Plymouth Institute of Education

PhD Education

This full time or part time doctoral programme is suitable for people who have a particular research question or topic in mind, and wish to explore this through independent study in order to produce an original contribution to the subject. If you aspire to a research career (in academia, government or business) this is the most appropriate research degree to undertake.

Key features

  • Opportunity to join an active research network in the Institute of Education
  • Designed to be flexible with both full time and part time modes of study available
  • Comprehensive support from a team of dedicated supervisors
  • Access to a wide range of courses focussed on the development of research skills and knowledge through the Doctoral College

Entry requirements

To gain entry to the programme participants will usually need, or be about to gain, a masters degree or a first or upper second class honours degree in a relevant subject. Other professional qualifications recognised as the equivalent to a degree and experience which demonstrates that the applicant can meet the challenges and demands of the programme are also considered.

Overseas students will need to demonstrate their English Language Proficiency and have an overall score of at least 6.5 on IELTS (with no individual score lower than 6.0) or equivalent.

Fees, costs and funding

New Student 2017 2018
Home/EU To be confirmed To be confirmed
International To be confirmed To be confirmed
Part time (Home/EU) To be confirmed To be confirmed
Part time (International) To be confirmed To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of credits. Fees are correct at the time of publication and may be subject to change.

How to apply

All applications for doctoral study in Plymouth Institute of Education are processed via our Doctoral College. To make a formal application the applicant needs to complete our postgraduate application form which can be found here:    

With your application form you need to include two academic references, evidence of a minimum IELTS score of 6.5, if English is not your first language, and a research proposal.

Submitted research proposals should address the following questions:

  • What is the topic of your research,
  • What research question(s) will you aim to address,
  • What are your reasons for undertaking this research,
  • A review of relevant research literature in the field,
  • What data will you need to collect to carry out your research (do you already have access to your data source),
  • What are your proposed research method(s) and/or plans to conduct your research?
Your proposal must include a reference list and should not replicate work that you have already undertaken at masters or other level (although it can build on this work).

Learning outcomes

Applicants will normally be expected to reside in the UK for the majority of the academic year to enable regular face-to-face contact with tutors, except for periods of fieldwork overseas.

PhD students are allocated a team of at least two research supervisors who have expertise in your chosen area of study. You will be expected to attend regular supervision meetings and to conduct an annual training needs analysis with your supervisors. This identifies which training event, or research seminars, it would be appropriate for you to attend as part of your research training and professional development as a career researcher

Welcome from the PhD Programme Leader – Professor Garry Hornby

Educational research at Plymouth University is rich and varied. Underpinning all of our research is a commitment to seek to transform education experiences and outcomes for both learners and teachers.

At Plymouth we offer opportunities to engage in research that is relevant to current educational issues, both nationally and internationally; interdisciplinary; linked to strong local, national and international networks and partnerships; and supported by committed, expert supervisors who are keen to work with the next generation of education researchers.

I hope the information provided here will help you make an informed decision about whether you would like to join our research community.

If you have questions or would like further information, please contact me.

“Studying for my PhD in Education with Plymouth University has given me the opportunity to meet some amazing individuals. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet other like-minded people working on their own PhDs who were happy to advise and compare notes. I’ve had expert supervision and support whilst I’ve been studying and have had the chance to learn some useful transferable skills through the Doctoral College.”

Ciaran O’Sullivan
PhD in Education

Doctoral supervisors

Potential research topics

The Institute of Education has five research groupings:

  • Leadership and Policy – led by Professor Megan Crawford
  • Learning Outside Formal Education – led by Professor Jocey Quinn
  • Professional Theory and Practice – led by Professor Linda la Velle
  • Voice Inclusion and Participation – led by Dr Joanna Haynes
  • Evidence Based Practice – led by Professor Garry Hornby
Research across these groups focuses on a wide range of topics, including:
  • Issues in leadership, management and policy in education;
  • A range of different learners: from children through to adults;
  • Learning in different contexts, places and spaces: from schools and universities through to online and outdoor education;
  • Enhancing the way that we teach and learn about core curricula subjects such as science, mathematics and technology;
  • The impact and influence of education: issues of transition, innovation and social justice;
  • The effectiveness of strategies and interventions in the field of education