Education PhD

The School of Education has a national and international reputation as a centre of excellence and provides wide and varied opportunities for students to undertake full or part-time research.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.

The university also has a Doctoral Training Centre (DTC)which has been accredited by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Course fact file

Duration: PhD – 3 years full-time, 6 years part-time

Start date: Contact the School directly


Director of Postgraduate Research: Professor Michael Hand 

PGR Admissions Contact: Helen Joinson

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


Graduate Adrian Jarvis talks about his experience studying for a PhD in the School of Education

We have a national and international reputation as a centre of excellence and provide wide and varied opportunities for students to undertake research. Our academic expertise covers a broad range of disciplines which are grouped into three main departments:

The school also has a number of highly successful research centres based within the departments which reflect the diversity of our research activity.

Our strategy towards research and research degrees is centred on three key principles:

  • Research should seek to combine scholarly and empirical work on fundamental issues with a concern for development work linked to practice; a dialogue between fundamental study and development work can enrich both
  • Research should recognise the importance of professional practice and be pursued through active collaboration with schools, colleges, local authorities, and voluntary and other professional bodies in the UK and internationally
  • Research is often a multidisciplinary activity and strong links across specialisms must be encouraged and supported

The interdependence of research with development and professional practice means that we particularly welcome the contribution of research students to our work. We provide a comprehensive programme of research training, together with opportunities to take part in research seminars where speakers with national and international reputations present work that is at the forefront of current debates within the field.

The Education PhD

A PhD requires a minimum period of study as a registered student of normally three years full-time or six years part-time. It is assessed by thesis only, and is examined by a work of a maximum of 80,000 words and an oral examination. You will be required to complete a research training programme, normally within the first two years of registration.

Whilst we accept applications covering all aspects of educational research, we particularly welcome applications for our current priority areas.

Please visit our school postgraduate research pagesto find out more about all our postgraduate research degrees, including our taught doctoral programmes. You will also be able to find out more about the support we can offer you whilst you are undertaking your research. You will also be able to view the profiles of some of our current doctoral researchers to find out more about their research topics.

We also encourage you to visit the school research pagesto find out more about our current research.

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply
Learn more about fees and funding

Scholarships and studentships

Visit our school scholarship page to find out about more funding.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government. 

For further information please view the school scholarships page or contact the Student Funding Office via online enquiries. 

Entry requirements

When you apply, the application system will ask you to upload a research proposal for submission together with your application. Your research proposal should meet these research proposal requirements.

Learn more about entry requirements

International students
We accept a range of qualifications from different countries – learn more about international entry requirements 

Standard English language requirements apply – except for the Warwick University English Language Test – we require ABB

How to apply

When applying for a PhD programme you will be required to submit a detailed proposal, which outlines the nature of your proposed study. This proposal will not be held as a final contract and may change in negotiation with your supervisor. However, it is an indication that you have the background ideas and knowledge to begin independent research in the broad area of your interest. It also enables us to send your application to appropriate members of staff for consideration.

The proposal should include the following information:

  • The aims or objectives, and research questions if possible
  • The justification for the study or area
  • An outline of the research design (approach, population, methods, time scale)
  • An indication of related literature
  • Any previous work you have done in the area
  • Any facilities available to you for the research or access to the research site, and research subjects
  • The amount of time per week you are able to devote to the study.

Learn more about applying


Director of Postgraduate Research: Professor Michael Hand 

PGR Admissions Contact: Helen Joinson

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

Learning and teaching

As a postgraduate researcher you will have one-to-one supervision with a lead supervisor and also a second supervisor or academic advisor. Your supervisor is the key person in providing support and guidance in your research. Students who are involved in similar areas may also have some group supervision.

You will have 24 hour access to work space in our research suite, where there are computer and telephone facilities. You also have access to the University's libraries and computer facilities, including our dedicated education library as well as other entitlements such as grants towards conference attendance, printing and photocopying. Many of our postgraduate researchers work with supervisors in publishing articles and making their work public. Students will register with the School of Education but are also automatically members of the Graduate School, with access to facilities such as the Graduate Social Centre and the opportunity to meet with other researchers from a wide range of academic disciplines. As a doctoral student, you will also be able to join the College of Social Sciences Doctoral Training programme which has ESRC recogition.

Research interests of staff

Perhaps the most important step in the formulation of your research project is to identify a member of academic staff with appropriate expertise to supervise your area of interest. Your supervisor will act as the main source of academic supervisory support and research mentoring during your time as a doctoral researcher at the University and as such, it is vital that you ensure that the department to which you are applying is able to offer appropriate supervisory support in your relevant research area. Before submitting your application to the University you will need to identify potential supervisors in your desired field of research and contact them directly about your research proposal.

Applicants are encouraged to view the research activity within each department in the school as well as on the individual staff profiles. You may also download a summary of staff research interests (PDF, opens new window).


Director of Postgraduate Research: Professor Michael Hand 

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. Some of our graduates are attracted to careers in education such as teaching, community and youth work or other public sector occupations such as social work, police, housing and probation. New opportunities in partnership enterprises within sport, leisure, education and community schemes appeal. Some graduates also consider work in the private sector such as retail, finance or marketing.

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.


Director of Postgraduate Research: Professor Michael Hand 

PGR Admissions Contact: Helen Joinson

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