PhD in E-Research and Technology Enhanced Learning

This structured part-time Doctoral Programme in E-Research and Technology Enhanced Learning leads to a PhD.

The programme combines a limited number of face-to-face residential meetings with carefully designed 'online' learning activities and peer collaboration. It is available to anyone in the world wishing to develop their e-learning research and technology enhanced learning (TEL) research practice.

We are currently reviewing this programme to take into account student and tutor feedback, as well as new research in the field. We anticipate making some changes to the curriculum and structure of the programme for cohorts starting in January 2024 and beyond.

Key information


  • Overview

    This PhD doctoral progamme is designed specifically for professionals, for people who wish to study to an advanced level and carry out a piece of research of the highest possible standard in an aspect of their professional practice.

    The PhD in E-Research and Technology Enhanced Learning builds on the expertise of the members of the Centre for Technology Enhanced Learning in the Department of Educational Research and their long experience in running Masters Degrees in advanced learning technologies and networked e-learning. You can find out more about the programme by downloading the TEl Programme Enquiry Handbook (2022).

    ‌‌Note: We are currently reviewing this programme to take into account student and tutor feedback, as well as new research perspectives in the field. We anticipate making some changes to the curriculum and structure of the programme for cohorts starting in January 2024 and beyond.

    Applications received for January 2024 will be held until the programme amendments have been finalised; we will then contact you to provide details of the planned changes and to check that you still wish us to consider your application. Applications will then be considered and offers made to suitable applicants. We would hope to have made all offers by the end of May 2023.

    Current programme details will hold throughout the programme for applications received and accepted for January 2022 and January 2023 entry.

  • Who is this programme for?

    This PhD doctoral programme is designed specifically for people who wish to study to an advanced level and carry out a piece of research of the highest possible standard in an aspect of their professional practice.

    Students taking this programme are highly motivated, self-managing individuals who work in positions of influence in any sector of education.

    This programme is suitable for senior managers, policy makers and experienced professionals in all areas of education, consultants and self-employed persons, and those in public and private sector organisations wishing to develop their understanding of the research and practice of technology enhanced learning. Learning technology professionals, educational developers and those with a strong interest in developing distance or blended learning in their courses are likely to be interested. The programme is aimed at those who are looking for a course of relevance to their current responsibilities and who wish to gain a doctorate. The focus of the programme is on technology enhanced learning in educational settings and sectors.

    By studying in this programme you will benefit from:

    • a two-year structured set of modules which will introduce you to major research and practice themes in technology enhanced learning. Your learning will be paced according to the modules and you will have the opportunity of submitting course work and receiving detailed comment on it from tutors and other course participants;
    • being a member of an online learning community from where you will receive the support of participant and tutor members.

    The research component provides the means for carrying out research into your practice at a personal or institutional level.

    Details about some of our Alumni can be found on the Centre for Technology Enhanced Learning People webpages.

  • What is Technology Enhanced Learning?

    The term 'technology enhanced learning' encompasses all uses of information and communications technologies in learning and teaching. It is also sometimes referred to as 'e-learning', 'online learning' and 'advanced learning technology'.

    Our programme aligns with a particular aspect of technology enhanced learning, which is 'networked learning' in which there is promotion of connections between learners, one-to-one, or one-to-many; connections between learners and teachers; and connections between members of groups and communities and the social networking that takes place on the Internet. This view of technology enhanced learning as 'networked learning' puts an emphasis on the 'human' aspects of technology in learning, and highlights the need to consider the educational and training values that underpin the use of technology. It questions a simple view of technological determinism and understands technology and learning as each shaping the other.

  • What is e-Research?

    The term 'e-Research' indicates an emerging field in which advanced technologies are applied to existing research methods and approaches. This Programme will examine some of the trends in this new field and will lead participants in the use of accessible technologies for carrying out research into technology enhanced learning.

    The term e-Research encapsulates research activities that use a spectrum of advanced ICT capabilities and embraces new research methodologies emerging from increasing access to:

    • Broadband and mobile communications networks, research instruments and facilities, sensor networks and data repositories;
    • Software and infrastructure services that enable secure connectivity and interoperability;
    • Application tools, that encompass discipline-specific tools and interaction tools.

