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PhD in Education


PhD in Education

Welcome from the PhD Programme Leader

Educational research at Plymouth University is rich and varied. Underpinning all of our research is a commitment to seek to transform educational experiences and outcomes for both learners and teachers.

At Plymouth we offer opportunities to engage in research that is interdisciplinary; linked to strong local, national and international networks and partnerships and supported by committed, expert supervisors who are keen to work with the next generation of educational researchers.

I hope the information provided here will help you make an informed decision about whether you would like to join our research community.

If you have questions or would like further information, please contact us at: 
Dr Joanna Haynes


This full time or part time doctoral programme is suitable for people who have a particular research question or topic in mind, and wish to explore this through independent study in order to produce an original contribution to the subject.
If you aspire to a research career (in academia or industry), this is the most appropriate research degree to undertake. 

Special features

  • Opportunity to join an active research network in the School of Education
  • Designed to be flexible with both full time and part time modes of study available
  • Comprehensive support from a team of supervisors
  • Membership of the newly formed Social Sciences Doctoral Training Centre.

Learning outcomes

Applicants will normally be expected to reside in the UK for the majority of the academic year to enable regular face-to-face contact with your tutors, except for periods of fieldwork overseas.

PhD students are allocated a team of at least two research supervisors who have expertise in your chosen area of study. You will be expected to attend regular supervision meetings and to conduct an annual training needs analysis with your supervisors. This identifies which training event or research seminars it would be appropriate for you to attend as part of your research training and professional development as a career researcher.

Potential research topics

The School of Education has three main research groupings:

Research across these three groups focuses on:

  • A range of different learners: from children through to adults;
  • Learning in different contexts, places and spaces: from schools and universities through to online and outdoor education;
  • Enhancing the way we teach and learn about core curricula subjects such as science, mathematics and technology;
  • The impact and influence of education: issues of transition, innovation and social justice.

Entry requirements

To gain entry to the programme,participants will usually need, or be about to gain, a Masters degree or a first or second upper class honours degree in a relevant subject. Other professional qualifications recognised as the
equivalent to a degree and experience which demonstrates that the applicant can meet the challenges and demands of the programme are also considered.

Overseas students will need to demonstrate their English Language Proficiency and have an overall score of 6.5 on IELTS (with no individual score lower than 6.0) or equivalent.

How to apply

Submitted research proposals should address the following questions:

  • What is the topic of your research
  • What question(s) will you aim to answer
  • What are your reasons for undertaking this research (including some theoretical justification and review of research that has been done in the field)
  • What data will you need to collect to carry out your research (do you already have access to your data source)
  • What are your proposed research method(s) and/ or your plans for how you will begin your research?

Your proposal must include a reference list and should not replicate work that you have already undertaken at masters or other level (although it can build on this work).

Student case study

One of our students, Ensaf Al Mulhim talks about her experience on the programme. 

Further Information:

Please contact Dr Joanna Haynes
or for business enquiries visit Enterprise Solutions

Research opportunities in this area:

Most groups provide research opportunities (including MPhil/PhD where available). Please get in touch with the contacts named above for further information.