Structure and modules

The programme is divided into two parts, and has a modular structure with six modules in total. All modules are compulsory. Each of the six modules, 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 higher education;
  • 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).

Part One

Part One modules

Assessment of Part One of the Programme consists of:

  • A written assignment of 7,000 words for each of the three core modules UPPHE, ECHE, RLTA;
  • Three short assignments for support Module A (5-6,000 words equivalent, in total);
  • Four very short submissions (reports, presentations, exercises), for support Module B.

Core modules

For each of the core modules you write one assignment for each, of around 7,000 words, receiving detailed feedback on a first draft from your tutor before final submission. This is modelled on the process of submitting an article to an academic journal.

These assignments are chosen by you and if you wish to you can submit them for publication in an academic journal. The PhD operates on a publish-as-you-go model. This is helpful to you in a number of ways, and is a distinguishing characteristic of this PhD programme.

These core modules run sequentially, each for around 7 months, each with sessions at three of the residentials. There are four residentials per year in Part One.


Subsidiary modules

You are supported in Part One by two further subsidiary modules: Module A - Research Design, Approaches and Tools, and Module B - Theory and Professional Practices in Higher Education

Here the assessment is designed to be formative and helpful for the core modules.

Modules A and B run for the whole length of the Part One. Module A is the primary means through which we support your acquisition of research skills. It is oriented towards the world of academic research. Module B develops your ability to approach your professional role in a more research-informed way.


Confirmation process to Part Two

Progression from Part One to Part Two is dependent upon successful completion of all Part One modules.

In addition you need to successfully complete the PhD confirmation process by producing a confirmation document of up to 5,000 words detailing a research plan for your PhD thesis. This document will be assessed by a confirmation panel and ensures you have a practicable project which will enable you to complete the PhD successfully.

An MRes exit route is also available at the end of Part One of the programme.

Part Two

In Part Two (year three onwards) 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.

Assessment of Part Two of the Programme consists of:

  • Three further short assignments for support Module C (2-3,000 words equivalent, in total).
  • A thesis of 45,000 words equivalent for the PhD.
  • There is an oral examination (a 'viva voce') of your PhD thesis, with both an external (to Lancaster) and an internal examiner.

Your thesis is assessed to exactly the same standards as a 'traditional route' (i.e. non-programmatic) PhD.

Module C

This module, taken in Part Two, will assist you in the various phases of conducting your research and writing it up for the thesis in Part Two. There are scheduled Module C sessions during Part Two, (three in year three and three in year four). During Part Two, the module attends to the needs of each phase: data collection and analysis; the process of writing the different chapters of the thesis; integrating theory and data; considering different audiences for your work and engaging in a defence of the thesis. The module is also responsive to needs of the cohort as they arise during the process of research and allows you to benefit from the collective intelligence of both departmental staff and other researchers on the doctoral programme.

Because this is a support module the assignments are assessed on a pass/fail basis and are designed to allow you to explore and experiment with some of the themes and concepts you will develop more fully in your thesis.

You are asked to write three short papers for this module, each focusing on a different aspect of the process of writing and defending a thesis. There is an opportunity to give a presentation on each assignment at the residential prior to the submission date and so to receive formative feedback from both the module tutor and other members of your cohort.

The module leader for module C is Malcolm Tight.

Participant comment: “…things fell into place and I was happy with all modules delivered. Really good knowledgeable supportive lecturers. Excellent, all questions answered and others posed!”