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PhD / MPhil Professional Education

This PhD/MPhil in Professional Education comes from City's Department for Learning Enhancement and Development.

Key Information

Start date

Applications will normally be expected for an October start but in some circumstances a February start will be considered.


PhD Full-time: 2 - 4 years

PhD Part-time: 3 - 7 years

PhD by prior publication: 1 - 2 years



Full-time: £4,500 per year

Part-time: £2,250 per year


Full-time: £12,000 per year

Part-time: £6,000 per year


We have developed this programme for those of you who would like to explore an area of professional education in detail and contribute to the development of knowledge and practice in your chosen area. We focus on Higher Education only.

You might undertake this through empirical research or through drawing together your publications in the field to develop an analytical account of your unique contribution.

Learning Enhancement and Development

The Department for Learning Enhancement and Development (LEaD) exists to support students and staff in the creation and realisation of the best possible educational experience. The department is a central service, an academic department and has a research active team. It plays a vital role in managing the change associated with improving the educational culture at City.

We aim to:

  • Support programme design and delivery that is inclusive, flexible, creative and innovative
  • Provide professional development to support excellence in educational practice
  • Support Students to achieve maximum potential
  • Undertake research and scholarly activity to underpin the department’s work and promote leading edge academic practice
  • Communicate about our work and collaborate with others to achieve our aims and support the enhancement of education

The Department has a range of staff who work across five teams to facilitate all this activity and they include the academic team, the educational technology team, the learning development support team, the student counselling and mental health well-being team and learning success.

Learn more about the Department of Learning Enhancement and development.


Entry requirements

You should normally be working in an area of professional education and have a minimum of three years experience of providing professional education so that you can draw upon your practice as well as your theory and use this programme of study to develop your practice.

You are expected to have a good honours degree (normally no less than a second class honours degree from a UK University) in an appropriate subject and/or an MA or MSc or equivalent qualification.

If you consider yourself to be a non-traditional student you may be considered if you can demonstrate substantial research or relevant professional experience/publication.

In addition if you wish to transfer from another recognised PhD programme in a related area you may be considered, if you can demonstrate appropriate progress in your programme and research activity equivalent to the upgrade requirements of this programme.  If you are able to meet these requirements you may enter as a direct PhD student.

English requirements

If your first language is not English, one of the following qualifications is also required:

  • IELTS: 6.5

Visa requirements

If you are not from the European Economic Area / Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa or entry clearance to come to the UK to study.

The way that you apply may vary depending on the length of your course. There are different rules for:

  • Students on courses of more than six months
  • Students on courses of less than six months
  • Students on a pre-sessional English language course.

If you require a Tier 4 student visa to study in the UK, you cannot undertake any City courses on a part-time basis.

For more information see our main Visa page.


Types of Doctorate

We offer three types of doctorates, namely, traditional, structured and synthesis of prior publications. You will normally register as an MPhil/PhD student and, in due course, be assessed for transfer to PhD registration..

Traditional PhD

This route focuses on academic inquiry and scholarship which requires a significant and original contribution to knowledge. You may have developed your idea and desire to research your topic from practice but the focus is usually on developing the academic knowledge in this area. It requires an extensive study focused on scholarly activity in the area by undertaking empirical research to contribute original knowledge and theory. These theoretical underpinnings may not have been applied to practice but will extend the knowledge boundaries in this area. In this route you will on completion of your study submit a thesis of between 80,000 to 100,000 words.

Structured PhD

This route is similar to the traditional PhD but the focus is usually firmly located within a professional discipline and practice. There is an expectation, as with the traditional PhD, that you make a significant and original contribution to knowledge but that this will have a direct impact on professional practice and your research should evidence this. The structured route enables you to take account of changing practice and needs at each stage. Whilst this is completed in stages the different components are all submitted together and would require you to make some final amendments to each to ensure they reflect contemporary practice.
There different components of this thesis include: a preface explaining what is to follow, a case study of the area being explored its relation to learning and teaching, a critical review of literature, an original piece of research and a dissemination artefact. These components will be submitted as a single volume of between 80,000 – 100,000 words.

