Education PhD

Start date
Any time, though September is advised
PhD – 3 years full-time, 6 years part-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Doctoral research

For 2024-2025
£4,778 full time (UK) 
£2,389 part time (UK)
£21,360 full time (International)
£10,680 part time (International)

More Fees and funding details.

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.

The School of Education has a national and international standing as a centre of excellence for research in education which is recognised by consistently scoring high in the national assessment of the research (REF) which takes place across all UK universities approximately every 6 years. The results of the latest 2021 Research Excellent Framework (REF) show that the School of Education is ranked 3rd in the UK for its research. 

The original Department of Education was founded in 1896 and became the School of Education in 1947. It is one of the largest research-led schools of education in the UK employing over 100 academic staff who teach more than 2,500 students. It is also home to a number of departments and research centres. The university also has a Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) which has been accredited by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). 

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.

Please visit our school postgraduate research pages to 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 pages to find out more about our current research.


Scholarships may be available.

I decided to apply for postgraduate study because I wanted to become a researcher and this job requires a postgraduate qualification. The UK maintains its leading status in educational research, and applying to the University of Birmingham, one of the leading research-intensive universities in the UK, was an obvious choice for me.

Kristina Gruzdeva, PhD Education


Fees 2024 - 2025


  • Code 2606 - £4,778 full-time
  • Code 2607 - £2,389 part-time


  • Code 2606 - £21,360 full-time
  • Code 2607 - £10,680 part-time

The fees shown above are the annual fees for students starting their PhD in September in 2024. Please note that the annual fees for subsequent years on the course may increase due to inflation. 

Learn more about fees

Scholarships and Loans

Please visit our dedicated Postgraduate funding database for further information on scholarships you may be eligible to apply for or contact the Funding, Graduation & Awards Office via online enquiries. 

Eligible Doctoral students can now apply for a government loan of up to £28,673 (for 2023/2024 entry) to contribute to overall costs. 

How To Apply

PhD applications will normally need to be received by June 2024 for a September start.

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.

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate research programme, you will need to submit your application and supporting documents online. We have put together some helpful information on the research programme application process and supporting documents on our how to apply page. Please read this information carefully before completing your application.

Apply now

Our Standard Requirements

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

We require an IELTS 7 or other equivalent English language qualification with no less than 6.5 in any band.

Learn more about entry requirements


International Requirements

In addition to our standard academic and English language requirements, applications to study a PhD in Education are judged on the quality of the research proposal submitted and we advise you to carefully read the information outlined below before applying. 

Your Research Proposal

Your research proposal should illustrate your ability to plan an independent research study in Education and the relevance of your topic to the research interests and expertise of staff in the School of Education. You need to demonstrate that you understand the field that you plan to research, identify an interesting and original research question, develop a tentative plan of study and connect your work with our research in the School. It is critical that your research proposal is written to the guidelines specified below.

Guidelines for the Research Proposal

You are free to write your Research Proposal in a format that suits you, however it should be no more than 2,500 words, excluding references.

However, please be sure that your Research Proposal includes the following minimum information. 

  • Provide a title for your proposed research
  • Identify the Department or Research Centre you wish to join and select two or three potential supervisors you would like to work with.
  • Provide an overview of your research question, explaining why it is of academic and/or practical importance.
  • Discuss the importance of previous related research and how your own research question might make a useful contribution to the area.
  • State the main research techniques and data collection procedures you propose to answer the research question you have proposed. Justify why these are appropriate.
  • Explain how you will collect data for your study. Justify why your strategy is a good one and explain how you can successfully collect the data you need in the timeframe.
  • Outline your proposed timetable of activities.

Common mistakes made in a research proposal

  • The research topic is too general. Your research proposal needs to state clearly what you plan to research, why and how.
  • The proposal is not well-informed, theoretically. Your proposal may identify a real-world educational issue or problem, but it does not demonstrate its theoretical importance to the study of education. Your proposal must identify the theoretical insight your research will bring to our discipline. What will be the significance of your work? Why is your research question original and interesting?
  • The research proposal does not fit with our academic expertise. 

The stages of a PhD application

  1. Develop your research proposal
  2. Ensure that your proposal matches our research expertise in the School of Education
  3. Identify a potential supervisor and department; list these clearly on your application form, in your personal statement and in your research proposal
  4. Make informal contact with your potential supervisor via email and discuss your proposed research with them if you wish
  5. Finalize all of the supporting material for your application (including a 2 – 3 page CV, a personal statement, academic references, copies of academic transcripts/degrees, evidence of a successfully completed English Language Test if applicable)
  6. Submit your application online

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.

Whilst we accept applications covering all aspects of educational research, we particularly welcome applications for our current priority areas. Applicants are encouraged to view the research activity within each department in the school as well as on individual staff profiles. 

Individual staff research interests

Professor Julie Allan
Disability and children’s rights, educational theory.

Professor Kalwant Bhopal
Race, racism, gender, class, intersectionality, educational inequalities, schools and higher education, qualitative research, case study research, ethnography, Gypsy and Traveller groups, social justice, equity.

Dr Helen Breadmore
Reading, spelling and writing. Causes and consequences of low literacy. Morphological awareness and processing. Evidence-based practice in literacy education. Randomised controlled trials.

