MA by Research/MPhil/PhD
Educational Research and Development

Key Information


MPhil: 1.5-3 years. PhD: 2-4 years


MPhil: 2-4 years. PhD: 3-8 years

Entry Requirements

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Brayford Pool

Start Dates in October, February, and May

Programme Overview

The MPhil/PhD are research programmes aimed at those who wish to gain a postgraduate qualification by conducting supervised independent primary research in education which is written up into a thesis.

Each programme of study is run the same way, with variations in depth and originality of research between MPhil and PhD. This is reflected in the length of study and thesis: for example a part-time PhD typically takes 5-6 years to produce an 80,000 word thesis. Full-time study usually takes about half the time of part-time study.

The longer PhD is aimed at those who are, or aspire to be, senior academic or administrative leaders of primary, secondary, or tertiary educational institutions, or university lecturers and researchers.

These programmes are designed to develop the critical-thinking and research skills required for study at postgraduate level. Students have the opportunity to decide on the focus of their research and receive one-to-one support from an experienced supervisor.

At Lincoln, research students benefit from regular monthly meetings with their supervisor (monthly for full-time students, bi-monthly for part-time). In addition, students can attend regular training sessions on research methods and skills provided by the School of Education and the University's Doctoral School.

Key Features

Conduct independent, original, and academically significant research

Benefit from training courses to develop key research skills

Supervision and support from an advisory panel of academic staff

Present at talks and seminars to showcase your work

Enrol in January or October each year

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Lincolnshire Learning Lab

Lincolnshire Learning Lab has been established to help improve the learning of children, and the working environments for teachers within Lincolnshire. One of the main aims of the group is to bring academic rigour and evidence-based research into the classroom by engaging with teachers, academics, and other stakeholders in the education system, such as parents and educational consultants.

Explore the Lincolnshire Learning Lab
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Research Areas

The key to success on a postgraduate research programme is to find a research topic that you are passionate about and identify a supervisory team that has expertise in this area. The first thing that all prospective students should do is directly contact a member of staff from one of these areas that you feel is best aligned with your chosen research area to discuss the application process further. The School’s research areas include:

  • Educational leadership and management

  • Professional learning and professional development

  • Higher education pedagogy and practice

  • Teacher recruitment and retention

  • STEM education and social justice

  • Applied linguistics and education

  • Sexuality education

  • Religious education

  • LGBTQ+ inclusivity in education

  • Difficult/controversial topics in classrooms

  • Inter/multi/transdisciplinary education

  • Epistemology in education

You can also see individual academics and their research interests in their staff profiles.

How You Study

Research students can work with their supervisors to choose the focus of their research. Due to the nature of postgraduate research, the majority of time is spent in independent study and research, Students will benefit from individual supervision meetings, and the frequency of these vary depending on individual requirements, subject area, staff availability, and stage of programme.

Supervisions for students based in the UK may be undertaken in person, by e-mail, videoconferencing, or phone call. Overseas students studying in the UK on a student visa must attend monthly supervisions in person. Typically, meetings occur monthly for full-time students and bi-monthly for part-time students.

Typically, PhD students register for an MPhil and, after 12 or 24 months (depending on full-time or part-time status), are expected to transfer to the PhD programme. This transfer requires the production of a detailed research proposal, which the candidate will be expected to defend at a transfer viva.

How you are assessed

PhD students are expected to produce a thesis of 80,000 words, while MPhil students produce a thesis of 40,000 words, both supported by an oral defence.

Research Proposals

You will need to produce a research proposal as part of your application for this programme. This is a project outline identifying what you want to study, why you want to investigate this area, and how you intend to conduct the research. You will also need to identify a potential supervisor at Lincoln whose research interests align with your own, and share your proposal and ideas with them before submitting your application. You can find more details on our School staff pages.

Writing a Research Proposal

Remember that your proposal is the starting point of your research. It is normal for your ideas to evolve and develop, and for plans to change as you engage more deeply with the literature and begin working with your supervision team.

Length of Proposal

Your proposal should be around 1,500 to 2,000 words (and no more than 2,500 words).

Structuring Your Research Proposal

There isn’t a prescribed format for the structure of a research proposal but the following section headings are generally considered to be important:

Working Title

A clear and succinct description of your research should be encapsulated in the title. Although this may not be the title of your final thesis, your proposal title should give a clear indication of the area you are interested in exploring.


The introduction should set the context, explaining what you will research, why it is of value, and how you propose to conduct your research. The introduction is your opportunity to demonstrate that your proposed research can make a significant contribution to existing bodies of literature, detailing how your research will fill a gap or develop/complete findings from previous research. Overall, you will be expected to show that you have a good knowledge of the wider context in which your research belongs and that you have awareness of methodologies, theories, and conflicting evidence in your chosen field.

