, within the OU’s Faculty of WELS. Erica’s specialist area in research and teaching is death and dying, with an emphasis on end-of-life care. She is the lead for the interdisciplinary Open Thanatology research group, which educates on death and dying.

20th December 2023
Close up of man playing drums in the foreground with three performers in the background

New research investigating cultural appropriation through language

From the emerging field of Raciolinguistics, new research from the School of Languages and Applied Linguistics will investigate the relationship between language, race and cultural appropriation through the use of Jamaican Patois.

27th October 2023
A parent and child hold hands through blue metal bars.

New Children’s Research Centre report launched at Houses of Parliament

Not enough is being done across the UK to support parents, children and young people experiencing family imprisonment according to new research by The Open University’s Children’s Research Centre and Worcestershire charity YSS. 

25th July 2023