Professional Doctorate in Education (EdD)

Professional Doctorate in Education
Professional Doctorates are doctoral level qualifications, equivalent to traditional PhDs.

Fact file

6 years part-time
Entry requirements
Masters degree in a relevant discipline and a 2:1 (or international equivalent); plus at least two years of professional experience in a relevant field or another suitable qualification
7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element) If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
Professional Doctorate in Education
Other requirements
You will need a 750 word piece on a current problem related to your professional practice, two academic references and academic transcripts/certificates



Professional Doctorates are doctoral level qualifications, equivalent to traditional PhDs.

The Professional Doctorate in Education (EdD) is suitable for those working in:

  • education from early years to higher education
  • local government/civil service
  • educational organisation bodies
  • education in museums and prisons
  • charities/NGOs
  • other educational settings

The programme:

  • is linked to practice so you will draw on your own educational experiences
  • is designed for busy professionals, offering weekend/summer attendance to fit in study alongside a full-time job
  • allows you be part of a strong cohesive cohort of education practitioners

This 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.

It is 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

You 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 and has avoided major holiday periods for the UK. 

Module 1: Understanding Education Knowledge

  • Friday 11- Saturday 12 October 2019
  • Friday 15 – Saturday 16 November 2019

Module 2: Methodology and Methods for Researching Education

  • Friday 20 – Saturday 23 March 2020
  • Friday 22 – Saturday 23 May 2020

There is an EdD summer school each year in July. This is compulsory for students in the second year of their studies and optional for other students. This will help you to develop your research and writing skills. The dates for this are:

  • Monday 27 – Tuesday 28 July 2020

Please note all dates are provisional and subject to change.

Your attendance will typically be equal to four full days per module. International students can apply for the short-term study visit visa for this programme.

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 (for example, 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 (for example, film, design research outputs, software) as part of the submission, but this would be in addition to the requisite 50,000 words.

Supervision is offered by colleagues across our research centres in the School of Education and if appropriate we may be able to work with academic colleagues elsewhere in the University to offer joint supervision across schools.

Written piece to support your application

You need to write a short piece of writing (750-1,500 words) on a current problem that concerns you related to your professional practice. The problem could be related to a topic that you are interested in researching on the EdD, but this is not a requirement. We will use this to assess your academic writing.

You should:

  • identify the problem clearly
  • use theory and/or research evidence to illuminate the problem
  • cite 5-10 academic publications appropriately

Potential course members are usually interviewed before any offer of a place is made. As part of this process applicants will be expected to provide an example of recent writing such as a published paper or MA/MSc assignment and will normally be asked to write a short additional piece of writing.



School facilities

You will have access to outstanding facilities, with an exceptional ICT and Learning Resource Centre, personal workstations for full-time MPhil/PhD students and a dedicated drop-in work centre for part-time students.

The computers offer the full Microsoft Office suite of programmes as well as internet access and a range of education-specific software packages. These computers are networked to a printer, and there is also a photocopier.

Library facilities

The Education Library is situated with the Djanogly Learning Resource Centre (DLRC) on the Jubilee Campus. All students who are connected to the internet will be able to access the library's electronic services via a given username.

An inter-library loan service is available to all registered students. On joining the library, you will be automatically allocated a quota from the library UNLOC catalogue.


Accommodation costs are not included in the course fee. If you require accommodation during your study period in Nottingham, please visit our accommodation website for options to stay on-campus or within the Nottingham area.


Research support

Tutorial support and feedback

Tutors will provide you with appropriate support and guidance on request to assist you in the preparation, process, and writing-up stages of your work.

Your tutors will provide you with written comments on each assignment, and you are invited to make contact with the tutors to discuss this feedback. The written comments will include the un-moderated grades (ie subject to amendments by the Examinations Board) and advice for future action where appropriate.

Because you will be working at an advanced level, we assume that much of your time will be spent planning and carrying out systematic inquiries and preparation for assignments and dissertation. The role of your tutor will be crucial in providing intellectual and moral support and challenge for these processes. Tutors regard this support role 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

The programme is 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. 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, we do not anticipate any extra significant costs, alongside your tuition fees and living expenses. You should be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to purchase your own copies which you would need to factor into your budget. You may incur some costs if you have to travel for data collection purposes.

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.



Career destinations for our graduates include counsellors, education advisers, language tutors, primary/secondary teachers and vocational/industrial trainers and instructors. A number of our graduates are already in employment while undertaking part-time study for professional development in their chosen career.

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.

Our 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.


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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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