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As the largest academic institution in the UK, we do research differently.  For over 50 years, we have been using our research to transform lives across the UK, Ireland and globally and we strive to find new ways to share this knowledge, connecting and collaborating with others to ignite far-reaching positive change.

The OU’s Open Societal Challenges Programmes aims to tackle some of the most important challenges of our time through impact-driven research.  The programme’s focus on the themes aligns with our mission to be open to people, place, methods and ideas;

The programme’s aim is to apply the research excellence of OU academics and our collaborators and partners to some of the most pressing societal challenges facing people across the UK, Ireland and worldwide to transform lives.

OU research has impact in the real world and deep into space, which has earned us a place in the top three University space science centres in the UK.

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 assessed 82% of our research as having a world-leading or internationally excellent impact.  To find out more about OU research, visit:

Changing Lives for the Better

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Living well

We believe everyone has the right to live well.  Our researchers create evidence-based interventions to tackle complex health and wellbeing challenges often co-created with groups facing the most significant adversity across the globe.

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Tackling inequalities

Our academics are campaigners and changemakers, forging long-term collaborations to tackle issues like religious intolerance, gender-based violence, and unequal opportunities for people with disabilities.

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Combatting the climate crisis also means protecting people’s rights and improving living conditions now and in the future.  This requires a holistic, cross-disciplinary approach to ensure a sustainable planet.

Driving innovation

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Next Generation

The Open University has a commitment to fostering a more diverse staff and research student population to bring a broad range of perspectives and experiences to our research.

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Space and Exploration

The OU has major research interests in the development, of a number of international space exploration projects, playing a key role in many iconic missions.

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Our researchers use AI and data to tackle socially relevant topics such as web behaviour and data privacy and develop technologies to help the public engage with the complex social, political and environmental debates of the time.

Shaping policy & practice

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Open Research

The Open University work with over 100 external partners to champion a collaborative, open research culture.  Sharing research openly and widely maximises its impact, enhances integrity and minimises waste.

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PolicyWISE is a new initiative to lead comparative policy research across the nations of the UK and Ireland.  Iti is the only think-tank of its kind.  We help policymakers and influencers focus on solutions that make a difference to the lives of people and communities.

Find out more about OU research

You can visit The Open University's main research website by clicking here.

eSTEeM is our centre for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics teaching, which promotes innovation, scholarship and enterprise in open and distance learning.

Open Research Online (ORO) is The OU's repository of research publications and other research outputs. It is an open access resource that can be searched and browsed freely by members of the public.

Open University academics participate every year in the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series.