Postgraduate Research

Degrees and Courses |  Entry Requirements | Support Doctoral Profiles

The 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 (ranked 7th by HEFCE in the 2008 RAE) and 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 


University of Birmingham PhD Scholarship in Character and Virtue

The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues in the School of Education, University of Birmingham is delighted to announce that it has been allocated a fixed sum of money by the College of Social Sciences for a  PhD studentship in 2014-15. The funding available allows us to offer one  full PhD studentship  (fees and stipend of £13,800). This studentship is available only to a  full-time Home/EU student

The applicant must have a strong background in moral philosophy and/or moral education, and the topic of the research proposal must focus on the nature and/or development of character and virtue, and be situated within the general area of virtue ethics and/or character education. 

There may be strong competition for this studentship and only outstanding applicants have a chance of success. 

Applications must be submitted to Aidan Thompson ( ) by  28 July   2014  and must comprise (i) a full CV of the applicant, (ii) a research proposal of no more than 800 words and (iii) a supporting statement from the supervisor of no more than 500 words. Applications will be considered by a Jubilee Centre selection panel and a decision made at beginning of August. 

To be eligible for consideration, applicants must either have applied to start a PhD in the School in 2014-15, or be registered PhD students in the School in their first year of full-time study or first or second year part-time study.

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.


pdficonsmall Download What do Birmingham Postgraduates do? (PDF, 1.28MB)

Contact Details

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