School of Education

Professional Doctorate in Education (EdD)

The Professional Doctorate in Education (EdD) is an exciting opportunity for experienced education professionals to develop the critical knowledge and skills necessary to undertake their own research and thereby improve their educational practices and contexts.

This programme brings people together from across education sectors to work as a cohort in a series of weekend study schools and then on an extended piece of original research. At all times students will be expected to develop their own arguments and critical standpoint in relation to education research.

The programme is directed by Professor Jeremy Hodgen and taught by an established team of nationally and internationally recognised education scholars who boast a wide range of expertise and experience in research, teaching and policy work.

Programme structure

Start date: October

Duration: Students must study for a minimum of four years part-time to complete the degree, with most students expecting to spend around six years, and an upper limit of eight years of study.

The programme is divided into two parts as described below and candidates will be awarded the Professional Doctorate if they successfully complete Part II by submitting a thesis or portfolio of 50-60,000 words and undergo a viva voce examination. Progression to Part II is predicated upon successful completion of Part I.

The structuring of the programme in this way is designed to support busy professionals undergoing part-time study and allows exit routes, where appropriate, for students who, for whatever reason, are not able to complete the full programme.

Part I (Taught Element: attendance at eight weekend schools)

The first part of the programme is taught in a series of eight weekend schools (Friday/Saturday; two weekend schools per module). The timing of these weekends has been provisionally planned up and has avoided major holiday periods (for the UK, eg Easter, Spring Bank Holiday). All refreshments and lunches will be provided. 

Some participants will travel from a distance for study weekends and information about University accommodation will be made available well in advance, although applicants are free to organise their own alternative. Accommodation costs are not included in the course fee.

The development of the cohort is central to ensuring maximum benefit from the support within the group, particularly during the later stages of the programme.

During Part I the cohort will follow the same programme. However, as we assume that participants' education context will be the site for application of the principles learned in modules, there will be regular opportunity to focus assessed work on your own particular area of interest.


Module 1: Understanding Education Knowledge 

This introductory module explores what it means to be a researching professional by developing critical perspectives on knowledge and practice in educational settings. It considers how policy, research, professional, pedagogic and practical knowledge is created, contested and/or consumed by education policymakers, professionals and practitioners. Drawing upon a range of approaches to, and ideas about, knowledge-work the module allows participants to explore these forms of knowledge within areas of education that are of particular concern to individuals and/or subgroups within the cohort.

Module 2: Methodology and Methods for Researching Education; and Module 3: The Literature Review for Researching Education Practice 

Modules 2 and 3 integrate education research philosophy, theory, methodology and techniques. This is done in an iterative way to maintain a dialectical relationship between research theory and practice. Some of the theoretical 'big ideas' in education research are explored as well as how these might be appropriated by researching professionals. 

The modules explore the challenges of designing good education research studies, particularly when researching one's context or practice. This includes consideration of the peculiar ethical and practical difficulties faced by insider researchers. Some introduction is made to common methodological frameworks and techniques but generally the emphasis is less upon research methods training and more upon developing dispositions (eg. criticality, reflexivity, positionality) towards research design and practice.

Module 4: Key Debates and Issues for Researching Education

The final taught module builds on Module 1 and allows participants to take a more in depth look at educational practice within their own sector. Participants will explore relevant and key debates and literatures which will be useful in framing their ideas for developing the research proposal in Part II of the programme. The assessment from this module is likely to act as a springboard for the programme of research for Part II.


Part II (Thesis stage)

In Part II of the programme participants undertake a sustained programme of research in their own education sub-field, focused on their own context and/or practice. This should take a minimum of two years and the final submission can take two forms:

  • Thesis of 50-60,000 words based on a single empirical study.
  • Production of a 50-60,000 word portfolio typically consisting of three linked pieces of research (3 x 10,000) and a 20,000 word overview and meta-analysis. This can, where appropriate, include educational products (eg. film, design research outputs, software) as part of the submission, but this would be in addition to the requisite 50,000 words.

This stage starts with compulsory attendance at the Summer School undertaken at the end of year two and there will be an expectation that participants return each year during summer school to form an ongoing community of researching education professionals.

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School of Education

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

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