Postgraduate research opportunities

Postgraduate research programmes

The School of Education offers both doctoral and Master’s level programmes of study. These are designed to develop students’ skills in research. Students work with experienced supervisors to undertake an original piece of research. For details of our supervisors and some of the subject areas they cover please visit our research supervision page.


The School offers a range of opportunities to undertake a doctorate.  For further information and to apply, click here.

PhD by research - click here to apply

A PhD by research offers the most usual route to a doctorate. Study can be full-time (typically 3-4 years) or part-time (typically 4-6 years). You will join a cohort with other new students. We currently recruit two cohorts per year (September and February) – your starting date for study is flexible, but we expect all students to join the first available cohort for induction activities and doctoral training.

The programme is designed to enable you to research a topic in depth with the support of an expert supervisor, leading to an 80,000 word thesis. Your thesis is expected to be a substantial original contribution to knowledge in the field, with the potential to generate peer-reviewed publications. You will undertake your research under the supervision of a supervisory team, comprising a principal supervisor and a second supervisor (who may be from a different discipline if appropriate).

We will advise you in identifying your training needs, which may include participation in existing research methods modules or short courses. Stirling is part of the Scottish Graduate School in Social Science, and you are eligible to attend their events, as well as those organised through the Stirling Graduate School and within the School of Education. We also expect you to play an active part in the wider research community in the School, attending our weekly seminars and presenting your own papers at our annual research student conference. As your research develops, we will also encourage you to take part in appropriate international and national research conferences.

Entry to the PhD programme is contingent upon possession of a recognised Master’s research degree in a social science (e.g. MRes), or substantial equivalent experience in undertaking research. We also ask you to submit a proposal for your intended research. We can provide feedback on proposals before the official application stage. Guidelines on what the research proposal should contain can be found at research supervision page.

PhD by Publication

This route leads to a PhD (part-time of full-time), through a final thesis comprising four to six published research papers interlinked by a contextualised narrative, within the standard word limit of 80,000. The papers may include papers, chapters, monographs and books, and the majority of these must be published or accepted for publication within the PhD registration period. All other aspects of the programme (supervision, involvement, length, cost and support) are the same as the thesis route.

Doctor of Education (EdD) - click here to apply

The EdD is aimed at professionals working in educational training and public sector settings who wish to pursue high-level research on some aspect of their professional practice. The EdD has a stronger professional and vocational orientation than the PhD and is designed for staff in education and health authorities, schools, colleges, universities and related areas, who wish to develop their understanding of what research can offer practitioners and policy-makers in their decision making, the policy implications of research, and how to conduct research in their own professional domain. The programme initially comprises 6 taught modules:

1. An introduction to educational research.
2. Professionalism: policy, practice and research.
3. An introduction to social theory.
4. Practical Research Methods: a] An introduction to qualitative research; b] An introduction to quantitative research.
5. Self-directed study module.
6. Research proposal.

The taught modules are integrated with the thesis phase of the degree (40-50,000 words). During this latter phase, you will be supervised by team, comprising a principal supervisor and a second supervisor (who may be from a different discipline if appropriate). The programme is part-time, typically taking 4-6 years to complete.

Entry to the programme would normally follow completion of a Master’s degree (or exceptionally a good honours degree from a UK institution, or subject to approval a good honours degree from an international institution); however, this does not have to be a recognised research degree such as an MRes, as research training is provided during the taught phase of the doctorate. In addition, three years' professional experience is expected.

Master’s degree by Research (MRes) - click here to apply

The MRes prepares you for doctoral studies. Further information available here.

Contact details

Research Programmes in Education
Secretary: Janet McCurdie
Tel: +44 (0)1786 467937

© University of Stirling FK9 4LA Scotland UK • Telephone +44 1786 473171 • Scottish Charity No SC011159
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