Design at the Open University is distinctive in being devoted to the subject of design generally, and not confined to any one professional area of application. Instead we focus on the creative, technical and social dimensions of design and innovation, which are generic across domains. This is at the core of our teaching and our research, both of which draw on multi-disciplinary views of design across product design, architecture, engineering, fashion, transport, education, health and services.

Read about the History of Design at the OU.

Our multi-disciplinarity is reflected in our staff and students, who include not only designers and architects, but also mathematicians, social scientists, computer scientists and engineers. Collectively, we combine rigorous research of design practise with a real passion for design, as a means of addressing and transforming the challenges of modern society.

The Design Group is part of the Department of Engineering and Innovation in the Faculty of Maths, Computing and Technology at the Open University.


PhD Programme

Design Star

The Design Group is a member of the AHRC Design Star doctoral training centre, along with other leading UK design departments. Design Star training is innovative, stimulating and relevant, supported by a broader range of expertise and covering more methods than is possible in a single institution. 



Our design research focusses on general principles across domains of practice, with an emphasis on conceptualising design in terms of evolving processes and transitions. We are concerned with the social and collaborative dimensions of design processes as well as the methods and models for improving design processes for complex products and services, as evidenced in our research themes:


- Design Processes

- Design Ecologies

- Complexity and Design

- Collaborative Design



Design and innovation is all around us, in everything from the latest fashions to cutting-edge technological equipment. By studying with us you can gain a unique insight into the many branches of design. The research-based case studies featured in our modules will take you from chair design to roller-coasters and beyond. You don't need to have a technical background and the skills you'll gain will be useful in a wide range of professions.

We offer a BA/BSc Design and Innovation which comprises three core Design modules; these are taken alongside selected pathway modules from either Arts, Business, Engineering or Environment. In addition to this the Design modules contribute to a range of other qualifications including the BA Open (QD), which enables students to construct their own degree based on their interests and preferences. We also contributed our design expertise to the teaching materials in Engineering and Environment.



- BA/BSc (Honours) Design and Innovation 

- Research Degrees

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