Dr Laura Day Ashley
Non-state education, Education in India, The history of schooling, Cross-cultural education, Alternatives to education and progressive education, Qualitative approaches, Ethnography, Case Studies, Anthropological approaches, education and marketisation / privatisation / the private sector; NGOs and education (especially developing countries).

Dr Laura D'Olimpio
Moral education; Moral philosophy and applied ethics; Aesthetics; particularly aesthetics and ethics; Philosophy in schools; Media, mass art, technology and digital literacy; Philosophy of film and literature; Virtue ethics and character education; Public philosophy.

Professor Graeme Douglas
Visual impairment; Educational outcomes and SEN; Transitions from school; Curriculum balance; WHO ICF model of disability; The views of disabled people; Technology and SEN / disability.

Dr Reza Gholami
Impact of transnationality and diversity on education practice and policy; Citizenship education, subjectivity and social change in the contemporary/future world; Educational responses to extremism and counterextremism.

Dr Celia Greenway
Early Years workforce reform; Early Years practitioners professional identity; Gender issues connected to the recruitment of males into Early Years; Leadership and Management within the nursery sector; Creative Curriculum with reference to young children’s social and emotional development; Outdoor learning and Forest schools.

Dr Karen Guldberg
Technology Enhanced Learning for children with autism; social learning theory and inter subjectivity theory; Evidence Based Practice in Education; participatory methodologies

Mr Neil Hall
Assessment and intervention in child and adolescent mental health; understanding how family mental health and trauma affects children’s learning and well-being, behaviour and development; teachers’ models of child and adolescent mental health.

Dr Sarah Hall
Holocaust and genocide education within a school context, and post-holocaust theology in the classroom; Literary theory and re-reading narrative within Biblical texts especially through a feminist lens; RSE (Relationship and Sex Education): policy and school context; PSHE (Personal, Social, Health Education): policy and school context including work on RSE and Mental Health; Secondary School based subject mentors as ‘HEI teachers’ through their work with students undertaking professional courses; Tutoring and managing ‘the tutor’ in a HEI context.

Professor Michael Hand
Philosophy of education; moral education; religious education; political education; teaching controversial issues; philosophy in schools.

Dr Tom Harrison
Character, virtue, citizenship, cyber-phronesis, youth social action.

Dr Julie Howe
Professional practice in educational psychology services; social constructionism with a particular interest in gender; anti-oppressive practice in educational psychology; the educational implications of acquired brain injury.

Dr Dina Kiwan
Citizenship, civil society, activism, conflict, human rights, ethnic and religious diversity, disability, gender, sexuality, migration, refugees, intersectionality.

Dr Ben Kotzee
Philosophy of education; virtue theory; ethics in education; professional education.

Professor Kristján Kristjánsson
Moral education, virtue ethics, well-being, educational values, teacher/student emotions and self-concepts.

Dr Andrea MacLeod
Adults with autism spectrum conditions; models of support; self-advocacy; higher education students with autism; participatory methodologies.

Dr Eleni Mariou
Multilingualism in educational and social contexts; Language ideology and discourse; Cultural and political implications of English as an International Language; Language education.

Professor Jane Martin
Biography, history and education, Comprehensive education, Gender and education, Education and politics, Education and social movements, Identities and social action, Teacher unions.

Dr Ian McGimpsey
Youth Work.

Dr Kevin Myers
History of education; history and heritage; social history of childhood and youth.

Dr Jawiria Naseem
Dynamics of Higher Education and the labour market in France and Britain; Socio-economic inequalities among (female) graduates; Citizenship and belonging among second generation and Muslim minority ethnic groups.

Dr Prithvi Perepa
Most topics related to autism, specifically Intersectionality of autism with different factors such as culture or ethnicity, bilingualism, gender and sexual orientation, and religion; educational support; family experiences and family support.

Dr Siân Roberts
Twentieth century educational interventions with children and refugees in contexts of war or displacement; pedagogic contributions by refugee educationalists who arrived in the UK , 1914-1950; transnational interventions by British Quaker women in education, social justice and humanitarian aid, 1914-1950; visual representations of children by humanitarian and political activists; the history of educational broadcasting.

Dr Nicola Smith
Children and families with EAL; children as researchers and parental involvement in early years education.

Dr Anita Soni
Early years; Children's Centres; personal social and emotional development in young children; key person approach; supervision and group supervision.

Dr Tonie Stolberg
Science education, Sustainable development education, Science and the creative arts, The teaching of and learning about controversial issues Religion and science, The impact of faith on teaching and learning, Cultural influences on education, Pedagogy, Values and education, Philosophy of education, Phenomenological education.

Dr Emmanouela Terlektsi
Education of deaf and hearing impaired children, Literacy skills of deaf children and young people, socioemotional development of deaf children and young people.

Dr Ruth Wareham
Philosophy of education, religious education and schooling, moral education, relationships and sex education, political education, citizenship education, human rights education, education policy.

Dr Kirsty Wilson
Mathematics education; algebraic thinking; pedagogy and teachers' practices, including use of technology; primary and early years mathematics; primary teacher education.

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, 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. Although students will register with the School of Education, they 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 recognition.

The School of Education also runs an annual Doctoral Research Conference which is which brings together doctoral researchers, academics and practitioners to explore key issues and developments in educational research, theory, policy and practice. The conference, which is organised and run by the doctoral researchers, includes a keynote presentation, an expert panel debate, papers in parallel sessions and a poster exhibition.

Over the last five years, an impressive 95.8% 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. 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.