PhD in Educational Research - Higher Education

The PhD in Educational Research - Higher Education has been designed for those currently working in higher education who wish to advance their career and increase their research skills. It is a well-established and successful route to a PhD, having been delivered successfully for over 25 years.

This is a part-time structured programme that is undertaken through directed distance study and residential-based learning over 4 years. Participants focus on their final research thesis from the third year onwards.

You will be joining our vibrant community of researchers and academics in a department that is ranked 6th in the UK by the Times Higher Education world subject rankings table for education 2022.

Academics providing modules and supervision on this programme are all internationally renowned researchers who belong to the Centre for Higher Education Research and Evaluation.

Key information


How to Apply

Please apply using the My Applications online system.

The next programme start date is January 2023.

The cohort size does not normally exceed 30.

The initial closing date for applications is 30th November 2022. Applications received after this date will be considered with a final deadline of 10th December.

Please apply using the My Applications online system.

As this is a PhD by coursework and thesis we do not require a research proposal at this stage: however, we do request a personal statement and writing sample.

Alternatively, application forms can be obtained from: Postgraduate Admissions Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Lancaster University LANCASTERLA1 4YL

Telephone: +44 (0)1524 510880 Fax: +44 (0)1524 510857 E-mail:

For admission to this version of the programme applicants should normally have:

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

Applicants should normally have at least three years' experience of teaching, research, staff development, management, administration or related function in the higher education sector. The higher education sector is broadly conceived and includes higher education institutions, national agencies responsible higher education (such as quality assurance agencies), ministries responsible for higher education or research, non-governmental organisations working in higher education, networks and associations in higher education, and other institutions.

In judging applications, special attention is paid to the comments made by referees. Although your referees may be from a professional context, having an academic referee who can comment on your capacity for independent research and study as well as your ability to complete tasks to a deadline is extremely helpful.

Please see the section on ‘what to include’ for more information on the evidence that is required for admission to this programme.

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.

Personal statement

Because this is a doctoral programme by coursework and thesis, we do not require a research proposal from applicants. However, the personal statement should contain the following:

  • A statement of where you are currently employed, and in what capacity;
  • An explanation of how you fulfil the criteria of having at least three years’ experience in the higher education sector;
  • A statement of reasons for applying for this programme in particular;
  • A statement of how you will benefit from this programme;
  • Any evidence or examples of achieving goals and meeting deadlines in a comparable area in the past;
  • Any evidence or examples to indicate successful engagement in collaborative tasks (as this is an aspect of the programme's approach);
  • Any evidence or examples of the ability to think and write analytically.

Writing sample

Please provide a piece of writing, in English, that you have produced in the past and which best demonstrates the following characteristics:

  • The ability to respond in a focused way to a specific question, remit or task;
  • The ability to express ideas in an accessible way;
  • The ability to structure a document in a clear and logical manner.

The document must have been produced by you alone. It may be something academic (perhaps for a prior qualification such as a Masters dissertation) or could be a policy document, a guidance document or some other form (perhaps produced in your professional role) which demonstrates the three characteristics above. If the document is accessible online, you may also provide us with a link to it.

Many students have published journal articles arising from their module assignments and theses.

Publications from DPER programme

Recent Alumni Annette Van Rooij and Tony Burke talk about DPER Programme.

View a list of some of the PhD theses from the DPER programme.

PhD theses from DPER programme

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:

  • 22/23 is £4,780 per academic year, for four years minimum, for UK students and £8,550 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

PhD in Educational Research - Higher Education graduates

Structure and modules

The programme is divided into two parts and has a modular structure. Each of the six modules as well as the final thesis is assessed.

Programme staff

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

Contact us

Programme Director

Dr Janja Komljenovic

Programme Co-ordinator

Alison Sedgwick
Tel: +44 (0) 1524 592685