Research overview

Researchers in the School of Education are committed to investigating and advancing social justice within and through education. You will undertake your doctoral study in a supportive international and interdisciplinary research community. 

The school has over 150 years of experience in educational research and draws researchers and teachers whose work addresses current issues affecting educational practitioners, theory, institutions and systems. Our researchers have strong relationships with local and international organisations, and you will work with two supervisors who share interest in your field.   

Education research areas include: 

  • literacies and literacy practices
  • education for human flourishing 
  • education and international politics and development 
  • education and social justice
  • higher, adult and vocational education 
  • language education
  • informal and non-formal education
  • learning sciences 
  • learning through the arts, creative pedagogies and science 
  • mathematics education 
  • refugee/migrant 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. An MPhil, which is narrower in scope, is awarded on the successful completion of supervised research and submission of a final thesis.


Full-time doctoral students should meet with their supervisors at least 10 times each year. Part-time doctoral students should meet with their supervisors at least 6 times each year.


PhD students must submit and verbally defend a thesis (maximum 100,000 words), demonstrating to the examiners' satisfaction that the research project and thesis represents a knowledgeable and original contribution to the field(s) of scholarship and research.

MPhil students must submit a thesis (maximum 60,000 words), presenting the results of their scholarship and research. The thesis must demonstrate to the examiners' satisfaction that the research project and thesis represents advanced knowledge in the field(s) of scholarship and research. In some cases, examiners may require a verbal examination of the thesis.

Confirmation of studies review 

All doctoral students are required to successfully complete a 12,000-word confirmation of studies review within one year of full-time study. Confirmation of studies is approved on the basis of the 12,000-word written academic paper and report as well as a verbal defence with an internal assessor assigned from within the school.

Annual review

Following the successful completion of the confirmation of studies review, all doctoral students are required to submit further annual reviews at the end of each academic year.

In year two of full-time study, you also will need to submit a piece of academic writing of 7,000 words alongside an annual review report to be examined by an internal assessor through a verbal defence.

For all annual progress review assessments, records of regular supervisory meetings will need to be submitted with annual progress review reports as evidence of ongoing and consistent engagement in your studies.

All elements and milestones of your programme need to be passed annually for you to continue your research programme.

Doctoral training

Doctoral students also will be required to participate fully in doctoral training seminars and events throughout their studies with us, through the School of Education as well as the Researcher Academy. This includes full participation in annual doctoral student-led PGR conferences as well as mandatory seminars such as those on ethics and research integrity.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2024 entry.


Masters with a grade of 2:1 (or higher or international equivalent)


Masters with a grade of 2:1 (or higher or international equivalent)

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


QualificationPhD or MPhil
Home / UK£5,100

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 using guidance 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

All students will need at least one device to approve security access requests via Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). We also recommend students have a suitable laptop to work both on and off-campus. For more information, please check the equipment advice.

This course does not incur additional costs beyond tuition fees and living expenses, but you should factor in other possible expenses for travel and other needs. Many resources for research (such as books, articles and equipment) are accessible for loan within the university. You may apply to the Researcher Academy and School of Education for support with research expenses, conference presentation and attendance, as well as DBS checks if your research requires UK-based fieldwork.


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

All research students in the School of Education have access to a range of free short courses and research training events offered by the school and the university's Researcher Academy.

First-year PhD students are also required to complete the school's doctoral training programme during the first year of their study.

You may also apply to the Researcher Academy and School of Education for financial support to attend training that is necessary beyond the university.

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 postgraduate researchers go on to work as:

  • academic teachers and researchers
  • artists
  • counsellors
  • educational policy and practice advisers
  • educational leaders
  • counsellors
  • language tutors
  • primary and secondary teachers
  • vocational or industrial trainers and instructors

Many of our postgraduate researchers are working in professional careers while undertaking part-time study.

95.2% 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 £28,108.*

* HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020/21 data published in 2023. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time, postgraduate, home graduates within the UK.

Related courses

Research Excellence Framework

The University of Nottingham is ranked 7th in the UK for research power, according to analysis by Times Higher Education. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a national assessment of the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.

  • Vast majority of our outputs were assessed as internationally excellent
  • Over half of our outputs were given the highest score of 4*
  • 90%* of our research is classed as 'world-leading' (4*) or 'internationally excellent' (3*)
  • 100%* of our research is recognised internationally
  • 51% of our research is assessed as 'world-leading' (4*) for its impact**

*According to analysis by Times Higher Education ** According to our own analysis.

This content was last updated on 03 January 2024. 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.