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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

A star baker chef's hat with a whisk, mixing bowl and eggs.

WELS bakes the way to victory for second consecutive year

Results are in for the annual Open University Graduate School ‘Bake Your Research’ competition… and WELS has bagged the top spot for a second year running.

12th January 2023
A collage of portrait images of Dr Carrie Purcell and Dr Sarah Cox

WELS becomes first Faculty with a research presence in all four nations

The Faculty of WELS welcomes two new Research Fellows based in Scotland. This is a significant moment as the faculty becomes the first at the OU to have a research presence in the four nations where the OU is based. 

11th January 2023
Three small children playing together outdoors in a nursery playground

New framework for Early Childhood Practitioners developed from WELS research

Dr Natalie Canning, Co-Director of The Open University’s Children’s Research Centre, launches the Empowerment Framework, a new tool for childhood practitioners to analyse children’s play and activities. Based on Dr Canning’s research into Early Childhood contexts, the tool supports the understanding of child development through an empowerment focus.

10th January 2023
Virtual reality setting showing three scans of the human body

OU secures £5.8m to build extended reality studio

The OU has secured funding of £5.8m from the Office for Students (OfS) to develop extended reality studios, Open XR Studios, to expand its teaching and learning with augmented and virtual reality.

20th December 2022