Educational Research (Independent Study)


  • Entry year 2024
  • Duration Full time 3 - 4 years, Part time 4 - 7 years


Why Lancaster?
  • Join a department that specialises in doctoral study and work alongside experts in higher education, social justice, technology and enhanced learning
  • Prepare for a career in academia, educational administration, or NGO work, by exploring an issue that interests you with support from an expert in that area
  • Access training and support in a range of practical, research, and career areas through both the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Research Training Programme, as well as bespoke sessions run by the department.
  • Benefit from our membership of the ESRC North West Doctoral Training Partnership which provides access to funding and specialist training opportunities
  • Become part of a supportive, international community of PhD researchers from a diverse range of backgrounds and careers around the world
  • Through carrying out your own research you’ll develop your skills and actively contribute to the field of education

A strong research culture and supportive community are hallmarks of our department, making Lancaster an excellent choice to deepen your insight into education and educational research. Develop yourself as a confident, competent researcher and contribute new ideas to this thriving and diverse field.

Extensive expertise in education

As a PhD researcher, you’ll be welcomed into our community of highly regarded scholars. We’ll connect you to academics within our three departmental research hubs:

Regular research seminars, reading groups and postgraduate group meetings take place both in real time and asynchronously, and they’re a great way to create connections within our community.

Although you’ll be studying independently, you won’t be on your own. Many colleagues will have expertise to share and you’ll be part of exciting conversations about work in this area. You’ll have the opportunity to benefit from our relationships with scholars in other universities in the UK and overseas, as well as local schools and colleges.

Contribute to the field

You’ll carry out research into an issue that interests you and write a thesis. This is your opportunity to contribute new knowledge to the scholarly community. Although the journey may be challenging, you’ll have extensive support from your supervisors, peers and other staff. You can join in regular discussions to broaden your knowledge and skills base, and we’ll assist you to overcome any challenges that you may encounter. Discussions and support can take place either online or in person.

Our PhD researchers look at a range of topics including higher education policy, teacher training development, students’ experiences, experiences of online learning spaces, women’s leadership and decolonising education. Others have explored racial social justice, academic identity, human rights education, digital skills development, student motivation and intersectional pedagogy.

Interested in applying? Read the Search for a Supervisor information on our departmental web pages to match your research interests to the specialisms available in the department.


Completing your PhD offers an opportunity to contribute to the field. Our doctoral community in the department is international and collegial, consisting of researchers who are established in their careers and those who have more recently completed their undergraduate and postgraduate study. This diversity is a plus because you can exchange experience and views, learning from and supporting each other.

Many of our graduates stay in academia. However, the understanding of education that you develop through your PhD, may open up opportunities within educational management and administration or with organisations that address social justice or other educational issues. For example, some graduates work for charities such as the Sutton Trust which addresses educational disadvantage.

Whatever you decide to do, the insights you'll gain from this degree will help you to see the world from a new perspective and develop a network of connections with academics and professionals from a diverse range of backgrounds.

Entry requirements

Academic Requirements

2:1 Hons degree (UK or equivalent) usually a taught Master's degree, or its equivalent.

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.

Additional Requirements

As part of your application you will also need to provide a viable research proposal. Guidance for writing a research proposal can be found on our writing a research proposal webpage.

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.

If your score is below our requirements, you may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language programmes.

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

Fees and funding

Location Full Time (per year) Part Time (per year)
Home £4,786 £2,393
International £21,082 £10,541

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.