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Research Groups

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences has a thriving research culture and is engaged in world-class, agenda setting research in fields such as culture, citizenship, identities, governance, criminology, international development and innovation, history of crime, policing and justice, African and Asian Studies, and human geography. We are committed to the enhancement and development of this culture as a priority in our mission. Our research is supported by the following Research Groups:

Contemporary Cultures of Writing

Contemporary Cultures of Writing

The research focus of this interdisciplinary research cluster is on writing practices, their cultural contexts and impacts. We are interested in all forms of creative and academic writing, reflective practices, academic literacies, and translation as a creative act.

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Digital Humanities

Digital Humanities is the critical study of how digital technologies and methods intersect with humanities scholarship and scholarly communication. It investigates the use of digital tools and software for interpretation and analysis of humanities research questions and how digital methodologies can be used to enhance disciplines such a Art History, Classical Studies, History, Literature, Music and many others.

Distant photograph of a mosque and a street view

Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies

The Ferguson Centre promotes the interdisciplinary study of empire and postcolonial conditions with a particular focus on Africa and Asia. Since its establishment in 2002, it has hosted seminars, exchanges, postgraduates and run collaborative research projects.

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Gender and Otherness in the Humanities (GOTH)

Gender and Otherness in the Humanities (GOTH) was relaunched in 2019 from its previous incarnation, GiTH (Gender in the Humanities). Its new name underlines gender’s often complex intersections with different types of ‘otherness’. Our research interests covers a variety of fields within the Humanities including English Literature, Creative Writing, Music, History, Theatre Studies, Art History, Classical Studies and more, exploring topics related to the themes of gender and otherness.

Harm & Evidence Research Collaborative (HERC)

The Harm & Evidence Research Collaborative (HERC) was formed in 2015 out of what was known as The International Centre for Comparative Criminological Research (ICCCR), which itself had been established in December 2003. In 2010, ICCCR was formally partnered with the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies; in 2015, this partnership was formally extended.

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History of Books and Reading (HOBAR) Research Collaboration

Active for well over a decade, The History of Books and Reading (HOBAR) Research Collaboration has made a number of major contributions to the development of English subject both nationally and internationally, and has attracted substantial amounts of both internal and external research funding, including three major AHRC grants. Members of the group have produced publications in authorship studies, printing, publishing, reading, textual studies, literacy and popular culture, the history of drama, manuscript culture, digital humanities, globalization, children's literature and scholarly editing.

International Development and Innovation

This is the portal to The Open University’s ground-breaking research in International Development and Innovation, an area that reflects the OU’s deep commitment to educational opportunity and social justice. Building on the university’s leadership in open learning and partnership to promote debate, our work is frequently able to shape both policy and practice at the highest levels.

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Innogen | Institute for Innovation Generation in the Life Sciences

The Innogen Institute explores the social and economic impact of innovation in the life sciences. It is a dynamic collaboration between the University of Edinburgh and the Open University.

Old picture of a policeman

Centre for the History of Crime, Policing and Justice

The Centre for the History of Crime, Policing and Justice aims to promote and facilitate research into criminal justice history around the world and to generate the exchange of ideas between academics, criminal justice practitioners and serving and retired policemen. This is achieved via seminars, conferences, publications and the provision of specialist archive facilities.

Schwind 'Eine Symphonie' -- Choral Fantasy panel

Literature and Music

The Open University Literature and Music Research Group has been a focus for research in the interdisciplinary area of Literature and Music studies for many years and members of the group have published widely in the field. They collaborate in hosting international conferences and public study days and in supervising interdisciplinary doctoral research.

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Medieval and Early Modern Research

This group brings together staff from a variety of disciplines across Arts and Humanities at The Open University, including Art History, Classical Studies, English, History and Music, with wide-ranging expertise in social, political, religious and cultural developments of the medieval and early modern periods. Our research interests embrace a broad geographical area, covering developments across Europe and further afield. The group fosters a supportive environment within which staff and students can develop, exchange and collaborate in their studies of the medieval and early modern periods.

OpenSpace Research Centre

OpenSpace, founded in 2009, promotes research into geographical and environmental questions. We are motivated by the broad challenges that face the world, including: how can we live together better; how can we inherit the past responsibly; how might we bequeath better futures to others?

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Open Psychology Research Centre

The Open Psychology Research Centre is the research centre of the School of Psychology & Counselling. The Centre represents a progressive approach to psychological research, theory and practice that is tightly connected with other social sciences and humanities disciplines. It champions creative, critical and credible psychological research that makes a difference to real social issues, that informs practice, and that inspires a positive vision for living together fairly, equitably and imaginatively.

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Postcolonial and Global Literatures

The predominant focus of the group is on Anglophone literatures from South Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, and forms of colonial and neo-colonial experience represented in these literary traditions, but group members’ interests also encompass the writing of the Caribbean and South-Asian diasporas; colonial cultural and literary history; anti-colonial political thought, and wider global literary systems. Members of the group also work on poetry, film and drama, anthropology, postcolonial theory, and the publishing and reception of literature in the post-colony.

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Values and Reasons

This Research Group aims to promote research into questions about values and reasons as these arise in any subject area, and where appropriate to explore parallels and discrepancies between different approaches taken in different contexts.

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War and Peace in the Twentieth Century

The group is co-chaired by Professor Annika Mombauer and Dr Luc-André Brunet, and encompasses the research interests of a number of members of the History Department whose work focuses on war and peace, their causes, nature, and effects.

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