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PhD Doctoral Programme in
Educational Research: Higher Education

Programme Director: Malcolm Tight
Programme Administrator: Alison Sedgwick
Tel: +44 (0) 1524 592685

This part-time structured PhD programme, over 4 - 5 years is a well established and successful route to a professional doctorate. It is aimed at academics, academic managers, educational developers, and others working within higher and further education. The programme is structured, supported and assessed through modules which involve directed study and residential teaching. Students focus on their final research thesis from the third year onwards.

It is designed to offer an experience of undertaking and completing a PhD that capitalises on eight important characteristics:

  • You study within a cohort of fellow participants who act as critical friends and an informal support network during the programme and a continued network throughout your career;
  • You are supported at a distance but also at residentials which enable participants to meet and socialise , engage in one to one tutorials and participate in seminars and lectures;
  • This support is provided by a world leading group of researchers/practitioners which gives you structured access to the culture of contemporary research;
  • Participants regularly publish papers as a core activity within the first two years of the programme, as well as publications that build on a thesis;
  • The programme incorporates ongoing research training which supports your work on your assignments and thesis.
  • You gain a PhD, rather than an EdD, from completing the programme;
  • You benefit from a dedicated team within our postgraduate office;
  • Alumni of the programme have gone on to occupy influential positions in the community of higher education researchers, managers, practitioners and policy makers;

This is one of two doctoral programmes taught by researchers from here@lancaster.  There are two major differences between these two programmes.  Firstly, the programme described on this page requires attendance four times a year in the first two years at week-long residentials.  Secondly, although the content of the two programmes is broadly similar, this programme has a module on the links between work and learning whilst the wholly online doctoral programme replaces this module with one on Evaluative Practice with a focus on Higher Education.

The programme's design depends heavily upon building a mutually supportive spirit among a group of people with overlapping professional and academic interests. Our current participants tell us that this is one of the most successful and valuable elements of the programme.

Although much of the programme is done at a distance it is not a distance learning programme and attendance at the residentials is mandatory.


The aim of the programme is to provide an opportunity for experienced professionals to become autonomous researchers and to gain deeper and more critical insight into their own and others' professional practices and concerns.

The main objectives are to enable the programme participant to:

  • acquire competency as an autonomous researcher, able to plan and carry out research, and use and disseminate its outcomes and implications
  • make an original contribution to knowledge through their own research
  • understand the nature, origins and uses of theory and of theoretical frameworks
  • analyse their working situation with the help of insights from theory, empirical research and practitioner-generated knowledge
  • evaluate and apply the research of others to issues emerging in their working situation
  • understand academic research as a form of professional practice, complementary to and in conversation with other communities of practice
  • demonstrate intellectual leadership by developmental, managerial or dissemination activity across communities of practice


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