Research opportunities

School of Education

The School of Education serves the Scottish education community and has strong local and global professional networks and ties. We are important to the primary, secondary and tertiary teaching communities of Scotland through our provision of both quality initial and in-service teacher education and continuing professional development programmes. We have expertise in pedagogy, we engage in research and consultancy services in: teacher education; language teaching; and the continuing professional development of education practitioners. A major part of our work lies in the training of new researchers through our postgraduate research degrees.

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.

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Taught programmes

The School of Education has a wide range of taught postgraduate programmes.

RAE rating

In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) the School of Education was rated number one in Scotland, with 90 percent of our educational research of 'International Significance'.

Research supervision

The School of Education is recognised for the quality of its research. Our research has impact and changes lives. As we comprise a body of highly regarded academic staff, widely published in their respected areas of expertise, our supervisory capacity and capability is extensive and sought after. Find a supervisor.

Research training

Education at Stirling has Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) recognition for full-time and part-time research students, including those on the taught MRes and PhD. A wide range of training and development opportunities help you meet the ESRC postgraduate training guidelines.


The School offers a range of opportunities to undertake a doctorate:

PhD by research

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.

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Apply for PhD by research

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.

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Apply for PhD by publication

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Whatever your professional interest in education – from schools, colleges and universities to professional, work-based and lifelong learning, or policy development – a Professional Doctorate (EdD) may be the right choice for you.

A Professional Doctorate in Education is rewarding and challenging, and can even be a life-changing experience.  At Stirling, you will join a multi-professional group of students and academics focussing on research that has a beneficial impact on professional practice and policy.  Previous students of the EdD have included:  school teachers and Further Education staff, senior leaders in Education and Further Education, TESOL professionals, and professional educators in areas such as medicine, pharmacy, nursing, accountancy, surveying and life sciences. 

The Doctorate in Education (EdD) is an innovative inter-disciplinary programme, offered on a flexible full and part-time basis by the Schools of Education and Applied Social Science. Different modules are taught on a face-to-face and blended basis.

The programme comprises seven core taught modules:

  1. The Nature of Social Enquiry
  2. The Nature of Educational Enquiry
  3. Digital Theory and Research
  4. Research Design and Process
  5. Quantitative Data Analysis
  6. Qualitative Data Analysis
  7. Professional Practice

This is followed by the conduct of an empirical study focussed on an aspect of professional practice and the production of a doctoral thesis of 45,000 words.

Apply for Doctorate of Education

Master’s degree by Research (MRes)

This innovative MRes course prepares you for doctoral studies and a career in Educational Research through a series of taught modules and a dissertation. Under the expert guidance of a team of leading academics you will learn the skills of research, from conception through to design, methodology and data collection, to analysis, interpretation and dissemination. As part of the course you will engage closely with cutting edge research projects currently being undertaken by the School of Education. The MRes prepares you for doctoral studies.

Apply for Education MRes

Entrance requirements

To be considered for admission to the degree, a candidate will normally have a good honours degree in Education or cognate subject from a Higher Education institution in the United Kingdom, or a degree of equivalent standard from an institution outside the United Kingdom.  Exceptionally, a candidate with learning gained through extensive relevant professional experience may be considered for admission.  Candidates are expected to have good numeracy skills and a willingness to engage in depth and breadth with statistical analysis.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence of your proficiency such as a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 (minimum in each skill), or TOEFL: Listening 23, Reading 23, Speaking 23, Writing 23.

Contact us Janet McCurdie Research Programmes in Education +44 (0)1786 467937
© University of Stirling FK9 4LA Scotland UK • Telephone +44 1786 473171 • Scottish Charity No SC011159
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