PhD (Professional)

Key Information


2-4 years


3-6 years part-time

Entry Requirements

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Brayford Pool

Start Dates in October and January

Programme Overview

The PhD (Professional) Education is a doctoral research programme of equivalent standing to the traditional Doctor of Philosophy, with a focus on research and professional practice. The course is designed for current and future educators who wish to conduct original research relating to their professional context or area of educational practice, and aims to support the dissemination, development, and management of a range of professional practice and policy development.

Students undertake four core modules and one optional module, followed by a thesis stage, during which they conduct field work, analyse their data in light of existing knowledge, and write a thesis for examination.

The modular stage aims to help students refine their research topic and identify specific research questions through a critical review of literature. Optional modules offer students the opportunity to design a pilot study for their thesis research or gain research experience by assisting on a research project led by academic staff.

The thesis stage requires rigorous data collection and analysis in order to produce a 60,000-word thesis that systematically presents the research, learning, and contribution to knowledge.

Throughout the duration of the programme, students are part of a diverse, supportive, and intellectually challenging research environment in the School of Education. In addition to the programme requirements, all students are encouraged to engage in broader postgraduate training opportunities, present their work to academic audiences, and communicate the significance of their research to colleagues and peers.

Achieving the award of PhD (Professional) is recognition not only of an original contribution to knowledge, but also of the students' ability to continue to undertake pure and/or applied research and development at doctoral level.

Key Features

Optional modules which allow you to tailor your qualification

Opportunities to conduct exciting research

Supervision and support from expert academic staff

Designed for both current and future educators

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How You Study

All students are expected to attend scheduled teaching on the programme - this takes place on a weekly basis and at two weekend study schools and one three-day summer school.
Weekly online seminars are held for each module at times that are intended to be accessible to part-time students. They are supplemented by the use of interactive technologies that are used to extend the dialogues that are crucial to students' learning. An example is the use of Talis Elevate to read and discuss selected texts and multimedia.

The VLE also provides students with access to a range of structured resources, including digitised texts, recordings of lectures and various teaching materials, allowing for a significant degree of independent study and revision of topics covered. Flipped learning through the use of digital tools, directed learning and assigned tasks may also be used in and outside of the class as appropriate.

Study schools include lectures, student presentations, seminars, visiting speakers and workshops. An emphasis throughout is placed on encouraging candidates to share and discuss their own work, and to provide structured activities that build on students' research interests, and those of academic staff.

Study school attendance is not restricted to the modular stage, but candidates are encouraged to continue to attend study schools throughout their time on the programme. This is intended to provide a stronger and more supportive framework for candidates, aiding progression and retention.


Education Research: Conceptualising Your Research Problem (Core)

Initiating Research: Exploring Existing Knowledge (Core)

Research Design: Understanding Disiplinary Approaches (Core)

Research Progress Report and Defence (Core)

Thesis (Core) 

Research Experience Work Placement (Optional) 

Education Research: Planning a Pilot Study in a Professional Context (Optional)

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

A key feature of the PhD (Professional) Education is the School’s belief that students’ learning is most effective when it is the product of an on-going dialogue with others, either teaching staff or fellow students, and when they are constantly challenged to refine their understanding of key concepts in the field of education, alongside personal development of their research ideas. Emphasis is placed on creating the conditions in which such dialogues can flourish. Academic staff principally act as supervisors of the student's own research rather than teachers of others' research. In this way, roles of teacher and student are progressively minimised and both students and supervisory staff become part of a joint research project.

Students will be allocated an academic supervisor as soon as they commence the programme and will meet with them on a regular basis. This person will have a key role in providing individual support throughout the programme. Face-to-face supervision takes place at study schools, and support is offered through electronic means or by telephone in between.

Applicants are encouraged to review the research profiles of academic staff in the School of Education and where possible, align their research topics with our existing expertise. Alongside the Lincolnshire Learning Lab, we have a wide range of research areas within the School which include:

  • Educational leadership and management
  • Professional learning and professional development
  • Higher education pedagogy and practice
  • Teacher recruitment and retention
  • STEM education 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

How you are assessed

Assessment and feedback are structured to identify students' existing strengths and constructively highlights areas for further academic development. Thesis and viva examination forms the final assessment.

In addition, students should expect to participate in formative peer review of each other's ideas and work throughout the programme through active group discussion and a variety of presentation methods (e.g. annual student conference presentations, poster sessions, and 'PechaKucha' sessions).

Further details of assessment for each course, and information about how particular kinds of work are supported academically, can be found in the individual module specifications.

How to Apply

Postgraduate Research Application Support

Find out more about the research application process and what you'll need to complete on our How to Apply page. Here, you'll also be able to find out more about how to write a research proposal and how to contact us for dedicated support during the process.

How to Apply
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Entry Requirements 2024-25

Entry Requirements

First or second class honours degree or equivalent professional experience.

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 6.0 overall, with a minimum of 5.5 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.

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

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

The PhD (Professional) Education aims to enable individuals to make a significant contribution to understanding and improving professional practice in education through research. The programme is specifically designed for current and future educators, and can be understood as an advanced form of research-based professional development or training. Graduates from the programme may go on to senior positions in their existing field as well as entering academic careers.

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

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, improve lives, 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.