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 2022 entry.


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


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.

Meeting our English language requirements

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

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.

For on-campus presessional English courses, you must take IELTS for UKVI to meet visa regulations. For online presessional courses, see our CELE webpages for guidance.

Visa restrictions

International students must have valid UK immigration permissions for any courses or study period where teaching takes place in the UK. Student route visas can be issued for eligible students studying full-time courses. The University of Nottingham does not sponsor a student visa for students studying part-time courses. The Standard Visitor visa route is not appropriate in all cases. Please contact the university’s Visa and Immigration team if you need advice about your visa options.

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£4,625 - subject to slight annual increase
International£20,000 - subject to slight annual increase

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you may be asked to complete a fee status questionnaire and your answers will be assessed usingguidance issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA).

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

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.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate 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 is the network for researchers, and staff who support them. We work together to promote a healthy research culture, to cultivate researcher excellence, and develop creative partnerships that enable researchers to flourish.

Postgraduate researchers at Nottingham have access to our online Members’ area, which includes a wealth of resources, access to training courses and award-winning postgraduate placements.

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
  • mental health and wellbeing support
  • visa and immigration advice
  • welfare support

Students' Union

Our Students' Union represents all students. You can join the Postgraduate Students’ Network or contact the dedicated Postgraduate Officer.

There are also a range of support networks, including groups for:

  • international students
  • black and minority ethnic students
  • students who identify as women
  • students with disabilities
  • LGBT+ students

SU Advice provides free, independent and confidential advice on issues such as accommodation, financial and academic difficulties.

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Where you will learn

Jubilee Campus

Jubilee Campus has eco-friendly buildings, alongside green spaces, wildlife and a lake. 

This campus is home to our business, education and computer science schools, as well as a sports centre and student accommodation.

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.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

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.

93.3% 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 £24,173.*

* Data from University of Nottingham graduates, 2017-2019. HESA Graduate Outcomes. Sample sizes vary. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

Dr Sarah Amsler
The world is calling for creative and daring approaches to critical educational research. It is exciting to work with a diverse community of doctoral researchers who are undertaking inquiry that opens up new ways of understanding our challenges and possibilities in educational work, and that integrates theory with practice.
Dr Sarah Amsler, 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 22 March 2022. 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.