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Research overview

As a school, we are committed to improving and investigating social justice and equality in education. You will study in a supportive research community, with students from across the globe.  

You will benefit from over 200 years of experience in the field of education. Our staff, many of whom are research active, stay abreast of the latest developments affecting educational practitioners. They also hold strong links with educational institutions and organisations locally, nationally and internationally. You will be assigned two supervisors appropriate to your field.   

Education research areas include: 

  • changing literacy practices 
  • education for human flourishing 
  • education and international development 
  • higher, adult and vocational education 
  • learning sciences 
  • learning through the arts, creative pedagogies and science 
  • mathematics education 
  • school leadership and improvement 
  • teachers' work, professionalism and education policy 

Entry to our postgraduate research programme is competitive and having a strong research proposal is therefore very important. 

Course content


A PhD is awarded on the successful completion of supervised research, verbal examination and final thesis. While an MPhil has less scope and complexity, it requires similar training and research, and is assessed by the submission of a thesis. 


Full-time students should aim to meet with their supervisors at least 10 times each year. This would be at least six times in the same period for part-time students. 


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

MPhil students must present a thesis, a maximum of 60,000 words, embodying the results of your advanced study and research. The thesis must satisfy the examiners regarding knowledge of the general field of scholarship to which the subject belongs. A verbal 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. You will produce a paper of around 12,000 words, which is assessed and must be defended verbally to an internal assessor. 

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2021 entry.

Undergraduate degree

Masters in a relevant discipline and 2:1 (or international equivalent); plus two years of relevant professional experience

Undergraduate degree

Masters in a relevant discipline and 2:1 (or international equivalent); plus two years of relevant professional experience

International and EU equivalents

We accept a wide range of qualifications from all over the world.

For information on entry requirements from your country, see our country pages.

IELTS7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)
English language requirements

As well as IELTS (listed above), we also accept other English language qualifications.

This includes TOEFL iBT, Pearson PTE, GCSE, IB and O level English.

English language support

If you need support to meet the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course. Our Centre for English Language Education is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

For presessional English courses, you must take IELTS for UKVI to meet visa regulations.

If you successfully complete your presessional course to the required level, you can then progress to your degree course. This means that you won't need to retake IELTS or equivalent.

We recognise that applicants have a variety of experiences and follow different pathways to postgraduate study.

We treat all applicants with alternative qualifications on an individual basis. We may also consider relevant work experience.

If you are unsure whether your qualifications or work experience are relevant, contact us.


Find a supervisor

Our step-by-step guide contains everything you need to know about applying for postgraduate research.

How to apply


Home / UK£4,496 (estimate) per year
International£19,000 per year

UK fees are set in line with the national UKRI maximum fee limit. The figures shown above match the limit for 2020 entry. We expect fees for 2021 entry to be confirmed in February 2021.

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland starting your course in the 2021/22 academic year, you will pay international tuition fees.

This does not apply to Irish students, who will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our Brexit information for future students.

Additional costs

As a student on this course, you should factor some additional costs into your budget, alongside your tuition fees and living expenses. You should be able to access most of the books and papers you'll need through our libraries.

If your research work includes UK based field work the school covers the cost of a DBS check, where necessary. The school will support research expenses to a maximum of £250 per annum for PhD students subject to application, and conference attendance up to £400 for a paper and up to £150 for attending per annum depending on application.

Please note that these figures are approximate and subject to change.


There are many ways to fund your research degree, from scholarships to government loans.

Our step-by-step guide contains everything you need to know about funding your postgraduate degree.

Research funding


Research training

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 offered by the Graduate School. These cover a wide range of approaches to educational research including qualitative, quantitative and action research and 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.

Researcher training and development

The Researcher Academy supports all postgraduate researchers at the University.

You can develop your research skills through:

  • paid work placements
  • training courses
  • public engagement opportunities

Student support

You will have access to a range of support services, including:

  • academic and disability support
  • childcare services
  • counselling service
  • faith support
  • financial support
  • visa and immigration advice
  • welfare support

Where you will learn

Jubilee Campus

Jubilee Campus has eco-friendly and sustainable buildings, alongside green spaces, wildlife and a lake. It has won a national Green Flag award every year since 2013.

This campus is home to our business, education and computer science schools. Alongside a sports centre and student accommodation, we've developed new facilities such as the Advanced Manufacturing Building.

You can walk to University Park Campus in around 20 minutes or catch a free hopper bus. Nottingham city centre is 20 minutes away by public bus.


Whether you are considering a career in academia, industry or haven't yet decided, we’re here to support you every step of the way.

Expert staff will work with you to explore PhD career options and apply for vacancies, develop your interview skills and meet employers. You can book a one-to-one appointment, take an online course or attend a workshop.

Our researchers go on to work as counsellors, education advisers, language tutors, primary/secondary teachers and vocational/industrial trainers and instructors. A number of our researchers are already in employment while undertaking part-time study for professional development in their chosen career.

94.3% of postgraduates from the School of Education secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £28,280.*

* HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020, using methodology set by The Guardian. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

Currently, I am researching the teaching of handwriting and its relationship with composing, the teaching of languages in primary schools and the use and effects of homework in primary schools. My supervisory roles have also helped develop great expertise in research methods training.
Jane Medwell, course leader

Related courses

Research Excellence Framework

We are ranked 8th in the UK for research power (2014). The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system used by UK higher education funding bodies to assess research quality in universities.

  • 3rd in the UK
  • 84% of our research was considered world-leading or internationally excellent with 55% rated at the highest score
  • all of our submission relating to research impact and research environment was considered to be world-leading - our school is the only education submission to achieve this
  • More than 97% of research at Nottingham is recognised internationally
  • More than 80% of our research is ranked in the highest categories as world-leading or internationally excellent
  • 16 of our 29 subject areas feature in the UK top 10 by research power

This content was last updated on 27 November 2020. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.