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Research degrees in Education PhD

  • Level(s) of Study: Postgraduate research
  • Start Date(s): All year round depending on the project
  • Duration: 4 / 8 year(s)
  • Study Mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Campus: Clifton Campus
  • Entry Requirements:
    More information


Nottingham Trent University offers opportunities to study for a PhD by research. Supervision is available by full-time or part-time study, and can sometimes be provided by distance learning.

The University Doctoral School also runs a competitive annual competition for bursaries to undertake research degrees. A strong feature of its research degrees is the development of skills, networks and know-how necessary to build successful careers, whether you intend to stay within academia or pursue a career in another walk of life. We offer effective training and support from friendly and approachable staff, reinforced by strong collaborative links with business, public services and external academic networks.

We host education research and researchers from across the University. This cross-university approach creates a vibrant research environment with researchers engaged in work of nationally and internationally recognised quality.

We also offer an Ed D programme for students with primary interest in researching practice, who wish to broaden the horizons of their own professional work.

Supporting your studies

Carrying out research for a PhD or ProfD requires different skills from undergraduate or taught postgraduate study. You will mostly work on your own research project, but we also emphasise the importance of regular meetings with your supervisory team.

The team consists of a director of studies (who will usually have expertise in your subject area) and at least one other supervisor selected for their complementary expertise such as relevant research methods.

The Doctoral School Team will support you from your initial enquiry, through the application process and the various stages of your degree, until your viva voce examination and subsequent graduation. Once you begin your studies, you will have induction sessions to introduce you to the University, help you settle in and meet other researchers.

Researcher training

In addition to studying for a research degree, students undertaking traditional route PhDs will participate in researcher training. This combines general research training with specific topics associated with your discipline. The training focuses on the requirements of external research funding bodies and government requirements.

We also provide a structured programme of transferable skills training and career development. This is informed by the work of Vitae, the national organisation which support researchers throughout their careers.

What you’ll study

Research is organised around one main research group: Education Policy and Practice.

This group plays to the research strengths of staff both within the Nottingham Institute of Education and other departments.

Some broad themes investigated by group members include the following:

Education Policy and Practice

  • Creativity and Creative Practices (Dymoke, Chantrey-Wood)
  • Equity, Social Justice and Inclusion (Paechter, Arbuoin, Doak, O'Grady,  Tyler-Merrick)
  • Higher Education, Academic Experience, Graduate Employability (Aiken, Friend, Kushnir, Mbah)
  • Education Policy and Sociology (Clapham, Kushnir, Mbah, Nikita)
  • School Curriculum, E-learning (Hardy, Richards, Dymoke)
  • Performativity, Accountability, Leadership, Professional Development (Rolph, Sood, Kearsley-Bullen)
  • Assessment and Feedback (Ferguson, Serret)

Doctoral Supervision

Please see our Education page which includes links to staff, and their personal research profiles, who are in a position to supervise Doctoral students.

Researchers in the broad area of education work in collaboration with a range of scholars from across the academic community in the UK, Europe and further afield.

Research across the groups is funded by various bodies including Local Authorities, Government Departments, the European Union and Research Councils. These groups span a wide range of specialisms and conduct research of internationally recognised quality.

Support and supervision

During your research you will be supported by a dedicated supervision team with specialist knowledge in your field of activity. You will also have full access to student support centres, financial advice, careers advice, disability support, counselling and an accommodation service.

Staff Profiles

Dr Chris Rolph

Director - Nottingham Institute of Education

School of Social Sciences

Chris Rolph, Director of Nottingham Institute of Education at NTU

Careers and employability

In education the PhD opens significant possibilities for research and research-based development work in higher education and within a multiplicity of associated institutions. In addition to undertaking further research, your wide-ranging background reading, together with your highly-tuned skills of analysis and synthesis, make you a sought after individual in wide spectrum of posts. This include policy analysis, policy implementation and development, through to teaching and lecturing in a wide range of different institutions.

Your career development

Nottingham Trent University prides itself on the real-world relevance of its courses and places particular emphasis on helping students to develop the academic and practical know-how that encourages initiative, innovation and academic excellence.

All our research degrees incorporate a programme of supporting studies designed to develop knowledge and skills of all aspects of the research process, including the funding and dissemination of research. This will ensure that you have the necessary expertise to successfully complete your doctoral programme and lay sound foundations for your future career.

Participation in academic conferences, seminars and external networks will cultivate contacts, skills and knowledge essential for successful research practice. These abilities are also transferable to a wide range of other careers. Researchers are also invited to take part in our own Research Conferences giving you the opportunity to present your work and discuss with other researchers at NTU.

There are some opportunities for research students to prepare for an academic career by teaching undergraduate students or supervising laboratory work. Students may take part in the Introduction to Learning and Teaching in Higher Education training programme.

Although formal placements are not a requirement of PhDs, the University has strong links with professionals in business and industry.

There are opportunities to participate in ERASMUS overseas exchanges in some subject areas. The University has links with many other institutions such as:

  • Sapienza Università di Roma
  • Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
  • l'Université d'Angers
  • Universitat Ramon Llull (Barcelona).

Campus and facilities

Entry requirements

An applicant for admission to read for a PhD should normally hold a first or upper second class honours degree of a UK university or an equivalent qualification, or a lower second class honours degree with a Master's degree at Merit level of a UK university or an equivalent qualification.

International students will also need to meet the English language requirements - IELTS 6.5 (with minimum sub-scores of 6.0).

Applicants who have taken a higher degree at a UK university are normally exempt from the English language requirements. Applicants who do not meet the English language proficiency requirement will normally be asked to complete an English Language course.

Fees and funding


See our Fees page for details.


Preparing for the financial side of student life is important, but there's no need to feel anxious and confused about it. We hope that our funding pages will answer all your questions.

You might be able to get a scholarship to help fund your studies. We award scholarships to those students who can demonstrate excellent achievement, passion and dedication to their studies.

Please take a look at our postgraduates’ guide funding page for information about sourcing grants, bursaries and scholarships, and much more.

How to apply

Application process

To apply for a PhD please submit a research proposal (between 1,000 and a maximum of 2,000 words) which addresses the following points:

  • Provisional title
  • The topic or area to be investigated (the subject or field that you are going to investigate)
  • The problem or hypothesis to be tested (the research questions or problem you want to address, the research objectives)
  • The relationship of the proposed research to the published literature and to current research in the field (how your project relates to other work)
  • An indication of the contribution to knowledge that the thesis is anticipated to make (what you hope to find out)
  • The methods and techniques to be used in the research (how you propose to go about the research)
  • A provisional timetable for the project, indicating anticipated activities
  • Details of your previous work in the proposed field, or relationship to prior experience or study
  • Bibliography of sources already consulted or identified as of relevance to your proposal.

As you’re applying for a Research degree, you may also like to have a look around our Research pages. This may help you to spot academic staff, research areas or projects that interest you.

How to apply

Visit the Doctoral School's step by step guide to make an application.

Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.