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Thrive, engaged, open research. Impactful, multiple legacies, rigour

Research at WELS 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 international development contexts to ensure that excluded, vulnerable and complexly disadvantaged people are enabled to shape the research that impacts their lives.​

We have a world-class reputation for pioneering forms of participatory and inclusive research (including co-constructed, arts-based and child-led work) in collaboration with children and young people, people with physical and mental health disabilities, people with learning differences and older people. We engage with communities of practice, policy-makers and the wider academy to generate critical, impactful and solution-oriented research in four key areas:


Children, young people and families


Health, wellbeing and social care


Language and literacies


Transformative education


We also host the the Open University Health & Wellbeing Priority Research Area.​

Our research is funded by UK Research Councils, the European Union, the Department for International Development, the National Institute for Health Research and a wide range of trusts, charities and commercial organisations. In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, approximately 70% of our research was judged to be world leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*) and our research environment in the area of education was assessed as 100% at 4* level.