Research Opportunities

PhD programmes

PhD by research

A PhD by research offers the most usual route to a doctorate. Study can be full-time (typically 3 years) or part-time (typically 6 years). You will join a cohort along with other new students usually on 1st of January, April, July or October.

The programme is designed to enable you to research a topic in depth with the support of an expert supervisor, leading to a 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 currently offer PhD supervision across a range of disciplines, including Sociology, Social Policy, Criminology, Social Work, Housing Studies, Dementia Studies, Education and related disciplines. We also offer students the opportunity to conduct research in a world-class and interdisciplinary school with strong links to theoretical, empirical, policy and practice developments.

We will assist 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 of Social Science, and you are eligible to attend their events, as well as those organised throughout the Stirling Graduate School and within the Faculty of Social Sciences. We actively encourage PhD students to be fully involved in the research culture of the school with PhD students being active participants in our research groups, leading research seminars and taking part in research group activities. 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 specific 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.

Click here for PhD Application

PhD by publication

This route varies from the traditional PhD in that the final thesis comprises four to six published research papers interlinked by a contextualised narrative but 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.

Click here for PhD Application

PhD in TESOL Research 

The PhD in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Research is a unique programme, offered at the University of Stirling.  This ground-breaking programme will develop your research skills to a professional level, which is characteristic of a PhD degree, and support your learning through seven modules, a feature of taught doctorates.  During your time at Stirling, your learning will be facilitated by tutors who have extensive expertise in TESOL, research methods and/or educational theories.  This is a novel PhD programme across the UK, which is entirely dedicated to TESOL Research.  If you are interested in investigating language use, teaching and/or learning, this PhD programme will be of interest to you.  The PhD will challenge the boundaries of your academic knowledge and will be a rewarding experience both personally and professionally.

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Research degrees

Taught PhD Programmes

Doctor of Education (EdD)  

Click here for details on the EdD

The Doctorate in Education (EdD) is an innovative inter-disciplinary programme, offered on a flexible full and part-time. Modules are taught on a face-to-face and blended basis.

Summative assessment for modules will be based on coursework and will be assessed through assignments. The programme comprises seven core taught modules, followed by the conduct of an empirical study focused on an aspect of professional practice and the production of a doctoral thesis.

Click here to apply for the EdD


Doctorate of Applied Social Research (DASR)

Click here for details on the DASR

As a Doctor of Applied Social Research student in the School of Social Sciences, you will follow a programme of study that will allow you to develop your skills as a researcher before working with experienced supervisors on the conduct of an original piece of research. The programme is designed to change the way you think as a professional. It is expected that you will be able to make a significant different to your professional environment from the very beginning of the programme. Ideas and methods from a range of disciplines will be applied to your own fields of expertise.

The DASR Programme offers six professional pathways through which candidates are able to take a tailored route through their studies:

  • Housing
  • Social Work  
  • Criminal Justice  
  • Dementia Studies  
  • Applied Social Research
  • Social Statistics

Click here to apply for the DASR

Masters degree by Research (MRes)

The MRes prepares you for doctoral studies.

Applied Social Research (MRes)

More details here

This MRes programme has a core of modules in generic research skills, plus specialist disciplinary modules covering subject areas such as Social Sciences, Film, Media and Journalism, Management, Nursing, Midwifery and Health and Sports Studies. Teaching methods are designed to facilitate your acquisition of skills and progressive development.  Students are expected to participate in lectures, seminars, tutorials, computer-based workshops and group work. Assessments include essays, critical review essays, book reviews, research proposals, a computer lab-based assessment for quantitative data analysis and a research dissertation.

Educational Research (MRes)

More details here

The course is designed to meet the Economic and Social Research Council’s requirements for broad knowledge, practical skills and both generic and specific competencies in educational research.

It comprises taught modules and a dissertation. The taught modules assessment will be based on coursework and will be assessed through assignments approximately 3000 words in. length the dissertation involves a small piece of educational research written up as a 15,000 dissertation.

Criminological Research (MRes)

More details here

The Criminological Research MRes prepares students for undertaking social research and evaluation, leading to careers in research, research management and commissioning or using research. The course is supported by staff from both the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR) and Law. SCCJR hosts regular, state-of-the-art events to which students are invited. There are also strong links with the applied crime and criminal justice sector, including Police Scotland and the Scottish Prison Service.

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