Overview of Your Research

You should provide a short overview of your research and where it fits in existing academic discourses, debates, or literature. This should also cover your research objectives, why the research is needed, and what original contribution it can make. Make sure your overview is intelligible to someone who is not a specialist in this field

Literature Review

You won’t have had chance to review all the relevant literature at this stage, but you should be able to incorporate the major debates and issues, demonstrating that you understand your chosen field. Show how your research is original and how it will address the gaps in current knowledge. The conclusion of the review should include a statement of your research problem or question.


Your methodology section should detail how you will conduct your research and consider the following:

  • Methods of data collection and analysis
  • How you will access and recruit participants (if relevant)
  • Number of participants to be included (if relevant)
  • Ethical implications of your work
  • Any potential problems and challenges with your proposed methods and how these might be overcome.


You should provide a clear plan of how you will carry out the research from start to finish, breaking it down into the main components of the research project and identifying what you expect to do in each year of your studies.

Top Tips for a Good Research Proposal

  • Have a clearly stated research idea, question, or problem and be persuasive.
  • Demonstrate how it is addressing a gap in the current knowledge and research.
  • Develop a well-structured proposal (poorly formed or rambling proposals may raise concerns that the thesis could be the same).
  • Be reasonable and realistic in terms of scope.
  • Show passion for the topic.
  • Refine and edit your proposal before it is submitted.
  • Make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors.
  • Leave the reader interested, excited, and wanting to know more.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of research methods and research approaches and be clear that these are appropriate for your research question(s).
  • Refrain from using discipline-specific jargon unless it is absolutely necessary to communicating your idea effectively.

How to Apply

Postgraduate Research Application Support

Find out more about the application process for research degrees and what you'll need to complete on our How to Apply page, which also features contact details for dedicated support with your application.

How to Apply
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Entry Requirements 2024-25

Entry Requirements

Minimum of an upper Second Class honours degree, or alternatively a Second Class honours degree and a Master's degree in a relevant subject.

In addition to the stated qualifications required, applicants are required to submit a research proposal with their application. For guidance on writing a research proposal, please visit:

For information about potential PhD supervisors in the School of Education, please visit:

If you have studied outside of the UK, and are unsure whether your qualification meets the above requirements, please visit our country pages: for information on equivalent qualifications.

Overseas students will be required to demonstrate English language proficiency equivalent to IELTS 6.5 overall, with a minimum of 6.0 in each element. For information regarding other English language qualifications we accept, please visit the English Requirements page

If you do not meet the above IELTS requirements, you may be able to take part in one of our Pre-session English and Academic Study Skills courses. These specialist courses are designed to help students meet the English language requirements for their intended programme of study.


Applicants will be selected for interview on the basis of their application and research proposal.

Programme Fees

You will need to have funding in place for your studies before you arrive at the University. Our fees vary depending on the course, mode of study, and whether you are a UK or international student. You can view the breakdown of fees for this programme below. Research students may be required to pay additional fees in addition to cover the cost of specialist resources, equipment and access to any specialist collections that may be required to support their research project. These will be informed by your research proposal and will be calculated on an individual basis.

Programme Fees

Funding Your Research

Loans and Studentships

Find out more about the optional available to support your postgraduate research, from Master's and Doctoral Loans, to research studentship opportunities. You can also find out more about how to pay your fees and access support from our helpful advisors.

Explore Funding Options
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Career Development

A doctoral qualification can be the capstone of academic achievement and often marks the beginning of a career in academia or research. A research programme provides the opportunity to become a true expert in your chosen field, while developing a range of valuable transferable skills that can support your career progression. A research-based degree is also the most direct pathway to an academic career. PhDs and research degrees are a great chance to expand your network and meet diverse people with similar interests, knowledge, and passion.

The University’s Doctoral School provides a focal point for Lincoln’s community of researchers, where ideas and experiences can be developed and shared across disciplines. It also offers support and training to help equip you for both academic and non-academic careers.

Doctoral School

Academic Contact

For more information about this course, please contact:

Dr Joss Winn

Research at Lincoln

Through our research, we are striving to change society for the better. Working with regional, national, and international partners, our academics are engaged in groundbreaking studies that are challenging the status quo. We also understand the importance of providing the best possible environment for pursuing research that can support our communities and make a tangible difference to the world around us.

Explore Our Research
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The University intends to provide its courses as outlined in these pages, although the University may make changes in accordance with the Student Admissions Terms and Conditions.