School of Education


Programme structure

Start dates: September or January

PhD duration: The PhD is a three year full-time or six year part-time programme.

MPhil duration: The MPhil is a two year full-time or four year part-time programme.


Each student is assigned two supervisors appropriate to the field of study. Full-time students must attend for personal consultation with their supervisors at least 10 times in each calendar year. Part-time students must attend at least six times in a calendar year. These are minimum requirements.

In practice, students participate in a wide range of activities in the school as well as regular supervisions. Some supervision may be carried out by other means such as email, Skype, and video-conferencing.


PhD students must present a thesis, a maximum of 100,000 words, demonstrating originality and innovation on the subject of their advanced study and research. The thesis must satisfy examiners regarding knowledge of the general field of scholarship to which the subject belongs.

They must also present themselves for an oral examination on the subject of their thesis and its general field of scholarship.

MPhil students must present a thesis, a maximum of 60,000 words, embodying the results of their advanced study and research. The thesis must satisfy the examiners regarding knowledge of the general field of scholarship to which the subject belongs.

An oral examination occurs at the discretion of the examiners.

Confirmation of Status Review

All doctoral students are required to successfully undertake a Confirmation of Status Review within one year of full-time study, or 24 months of part-time study. Students produce a paper of around 12,000 words which is assessed and which must be defended orally to an internal assessor.

Research environment

The academic staff within the School of Education are active in teaching and research, keeping in close touch with the many major developments now affecting educational practitioners. The school has numerous links with educational institutions and organisations locally, nationally and internationally, ensuring that we are a dynamic place in which to work and study.

The school has Mode A status for ESRC full-time studentships. This means that all research students are able to access high quality training courses. These cover a wide range of approaches to educational research including qualitative, quantitative and action research.

We feel research students contribute their ideas, commitment and originality of thought to our work to improve the quality of education throughout the world. Consequently, we are committed to creating the best conditions, intellectual stimulus, academic and pastoral support. In particular, we take very seriously our commitment to provide high quality supervision to all our research students, and part of this is our concern to support students in their progress during the registration period.

Research training

We offer a substantial research training programme, consisting of generic training courses offered by the University Graduate School and research methods modules. The courses are free to students.

All full-time research students are required to attend the following four research training modules. Part-time students are welcome to attend if they wish:

  • Introduction to Educational Research: Designing, Conducting and Evaluating Research 
  • The Contexts of Educational Research: Philosophy, Theory, Methodology and Policy 
  • Generating Educational Research Data
  • Analysing Educational Research Data: Interpreting, Disseminating and Communicating Research

It may be possible for you to gain exemption for some of these modules if you have previously studied research training courses at the appropriate level.

Transfer from MPhil to PhD

Some students are first registered on an MPhil if they do not qualify for entry to the PhD. In this case you can then apply to transfer from the MPhil to a PhD degree. You must complete at least nine months' study for the MPhil before applying to transfer.

A transfer application needs the approval of your supervisors and Head of School and you will be asked to make a presentation to a Review Panel. The Review Panel will expect to hear how you propose to extend your original MPhil proposal into work at doctoral level, including a higher level of originality and more sustained analysis. You must prepare a transfer paper supporting your transfer application, to include a literature review, some consideration of methodology, and the research methods you will adopt.

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School of Education

University of Nottingham
Jubilee Campus
Wollaton Road
Nottingham, NG8 1BB

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