Prior Publication

The focus of this route is on those of you who have published in your discipline (often combining research and scholarly activity but over a period of time) and have demonstrated an original contribution of knowledge in this area. This may not have been your original intention but through reflection on your work this has become more obvious. The components of the submission includes the body of published and a supporting document which synthesises the published work and indicate clearly the original contribution to knowledge in no more than 25,000 words.

Areas of Research that could be supported

The focus of this doctorate is higher education and some of the areas we can support include:

  • Educational strategy and management
  • Learning and teaching approaches
  • Curriculum studies
  • Technology to enhance learning
  • Academic Leadership
  • Assessment
  • Work based learning
  • Educational Development
  • Professional development for staff

Funding options

Fees for doctoral candidates are charged annually and cover registration, supervision and examination. Fees are subject to review each year and may vary during your period of registration.




Research students are normally appointed a supervisory team consisting of at least two supervisors. One of these will be designated as the first point of contact with personal responsibility for ensuring that effective supervision is provided.

Training provision

When you commence your supervisor will assess any needs you have for training and will explore an appropriate programme of development with you including undertaking some modules to help you teach when required.

Research enviroment

You will have the use of a desk, phone and other office resources within LEaD. You will also be invited to all activities that are part of the LEaD development so you can participate and become an active member of the team.

How to apply

You will need to complete an application form and two references, one of which should be an academic reference demonstrating support for your ability to study at this level. If you are applying for the traditional or structured thesis routes you should also provide a research proposal which follows the format of:

  • A brief introduction to your chosen area, how this relates to your role or practice and your reason for undertaking this study (approx 200 words)
  • A brief literature review of key resources which support the area needing investigation and some questions that have arisen from the literature (approx 1000 words)
  • The research method you believe is appropriate for the study (approx 600 words)
  • How this study and its findings may enhance your role or practice and the original contribution to knowledge you hope to make (approx 200 words)

If you to apply for the prior publication route you need to submit a list of the publications upon which you wish to be assessed and these should be in English with you as either the sole author or one of the authors. You should also include a written document of 2,000 words outlining how the publications demonstrate an original and significant contribution to the area that is the focus of your work.

All applications and proposals will then be reviewed by the Senior Tutor/Programme Leader for the research programme and at least one further category A supervisor. If the proposed area of research can be supported by the expertise of the supervisors in the department (see list provided earlier) and the other aspects of the application meet the criteria then the applicant may be invited for interview with the proposed supervisor and the Senior Tutor for the programme or another member of the approved supervisor team. This interview might take place via the telephone or Skype if required.

If you wish to apply for an October start you need to submit your application and the research proposal or outline of publications and their contribution to knowledge by the 31st August.

In some circumstances we may consider a February start and you would need to submit your application and the research proposal or outline of publications and their contribution to knowledge by the 20th December.

Applications would be expected to be reviewed and where appropriate a written offer of a place made at least six weeks prior to registration on the programme however this may not be possible and if you apply late this may delay your start date on this programme.

The Department operates within the University policy on equal opportunities and so this would be demonstrated when considering applications.

If you would like to discuss the programme further contact Professor Pam Parker (Programme Leader),

If you need an application form or other information contact:

The Programme Administrator
Department of Learning Enhancement and Development
City, University of London
Level 3 University Building (Building Code: B)
10 Northampton Square
London EC1V 0HB

Tel: +44 (0)20 7040 3107
Fax: +44 (0)20 7040 3145


The department for Learning Enhancement and Development is made up of an Academic Team, Educational Technologists, Learning Success and the Student Counselling and Mental Health Service.

The department is central to the delivery of the Education and Student Strategy. We work with Schools and Services to enhance the educational experiences of our students and champion innovation in teaching and learning.

Find us

City, University of London

Northampton Square

London EC1V 0HB

United Kingdom

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City, University of London is an independent member institution of the University of London. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University of London consists of 18 independent member institutions with outstanding global reputations and several prestigious central academic bodies and activities.