Postgraduate Research

Degrees and Courses |  Entry Requirements | Support Doctoral Profiles

pg-open-day-smallThe School of Education has national and international standing as a centre of excellence for research in education which was recognised by consistently scoring high in the Research Assessment Exercise. It was ranked 9th by HEFCE in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) with 97% of it's research recognised as being of international quality and 47% being recognised as world leading research. It always ranks highly in the annual surveys undertaken by the university to appraise the level of support .

The School provides wide and varied opportunities to undertake research programmes on a full or part-time basis that will support the growth of research skills and build on subject knowledge. If you are interested in taught postgraduate masters programmes, please view our Masters and Professional Development Programmes web page.

Before applying for a research degree, applicants are encouraged to find out more about the current research taking place in the school. You can also find out more on  individual staff profiles. You may also download a summary of staff research interests (PDF, opens new window).

Details of current doctoral research may be found on the Doctoral Researcher  profile webpages.

Priority areas

We particularly welcome research degree applications in the following areas: 

  • Philosophy of Education 
  • Sociology of Education 
  • History of Education 
  • Character and Values Education 
  • Race and Education 
  • Post-compulsory Education (including Adult, Vocational and Higher Education) 
  • Inclusive Education and Disability
  • Language Education
  • Linguistic Diversity  

Masters level research programmes  

Educational Studies MRes

The  Educational Studies MRes  is a combined programme consisting of a taught element and a research element of a dissertation of 20,000 words.

The taught element consists of a number of core modules which are taken from the research training programme.   You will then complete a 20,000 words research dissertation.  

To find out more and apply visit:

MA by Research

The MA by Research is a pure research masters course. Students will need to complete a thesis of 40,000 words maximum and a research training programme. This programme is suitable for applicants who are interested in developing their independent research skills and many students who complete this course progress onto PhD study afterwards

To find out more and apply visit:

Taught doctoral programmes

To complete a taught doctorate 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.

Modules are designated as either Research or Subject Modules. You have some choice about the balance between the two. You can either take 60 or 80 credits (i.e. 3 or 4 modules) of subject focused courses but the remainder of 180 credits has to be completed through research training. In addition to the research training modules outlined, each pathway has its own specialist research module which serves to support the development of your final research plan. There are different routes through the taught doctorate programme, developed by different subject areas. Currently, we offer three routes:

We also offer the PhD with integrated Study: Education and Learning   

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

The College of Social Sciences offers an MA Social Research , which forms the basis for all Postgraduate Researcher methods training and the  Integrated Study (Social Sciences) PhD.    

Research degree by thesis


The Education PhD requires a minimum period of study as a registered student of normally three years full-time or six years part-time. Exceptionally, the School at its discretion may in individual cases reduce at the time of admission the period of study as a registered student required of a postgraduate researchers on a full-time PhD programme by up to one academic year or its equivalent.

The PhD is by thesis only, and is examined by a work of 80,000 words maximum and an oral examination. Postgraduate researchers are required to complete the research training programme , normally in the first two years of registration. One to one supervision is provided throughout the length of the formal registration. Postgraduate researchers who are involved in similar areas may also have some group supervision.

To find out more to apply visit: .

The School of Education welcomes applications for Joint PhD programmes, particularly those with other U21 institutions. More information on the Joint PhD 

Download your own personalised Doctoral Research Prospectus  


Please view the school  Scholarships and bursaries page for details of scholarship and funding opportunities.


pdficonsmallDownload What do Birmingham Postgraduates do? (PDF, 1.28MB)

Contact Details

Helen Joinson
Postgraduate Research Administrator
Telephone: +44 (0) 121 414 4847


Staff Research Interests(PDF, 107KB )


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