Learning and Learning Contexts Doctorate (EdD)

Learning and Learning Context

The Learning and Learning Contexts Doctorate (EdD) is ideal for students interested in a rigorous programme that combines the research elements of a PhD with significant taught components. This EdD has been designed to accommodate part-time study for full-time professionals. Saturday seminars allow students to engage with high level ideas while reflecting on their own working practices, contexts and research interests.

Students and graduates from the programme have backgrounds in a variety of professions including roles in traditional Education sectors, including FE and HE, as well as the Police, Fire Service and NHS. Students particularly benefit from the seminar group experience where they are enabled to encounter new ideas and to share responses and reflections in seminars – as opposed to the self-study format of a PhD. In addition, research training is provided.

Our graduates have secured employment in leading roles in numerous schools, FE colleges and HE institutions.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Combined research and taught

Study Options: Part time

Duration: 6 years part-time (this is the minimum registration period for part-time study, although it may be possible to complete after 4 years part-time)

Start date: Contact the School directly


Admissions Tutor: Dr Nick Peim

PGR Admissions Contact: Helen Joinson

You can contact us on +44 (0) 121 414 4847


The School of Education offers wide and varied opportunities to undertake research programmes that will support the growth of research skills and build on subject knowledge. With over 100 lecturing and research staff and dedicated research centres, our School of Education is one of the largest research-led schools of education in the UK with a distinguished reputation for excellence in our research and teaching practice both nationally and internationally. We have a history of 5 star rated research and in the 2008 Research Excellence Exercise (RAE), 80% of our work was recognised as being of international quality. You will undertake advanced research under the supervision and guidance of an experienced member of the School of Education staff.

To complete this programme you have to gain a total of 540 credits. The programme divides into two parts, a taught element made up of modules totalling 180 credits, and a research thesis which is equivalent to 360 credits. All the taught elements take place on a Saturday making this programme ideal for those who wish to study part-time. Research training is provided.

Student profiles

Alan and Roshan share their research interests and provide details of their thesis.

Please view our Education PhD webpage if you wish to complete a research degree by thesis only.


Learning and Transformation: Theoretical Perspectives on Teaching and Learning

This key module introduces the main critical perspectives on learning within different, related contexts. It adopts a cross-disciplinary and problem-based approach and will engage the students in the study of the following areas:

  • Cognitive and psychological theories of teaching and learning
  • Social contexts of learning and learning theories
  • Policy and discourse contexts of learning

This relational approach is crucial to the fundamental focus of the EdD that research on education and learning involves a new research culture and partnership, with a professional and evidence based practice as its core.

Special Studies in Learning: Theory, Practice or Policy

This module brings together the key strands of the professional doctorate in Learning and Learning Contexts – theories, practices and policies – and relates them to the particular context within which students are to carry out their dissertation. As such the module will mainly reflect the particular research literature relating to the individual student’s (or group of students’) research interest and the methodological issues concerning their individual research. These will be linked to the
overarching themes developed within previous modules on the professional doctorate in Learning and Learning Contexts. Participants will receive training in case study methods and will be expected to discuss with other students the significance of their studies in terms of the insights gained about learning, learning contexts and policy as it impacts on contexts. Areas in which enquiries may occur will include networked environments, medical education, subject specialist settings, informal settings and others.

Cultures and Contexts of Learning

This module is designed to provide knowledge and understanding of specific, local contexts of learning. It will deal with spaces and environments of learning, their social and material technologies. It will provide theoretical resources and occasions to examine spaces of learning. The module will give attention to the wider institutional and systemic contexts
of spaces of learning, giving attention to their genealogies and structures. The module will make the frameworks for description, analysis and critique of learning spaces explicit. The module content will include:

  • Frameworks of description, analysis and critique
  • Environments, spaces and technologies: mapping sites of learning
  • Historical and contemporary perspectives on sites of learning
  • Learning spaces and culture: power/knowledge, cultural differences, inclusion/exclusion
  • Socio-cultural activity theory, related and conflicting discourses

Specialist Research Module: Researching Learning

In this module participants will clarify their research questions in the area of learning and relate them to methodological choices and connected issues of research design. To inform this process participants will consider critically a number of research approaches used in research on learning and learners. Participants will also be encouraged to examine relationships between research and policy and research and practice in order to consider the implications of
their own work and how it might be used by different audiences.

