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Durham University

School of Education

Doctor of Philosophy in Education

A PhD can be a major step in either launching your career or in reaching your employment aspirations. The Durham University School of Education PhD programme, consisting of both training and supervised research, is perfect for those graduates who aspire to an academic career in educational research teaching in higher education institutions or to positions of professional leadership and responsibility in the field of educaiton.

Even though all PhD topics are different, all students will research a subject in great depth, acquire advanced skills in practical and intellectual problem-solving and critical analysis of theories and evidence, and contribute to an extensive piece of original work (a dissertation of up to 100,000 words) to the field of education.

Your research topic could relate to any aspect of the theory, policy or practice of education and may be drawn from any phase of education, including early years and post-compulsory education. As all doctoral students agree their topics with their supervisory team, the topic you choose must align with the research interests of a potential supervisor at the time of application.

While most of our PhD candidates study full-time, we also accept part-time applicants. Completion of the PhD usually takes three years for full-time study and six years for part-time study. As the staff research areas suggest, we can offer supervision in a broad range of areas. What's more, we welcome applications from varied disciplinary backgrounds, not just from those students possessing qualifications in education-related subjects.

We are looking for exceptional candidates who learn quickly, have the potential to contribute to the School of Education's vibrant research culture, and will go on to accomplish remarkable things in their careers. You will need to have a clear idea of what you would like to research and why, as well as an awareness of recent research in that particular field.

Applicants will normally be expected to hold a Master's degree or equivalent and should be able to demonstrate proficiency in research methods. The latter is most usually demonstrated by the successful completion of a taught Master's degree that includes substantial research methods training. If you do not possess such a degree, you may be interested in registering for our MA in Research Methods (Education) programme, from which you may be able to progress to PhD study.

Exemption from the research training requirements may be granted only on the grounds of very clear evidence that a candidate has completed comparable research training elsewhere or has engaged in extensive, wide-ranging and high quality education research activity, usually reflected in a record of publication.

If English is not your first language, you will need to be able to demonstrate satisfactory English proficiency before the start of your programme of study, by taking an English Language Proficiency Test. The British Council Internal English Language Testing System (IELTS) is our preferred test and can be taken in most countries.

IELTS: an overall score of at least 7.0 with no element under 6.5

If you have already completed a degree programme where English was the language of instruction, it may be possible to use this as evidence of your English language proficiency, in lieu of a language test.

If you have not taken one of the above tests, you should arrange to do so without delay. If your language proficiency falls below the standards stated above, an offer may still be made, but it will be conditional upon you completing an intensive English course and being able to demonstrate that you have reached a level of English appropriate to your course, e.g. IELTS or a satisfactory written report from the University's Language Centre. The University's English Language Centre runs pre-sessional courses, for which application forms are available directly from the English Language Centre.

Note: Attending pre-sessional courses does not guarantee automatic entry.

Candidates wishing to apply for a PhD degree are required to submit a research proposal in addition to the online application.

Please do not hesitate to contact us:


Direct Line: 0191 334 8313

Int'l: +44 191 334 8313