Education PhD/MPhil

Education PhD/MPhil
With over 200 years of experience in the field of education and ranking 24th worldwide, the School of Education is a dynamic centre for PhD study.

Fact file

PhD: 3 years full-time, 6 years part-time
MPhil: 2 years full-time, 4 years part-time
Entry requirements
Masters in a relevant discipline and 2:1 (or international equivalent); plus two years of relevant professional experience
7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element) If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
Other requirements
You will need a research proposal, two academic references and academic transcripts



With over 200 years of experience in the field of education, the School of Education is a dynamic centre for PhD study.

A PhD is the most advanced form of postgraduate study. It 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.

In the school, we have a broad commitment to improving and investigating social justice and equality in education. We provide a dynamic research environment, with a community of more than 300 students from 40 different countries. Some study and live here in the UK, while others are based countries around the world and make periodic visits to the UK to see their supervisor(s).

You will study alongside academic experts and will be assigned two supervisors appropriate to your field. Full-time students meet with their supervisors at least 10 times each year, while part-time students meet with them at least six times in the same period.

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

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


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.

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 their 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 which must be defended verbally to an internal assessor.

Find out how to apply

Key facts



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.

School facilities

You will have access to excellent facilities including an ICT and learning resource centre. Full-time students are given personal workstations, and part-time students have a dedicated drop-in work centre. You will have access to the full Microsoft Office suite and a range of education-specific software. All computers have internet access and are networked to a printer/photocopier.

Library facilities

Situated within the Djanogly Learning Resource Centre (DLRC) on Jubilee Campus, the education library provides group study rooms, computer facilities and an extensive collection of books, journals and manuscripts.

Graduate School

Representing the needs of postgraduate students across the University, the Graduate School provides research training and development for postgraduates and early career researchers.

You will have access to a dedicated space on Jubilee Campus, which includes a seminar room, lounge area, Wi-Fi, networked computers and a well-equipped kitchen.


Research support

Research training

We offer a substantial research training programme, consisting of training courses offered by the 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.

Tutorial support and feedback

Tutors will support and guide you in preparing, processing and writing-up your work. They will provide you with written comments on each assignment, including un-moderated grades (subject to amendments by the Examinations Board), and can discuss any future action that is required with you.

As you will be working at an advanced level, much of your time will be spent planning and carrying out systematic inquiries and preparation for assignments and dissertation. Tutors are crucial in providing intellectual and moral support and challenge for these processes, regarding their role in supporting you as a high professional priority.

Student Services

Student Services provide a range of support and information to enhance your student experience. They are part of a comprehensive network of University services that includes academic and disability support, counselling, financial support and childcare services.

Centre for English Language Education

Accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK, the University's Centre for English Language Education provides high-quality preparation and English language support, as well as a social programme for its students.

Students' Union

The Students' Union is an important source of support with their own Student Advice Centre and dedicated Postgraduate Officer.

Researcher Development Programme

Working closely with academic schools, the Graduate School's dedicated training team contribute to faculty specific and doctoral training programmes. They deliver core training in line with the standards set out by the UK's major research funders through their researcher development programme.


Find a supervisor

You will be assigned two supervisors appropriate to your field. Please make sure that we have a supervisor who shares an interest in your proposed area of research before applying. Details of research supervisors at the University can also be found on our research A to Z.


Fees and funding

Extra 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.

See information on how to fund your studies, including our step-by-step guide. Further information is available on the school website.

Midlands Graduate School

Nottingham is part of the Midlands Graduate School ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership, which offers funding opportunities for postgraduate students each year.

Government loans for doctoral study

The Government recently introduced doctoral student loans of up to £25,000 for PhDs and equivalent research programmes. Applicants must ordinarily live in England.

Doctoral training programmes

Linked to research councils, doctoral training programmes offer funding opportunities connected to our research priorities.

International and EU students

Research scholarships are available for outstanding international and EU students. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure your course application is submitted in good time.

Information and advice on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study is available on our website, as well as country-specific resources.



Employability and average starting salary

99.5% of postgraduates from the School of Education who were available for employment secured work or further study within six months of graduation. £22,500 was the average starting salary, with the highest being £38,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2016/17. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career and professional development

Whether you are looking to enhance your career prospects or develop your knowledge, a postgraduate degree from the University of Nottingham can help take you where you want to be.

The University's award-winning Careers and Employability Service offers specialist support and guidance while you study and for life after you graduate. They will help you explore and plan your next career move, through regular events, employer-led skills sessions, placement opportunities and one-to-one discussions.


Get in touch

+44 (0)115 951 5559  
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This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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