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply

Overseas Fees

Please view our Fees for International Students page for further details. 

Learn more about fees and funding

Scholarships and studentships
Scholarships may be available. International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government. More details may be found on the international scholarships page

For further information contact the School directly or the Student Funding Office via online enquiries

Entry requirements

Learn more about entry requirements

International students

We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now


Admissions Tutor: Dr Nick Peim

PGR Admissions Contact: Helen Joinson

You can contact us on +44 (0) 121 414 4847

Learning and teaching

Modules are designated either Research or Subject Modules. You have some choice about the balance between the two. You can either take 60 or 80 credits (ie, three or four modules) of subject focused courses but the remainder of 180 credits has to be completed through research training. Subject modules explore the cultures and contexts of learning and theoretical perspectives on teaching and learning. From the outset, this course will provide opportunities to develop and apply ideas toward students' own research goals including a special study in Year 1.

In addition to the research training modules each pathway has its own specialist research module which serves to support the development of your final research plan.

In general, taught elements will be completed in the first half of the course, which then enables students to focus on main data collection and the writing of their thesis in the second half.

Research Facilities

The School of Education is equipped with the facilities to suit your needs, whatever programme you may be studying with us. As a doctoral researcher you have 24-hour access to work space in our research suite, where there are computer and telephone facilities. You also have access to University libraries and computer facilities, as well as other entitlements such as grants towards conference attendance and photocopying. Many research students work with supervisors in publishing articles and making their work public.

In addition, we have our own Education library, based within the main Education building on campus, with specialised resources including e-journals and education sector-specific literature. The education library has two group study rooms for education students. Both rooms can accommodate up to 15 people. Facilities available include PC and large smart board displays that can be used for presentations and teaching practice. We have also recently refurbished our Student Common Room facilities as an informal learning space for education students.

The Orchard Learning Resource Centre (OLRC) which is situated on our Selly Oak Campus, holds over 200,000 items, encompassing religious studies, social sciences and humanities. Collections include the European Documentation Collection (EDC) of over 10,000 items published by the European Commission and the German, Arabic and Oriental collections as well as the predominantly Russian-language Baykov Collection.

A vast array of IT facilities is available to students and staff within the school. Flexible open access computer clusters and learning suites are available, with school specific software.

To find out more about the facilities and resources available in the School of Education, including online and e-learning facilities, please visit: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/education/facilities/index.aspx


Admissions Tutor: Dr Nick Peim

PGR Admissions Contact: Helen Joinson

You can contact us on +44 (0) 121 414 4847


The University of Birmingham has recently been ranked 9th in the UK, and 55th in the world, for post-qualification employability in a global survey of universities commissioned by the International Herald Tribune. Over the last five years, an impressive 98.3 % of Education postgraduates have been in work and/or further study six months after graduation.

Birmingham’s Education graduates choose to work in variety of education roles in schools and administrative roles in public and private sector organisations. Work in retail, sales and administration are also popular options. Some chose to continue their education and apply for professional courses such as teacher training. This particular programme can enhance your professionalism and provide a basis for high quality decision-making which will benefit the learner, other practitioners and policy-makers. 

What type of career assistance is available to doctoral researchers in Education?

The College of Social Sciences, to which the School of Education belongs, has specially designated careers advisors and careers consultants who can provide guidance for doctoral researchers on career paths, CVs, training opportunities, application and interviews. The University’s central Careers’ Service also runs workshops and offers personally tailored advice and guidance including 1-1 careers advice and 1-1 CV advice. The Career’s Service runs CV writing workshops especially for postgraduates in the College of Social Sciences, giving advice on how to compile CVs for both employment and for academic roles.

The University also has dedicated careers advisors who run workshops and provide networking opportunities with potential employers. These are especially popular with international postgraduate researchers.


Admissions Tutor: Dr Nick Peim

PGR Admissions Contact: Helen Joinson

You can contact us on +44 (0) 121 414 4847