PhD or MA by Research

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Key facts

Start dates

January 2024 / June 2024 / September 2024

Application deadline

It typically takes up to four months (five months for International and EU applicants) from you submitting your application to enrollment on your programme. This is subject to all the necessary documentation being in place.


Harcourt Hill

Course length

Full time: 1 - 3 years

Part time: 1 - 4 years

Funding status



Research in the School of Education, Humanities and Languages spans learning and development from the early years through to primary, secondary, further and higher education. It covers both formal education and informal learning outside institutional contexts, and a range of disciplinary traditions and methodological approaches. We have strong connections with other researchers in the University and beyond, including many international links and connections with schools and other educational organisations. 

In the 2014 REF (Research Excellence Framework), almost 90% of our research was deemed to be of international merit, with around one half either ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. As a research student you would have access to a wide range of training and other research events.

We offer supervision across the following areas of expertise:

  • childhood and youth
  • inclusion and wellbeing
  • partnership and leadership
  • pedagogy and curriculum
  • humanistic perspectives
  • early years
  • language and linguistics. 

We are also proud to offer a Doctorate in Education (EdD).

Student writing notes

Research expertise

We are home to a vibrant, inclusive, interdisciplinary research community. In the School of Education, Humanities and Languages, our six research groups span diverse fields of learning and development across the life course, from the early years to higher education, to work-based and lifelong learning.

Internationally-recognised researchers and researcher-practitioners work alongside early career researchers and doctoral students in an environment that encourages collaboration and critical dialogue. We work across the rich disciplinary and methodological traditions of educational research, including the humanities, social sciences, life sciences, and health sciences.

Funding comes from a variety of organisations, including research councils, government departments, international agencies and charities.

We strongly recommend that prior to submitting a full application you identify and make contact directly with a potential Director of Studies. Please look at our research group pages and individual staff profiles to help you identify the appropriate member of staff and to find out whether your proposed research focus is one that we can supervise. 

Degree routes

All students enrol as probationer research students. During the first year you will formally register your research proposal for one of the below routes. 

The degree for which you register will depend on your academic qualifications and research experience. 

Why Oxford Brookes University?

  • Each research student in the Faculty will be allocated £630 towards the costs associated with specific research activities during the research programme.
  • Close supervision from experts in your chosen research area, including joint supervision across departments for interdisciplinary projects. 
  • Plentiful opportunities to present your work. Depending on your chosen subject you may have the opportunity to attend:
    • research seminars with presentations from high profile external guest speakers
    • specialist seminars organised by individual research groups and clusters
    • methodology workshops.  
  • You will also be encouraged to submit publications to leading research journals.
  • You may have the opportunity to develop your teaching, mentoring and demonstrating skills by undertaking paid teaching activities for up to six hours a week. You may also be required to attend the Associate Teachers course which is run by the University’s Oxford Centre for Academic Enhancement and Development .

Learning and assessment

Our research degrees involve substantial work on original research, which can be empirical or based on documentary sources or secondary data. However, this is done with support from supervisors, and through engaging with other research students in the School of Education, Humanities and Languages.

All of our research degrees are assessed through the submission of the written thesis, and an oral viva examination. Progress is also checked through interim ‘milestones’ such as annual monitoring, registration and transfer.

There are no compulsory study modules for research degrees in Education. Students are strongly advised to engage fully with the Doctoral Training Programme sessions run by the Graduate College, by the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, and the School of Education, Humanities and Languages, working with their supervisors to set up a training programme that best meets their needs.

Student looking at a computer

After you graduate

Career prospects

We are passionate about fostering the careers of our researchers and ensure that they gain research skills training, leadership experience and teaching practice as part of the doctoral programmes we offer.

Many of our graduates have continued to work after graduation, in schools or in educational provision in a wide range of other settings, including:

  • healthcare
  • youth work
  • family and community work
  • further education
  • higher education
  • adult education.

A research degree in Education at Brookes has facilitated access to new roles and to progression in these settings. It also provides a wide range of skills transferable to many other employment sectors. 

How to apply

Entry requirements

Please see the specific entry requirement details in the degree routes section above.

If you choose to study full-time you must be able to devote a minimum of 35 hours per week over a 44-week year to your research. You should not undertake more than 20 hours per week paid employment or other commitments (including a maximum of six hours per week teaching, demonstrating, or other paid work directly related to your research training).

If you choose to study part-time you must be able to devote a minimum of 15 hours per week over a 44-week year to the programme of research.

You must also meet our residence requirements.

English language requirements

Applicants whose main language is not English must meet the Faculty’s English language requirements. The minimum IELTS score required for entry to the research degree programme is 6.5–7 overall.

In addition, we require a minimum of 6.5 in each component of the test. We do not accept IELTS certificates that are over two years old.

English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the University's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

Application process

It is essential that you first check whether your specific research interests can be adequately supervised before submitting a full application. To do this please email the Research Administrator ( your provisional research proposal. This should be 1500–2000 words in length and should include a title and a summary of the proposed subject area.

There is no specific format for research proposals but the following areas are usually covered:

  • introduction
  • evidence of background reading and knowledge/previous experience of research area
  • details of research methods proposed to carry out the project
  • the aims of the research project and any proposed hypotheses/outcomes
  • literature review
  • how your research project will make an original and independent contribution to knowledge.

If your area of research can potentially be supervised you will be encouraged to submit a full application via our online application system.

The Research Administrator will acknowledge receipt of your application by email. We strive to make a decision within one month of receiving your application. Please note, however, decisions may take longer during busier periods of the academic year.

Supporting documents

Please read through the list of supporting documentation that must be uploaded along with your application or emailed separately.

Tuition fees

2023 / 24
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time

International full time

International part time

Tuition fees

2023 / 24
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time

International full time

International part time

Fees quoted are for the first year only. If you are studying a course that lasts longer than one year, your fees will increase each year.

For International fees the following factors will be taken into account by the University when it is setting the annual fees: inflationary measures such as the retail price indices, projected increases in University costs, changes in the level of funding received from Government sources, admissions statistics and access considerations including the availability of student support. 

Home fees are set by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and are released approximately five months before the start of each academic year.

If you have any questions about fees, get in touch with the Research Degrees Team at

How and when to pay

Tuition fee instalments for the semester are due by the Monday of week 1 of each semester. Students are not liable for full fees for that semester if they leave before week 4. If the leaving date is after week 4, full fees for the semester are payable.

  • For information on payment methods please see our Make a Payment page.
  • For information about refunds please visit our Refund policy page

Funding your studies

Financial support and scholarships

Featured funding opportunities available for this course.

All financial support and scholarships

View all funding opportunities for this course