    E-Research capabilities serve to advance and augment, rather than replace traditional research methodologies, but there is a growing dependence on e-Research capabilities. Improved access to knowledge and information will enable researchers to perform their research more creatively, efficiently and collaboratively across long distances and disseminate their research outcomes. Using e-Research, researchers can work seamlessly from desk-to-desk within and between organisations.

  • Residentials

    There will be two four-day residential meetings in Part One of the programme. These meetings are compulsory and are designed to allow us to get to know each other and form a learning community, and for us to introduce you to wider thinking about e-Research and TEL research, the upcoming programme and moudles, the virtual learning platform and associated technologies.

    Cohort 14

    The first year residential dates for our 2021 intake are 22nd - 25th March, 2021
    The second year residential dates for our 2021 intake are 29th March - 1st April 2022

    Cohort 15

    The first year residential dates for our 2022 intake are 28th - 31st March 2022
    The second year residential dates for our 2022 intake are 28th - 31st March 2023

    Cohort 16

    The first year residential dates for our 2023 intake are 27th - 30th March 2023
    The second year residential dates for our 2022 intake are still to be confirmed

    Further information about timetables, accommodation, travel and visas is available on our Residentials web page.

How to Apply

The next start date is January 2022 (CH15).

For admission to this programme applicants should normally have:

  • a good honours degree from a British university or CNAA, and a good taught Master's degree; or
  • qualifications of a comparable standard from a university or recognised degree awarding body in another country.

Preference will be given to applicants who have degrees in cognate areas (normally social science).

Language proficiency

Applicants will need to have an acceptable fluency in written and spoken English.

For students whose first language is not English, an English Language Test Certificate will be required, that is, IELTS Academic with an overall score of 6.5 with at least 6.0 for reading and writing.

Further information can be found at: English Language Requirements.

Please apply using the online system

The next start date is 1st January, 2022.

Typical Cohort Number: 30

As this is a PhD by coursework and thesis we do not require a research proposal at this stage, but you should explain why you wish to join the programme and how you hope to benefit from it.

Paper application forms can be obtained from:

Postgraduate Admissions
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University

Telephone: +44 (0)1524 510880
Fax: +44 (0)1524 510857

Fees and funding

The fee for each cohort is set annually by the University and represents the part-time fee for that academic year. Once a student is on the programme the fee will be increased in line with inflation for each subsequent year of the course.

The course fee for:

  • 21/22 is £4,550 per academic year, for four years minimum, for UK students and £8,140 per academic year, for four years minimum, for international students.

Fees are subject to a small increase each academic year.

To help finance your postgraduate study at Lancaster, you can apply for funding from charities and other funders: further details are available on the Fees and Funding webpage.

Applicants from the European Union can read more information about Research Fees (from Lancaster University) following the 2016 Referendum.

When you apply you will need to indicate your likely source of funding for your fees. If you are not self-funding you should investigate possible sources of finance as soon as you can for the full period of your study. Many students have been supported by their employing institutions.

Find out what our graduates say about studying on our PhD programmes

Several students have published journal articles arising from their module asssignments and theses.

Structure and modules

The programme is divided into two parts and has a modular structure. All modules are compulsory and they are assessed along with the thesis proposal and the final thesis.

  • Part One (years 1 and 2) consists of five modules that offer participants guided study in key areas of Technology Enhanced Learning research.
  • Part Two (years 3 and 4minimum) - participants carry out an original piece of research under the supervision of a member of staff and produce a thesis (50,000 words).

Online and Distance learning

The Educational Research Department has considerable experience of supporting online and distance learners and we aim to make all our students feel that they are full members of the Department and part of the postgraduate community. Wherever possible we facilitate online participation at events and seminars organised by the Department.

All students have access to Moodle which is our Virtual Learning Environment. Many resources, for example, journal articles, required for postgraduate study will be available online through the OneSearch facility offered by the Library. Additionally the Library provides extra services for Distance Learners.

Visit our Computer requirements for distance learners page for further information.

Rebecca Marsden is the Online Learning Support Officer for the Department of Educational Research and she can be contacted with queries about online learning.

The Learning skills webpages provide a wide range of online study opportunities across a range of topics. These include digital skills, referencing, research training and critical thinking.

Current Programme staff

The staff who teach and supervise programmes and modules can vary due to staff changes including research and other types of leave.

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Contact us

If you have any questions, or would like further information about this programme, please contact the Programme Co-ordinator, Alice Jesmont.

Tel: +44 (0) 1524 592893