Education and Social Justice (thesis and coursework)


  • Entry year 2024
  • Duration Part time 48 Months


Our distinctive PhD programme is designed for professionals who are engaged in the promotion of social justice in or through education. Study is entirely online and part-time over a minimum of four years, providing you with a flexible yet academically rigorous and intellectually stimulating research route. The programme focuses on the issues and concerns at the heart of your professional practice and aims to train you as an autonomous researcher.

Working with world-leading, research-active academics, you will be encouraged to develop your own ideas in a structured and supportive research environment. Our department is ranked 51st in the world by the Times Higher Education World Subject Rankings 2023. We are proud to be rated joint top in the UK for the impact of our research by the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, with 100% of our research rated ‘outstanding’ for impact.

We are wholly committed to developing future researchers through an egalitarian approach. You and your global peers will connect with programme tutors and departmental staff, providing the opportunity to benefit from their extensive and diverse research experience and broad spectrum of interests, which reaches from end-to-end educationally; early childhood to lifelong learning.

You will become a member of our research hub, the Centre for Social Justice and Wellbeing in Education, which takes a multi-disciplinary approach to explorations of equity, diversity, inclusion and wellbeing. Contextual settings for projects include schools, higher education, home and the workplace. The common threads of social justice and education weave us all together but are broadly interpreted to allow individual interests and areas of professional practice to come to the fore as you establish your research identity.

Part of an international group of PhD students who share an interest in education and social justice and have previously studied to MA level or equivalent, you should find that the programme delivers a very human, inclusive and rich learning environment that’s also surprisingly sociable.

Skills development elements such as research methodologies, critical thinking and academic writing are complemented by engagement in online forums, peer and tutor review, webinars, interactive work, and skype conversations with supervisors.

Your dynamic peer cohort is likely to include people with diverse backgrounds, professions, interests and perspectives. Their and your professional practice will provide context as you all work to become excellent researchers in the fields. And you will have the opportunity to benefit from the cache of resources and library of previous students’ work that we will make available to you online.

During the first two years, you’ll undertake modules covering key social justice issues, approaches and theories, as well as research methods. From year 3 onwards, you’ll move on to undertake research and write a thesis, which is produced under the close supervision of a subject expert with one objective being to contribute new knowledge to the scholarly community.

Your thesis should have multiple outcomes: to build your academic profile, to result the in publication of journal papers and articles and/or conference presentations, and, to evidences the impact that your research could have if practically applied; for example, a previous graduate’s thesis on Asperger syndrome led to the development of guidelines for pastoral systems in universities.

The core modules are:

  • Understanding Social Justice Internationally: Issues, Theories and Approaches
  • Promoting Social Justice through Education
  • Education, Activism and Global Social Movements

Support modules include:

  • Researching Social Justice
  • Social Justice in Institutions and Organisations

Your PhD is awarded on completion of your supervised research, a viva examination, and final thesis. It may lead to career progression or change, a move into academia, or the satisfaction of intellectual curiosity.

Entry requirements

Academic Requirements

Bachelor's degree: An upper second class honours (UK or equivalent) in any subject.

Master's degree: A good Master's degree in any background.

We may also consider non-standard applicants, please contact us for information.

If you have studied outside of the UK, we would advise you to check our list of international qualifications before submitting your application.

English Language Requirements

We may ask you to provide a recognised English language qualification, dependent upon your nationality and where you have studied previously.

We normally require an IELTS (Academic) Test with an overall score of at least 6.5, and a minimum of 6.0 in the reading and writing elements and 5.5 in the speaking and listening elements. We also consider other English language qualifications.

Additional Information: No research proposal is required

Contact: Admissions Team +44 (0) 1524 592032 or email

Fees and funding



  • Home Fee  £5,410
  • International Fee  £9,670

General fees and funding information

Scholarships and bursaries

You may be eligible for the following funding opportunities, depending on your fee status and course. You will be automatically considered for our main scholarships and bursaries when you apply, so there's nothing extra that you need to do.

Unfortunately no scholarships and bursaries match your selection, but there are more listed on scholarships and bursaries page.

If you're considering postgraduate research you should look at our funded PhD opportunities.

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We also have other, more specialised scholarships and bursaries - such as those for students from specific countries.

Browse Lancaster University's scholarships and bursaries.

Important Information

The information on this site relates primarily to 2024/2025 entry to the University and every effort has been taken to ensure the information is correct at the time of publication.

The University will use all reasonable effort to deliver the courses as described, but the University reserves the right to make changes to advertised courses. In exceptional circumstances that are beyond the University’s reasonable control (Force Majeure Events), we may need to amend the programmes and provision advertised. In this event, the University will take reasonable steps to minimise the disruption to your studies. If a course is withdrawn or if there are any fundamental changes to your course, we will give you reasonable notice and you will be entitled to request that you are considered for an alternative course or withdraw your application. You are advised to revisit our website for up-to-date course information before you submit your application.

More information on limits to the University’s liability can be found in our legal information.

Our Students’ Charter

We believe in the importance of a strong and productive partnership between our students and staff. In order to ensure your time at Lancaster is a positive experience we have worked with the Students’ Union to articulate this relationship and the standards to which the University and its students aspire. View our Charter and other policies.