Structure and modules

The programme is divided into two parts, and has a modular structure with six modules in total. 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.

Part One

Part One core modules

Assessment for each core module involves researching and writing a publishable paper for an academic journal (7,000 words).


  • EDS851: Understanding Social Justice Internationally: Issues, Theories and Approaches

    This core module focuses on international education development, introducing you to historical and present projects and key organisations, policies and practices.

    We will consider the impact of these on social stratification, and the ways in which education policy can influence worldwide social justice.

    Gaining practical research experience is central to this module. You will work alongside your cohort peers and engage in an action research project, which is praxis-oriented and involves the community or group under study.

    Your community, group or organisation will be advocating for social justice in education. Working in this research environment, you’ll explore education issues for particular populations within the wider context of global justice.

    You will gain valuable experience as a researcher while also improving your theoretical knowledge of the field. The module’s assessment is via a 7,000 word paper, which may be suitable for journal publication or presentation at conference.

  • EDS852: Promoting Social Justice through Education

    How does education promote or inhibit social justice?

    In this module we draw upon a variety of approaches to social justice, engaging with theories and issues that help us to develop critical understanding around this fundamental question.

    Your own professional environment, those of your cohort peers, and other education settings will be used to gather evidence and provide a contextual perspective to the learning.

    For those of you with a professional role centred on the promotion of social justice in education, this module provides an opportunity to apply newly acquired insight to the development and improvement of your own current practice.

    This module will also see you progress as an autonomous researcher, and assessment is via a 7,000 word paper suitable for publication in an academic journal.

    On a practical level, you will enhance your knowledge of current work in the field while developing your own research capabilities.

  • EDS857: Education, Activism and Global Social Movements

    This module aims to explore and examine the relationship between education and social movements/change. It pays particular attention to educational and social (in)equalities relating to race, gender, environment, migration, poverty, peace and democracy (freedoms). The module explores the economic, social, political, environmental and policy context of movements and campaigns for improving educational justice across different global case studies/campaigns.

    It gives students an opportunity to:

    • look into how social movements, and those practising educational activism, can contribute to educational change;
    • how social movement learning takes place;
    • how social movements use different spaces and practices of education to push their agenda for social justice.

    The module will equip students with critical skills and knowledge to analayse social movement dynamics and how they affect the educational landscape, initiatives and policy.

Part One support modules

Assessment involves a number of short assignments (5-5,500 words in total, for each module).


  • EDS854: Researching Social Justice

    This is where the fundamentals, practicalities and essentials of research are uncovered; the Researching Social Justice module is your practical guide to improving your competency as a researcher.

    You will encounter and use a variety of research methods and methodologies, which are used to generate qualitative and quantitative data.

    The module will see you delve deep into the philosophy and theory of research, and you’ll explore the epistemological principles behind research techniques and their associated processes.

    Over the course of the module, and applying what you have learned, you’ll write a research proposal in preparation for your thesis in Part Two. The proposal will be submitted as the module’s primary assessment, alongside several short papers (totalling 5,500 words).

  • EDS855: Social Justice in Instutions and Organisations

    The Social Justice in Institutions and Organisations module is your chance to develop your understanding of, and critically appraise, social justice as a concept and as a characteristic of institutions.

    This module invites you to question the nature of social justice as applied to any given institution – and to consider how theories of social justice may vary across institutions.

    We will identify the ways institutions measure their success in complying with their own definitions of social justice. And we’ll explore the means by which they may seek to become more socially just.

    An integral part of your journey as a developing researcher, this compulsory module is also an excellent opportunity to connect your own working practice with relevant literature - and to hone in on aspects of social justice that most interest you.

    You will enhance your ability to theorise, conceptualise, analyse and articulate facets of your own professional practice.

    Undertaken during your first year of PhD studies, the module is assessed via a number of short assignments (5,000 words in total). These enable you to develop your research and writing skills and they prepare the ground for year two when assessment is via longer publishable papers suitable for academic journals.

Conversion process to Part Two

Assessment of a Thesis Proposal (the confirmation document)

Towards the end of Part One, students must produce a PhD confirmation document containing a research plan for the PhD thesis (up to 5,000 words).

Part Two

In the second half of your PhD programme, you will embark on an original research project and produce a 45,000-word thesis based on the research proposal that you developed in Part One.

Part Two (years 3 and 4) centres on researching, writing, and then defend your thesis during a viva voce oral examination by both external and internal examiners.

The Part Two module, EDS856: Writing and defending the thesis, is designed to keep you on track as you carry out your main research project, and to provide invaluable guidance on writing and defending your thesis. There are no additional assignments for this module, which is designed to provide resources for entering and successful achievment of Part Two. The module signals your final steps towards becoming an autonomous researcher.

Throughout the course of your research project, you’ll also be supported by an experienced PhD supervisor who is closely matched to your particular research interests.

The EDS856 module and your supervision time will help you evidence personal and practical proficiencies including:

  • in-depth understanding of how research is carried out;
  • recognising and eliminating issues, following good practise guidelines;
  • critically reviewing your own work and working independently.