PhD in Education and Social Justice

This unique PhD in Education and Social Justice (by thesis and coursework) is a part-time structured PhD programme that is undertaken entirely online, over 4 years.

It provides a well-defined and supported route to a PhD for people around the world. The programme is designed so that participants can study entirely from home and whilst in full or part-time employment.

Key information

  • Overview

    Tutors are internationally renowned researchers/practitioners, based in one of the best Education Departments in the UK, in a University ranked in the top 200 world-wide and top 10 in the UK. The Department has an established and excellent reputation for doctoral provision. There are close links between the Education and Social Justice doctoral programme and the Department's Centre for Social Justice and Wellbeing in Education.

    We have designed the programme to enable issues, theories, methods and evaluations to be applied specifically to the particular concerns, contexts and priorities of the organisations and environments in which participants are working. The programme builds a mutually supportive spirit among participants who all have overlapping professional and academic interests. This means that participants benefit tremendously from studying within a cohort of students who act as critical friends and an informal support network during the programme, and a continued network throughout their careers.

  • Who is this programme for?

    The programme is for professionals world-wide who are working to promote social justice in or through education (in its broadest sense).

    The programme will be of benefit to a wide range of people, including, but not limited to:

    • teachers working in schools, further education, higher education, and lifelong learning; policy makers; managers; researchers working with social justice issues; youth workers;
    • activists and advocacy workers;
    • people with equity or social justice portfolios in a variety of institutions; education support personnel;
    • consultants; researchers and workers in charities and NGOs; and civil servants;
    • people who are retired from, or taking a break from, professional educational work.

    The programme and assignments are mainly designed for participants to focus on, and research, issues that are at the heart of their own professional practice and concerns. Non empirical library based assignments can also be undertaken.

  • Contact us

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

    Tel: +44 (0) 1524 593189


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.

How to Apply

The next start date is 1st October, 2020.

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 October, 2020.

Typical Cohort Number: 30

Initial Closing date for applications: 28th February, 2020.

Please note that any applications received prior this date will be held for consideration during March/April 2020.

Applications received after the end of February will be considered on a first-come-first-served basis until the Programme is full.

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:

  • 19/20 is £4,130 per academic year, for four years minimum, for UK/EU and £7,390 per academic year, for four years minimum, for overseas nationals.

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 & 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.

Structure and modules

The programme is divided into two parts and has a modular structure. All modules are compulsory. The five modules in Part One, a thesis proposal, and the final thesis are assessed.

  • Part One (years 1 and 2) - consists of five modules that offer participants guided study in key areas of education and social justice nationally and internationally.
  • Part Two (years 3 and 4) - participants carry out an original piece of research under the supervision of a member of staff and produce a thesis (45,000 words). There is also a module aimed at supporting you in Part Two.

Whilst this programme is undertaken entirely online, the Certificate produced on successful completion of the course will say "Doctor of Philosophy in Education and Social Justice", with no mention of the mode of delivery.

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.

Some tutors organise synchronous online meetings during their modules. These are not compulsory, as we understand time differences and software restrictions can impact on students' attending. We will always do everything we can to accommodation students unable to attend. 

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.

Download this pdf document to find out more about Computer requirements for distance learners.

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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