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PHD – University of Reading

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  • Part of SENSS doctoral training partnership

    ESRC-funded South East Network for Social Science DTP includes a specific Education pathway

  • Impressive track record of doctoral completion

    A high proportion complete with four years full-time (or equivalent)

  • Transforming lives through education

    Become an outstanding educational practitioner


As a postgraduate research student at the Institute of Education at the University of Reading, you will be part of a vibrant and diverse research community, working alongside leading experts within education.

We have a long and established track record of research excellence and international impact. In the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), 80% of our research was rated as world-leading or internationally excellent. As a research student with us, we encourage you to participate in the wide range of opportunities available to you at the Institute, and to engage with the important and often complex issues which arise in research within the field of education.


Research opportunities

Research in the Education, Language and Learning Research Division is grouped under two broad themes. If you would like to undertake a postgraduate research programme with us, we invite you to submit your proposal to one of these themes:

Modes of study

We offer flexible modes of study designed to fit with your needs. Our PhD typically takes 3 years of full-time study or 4-5 years on a part-time basis. Both full-time and part-time variants are available for study in Reading, as well as PhD by Distance.

PhD by Distance students spend the majority of their time at another site and normally have a supervisor/mentor at their local site. There must be an academic rationale for this status to be granted and the University assesses each application on an individual basis.

We also offer our PhD Plus programme, which is designed to meet the specific needs of overseas lecturers who want to study for a PhD while learning about higher education in the UK and improving their teaching skills.


You will be undertaking a number of generic research training modules as part of the Reading Researcher Development Programme (RRDP). In addition, all students take two research methods modules in the Institute of Education in their first year and may be taking further subject-specific training, for example as part of the SeNSS network.

The Graduate School

All postgraduate research students automatically become members of the University-wide Graduate School. The Graduate School's Reading Researcher Development Programme (RRDP) offers a rich array of training sessions and workshops which have been especially designed to help you gain the additional skills that will enable you to carry out your research professionally and effectively. The RRDP is delivered primarily using the expertise of academic and specialist staff within the University and complements any subject-specific training that we provide. The RRDP includes training sessions on research methods, writing academic papers, getting published, public engagement and career planning.

In addition to the RRDP, doctoral researchers will also have the chance to access the following development opportunities:

  • Preparing to teach
    A programme focused on the skills needed for teaching and learning activities.
  • Developing your potential as a leader
    This leadership programme is jointly run with the triple accredited Henley Business School.
  • Academic English Programme
    Supporting international students to develop their academic English skills with a range of classes and services.
  • PhD Plus
    A scheme designed to meet the specific needs of international lecturers who want to study for a PhD while improving their teaching skills and learning about higher education in the UK.
  • Careers

Our PhD students go on to work in academia as postdoctoral researchers, but also quickly find employment in widely varied fields with links to education in all its forms, be it scholastic, government policy, corporate, non-profit and public training strategy and all areas of the world that benefit from education in any format.

    "I've had an outstanding experience as a doctoral student in the Institute of Education. It is a bustling international community that I enjoyed being part of. I have been actively encouraged to take advantage of all opportunities to become a professional researcher through engagement not only with my own research but also with other students' of interest."

    Dr Tomasz John, former PhD student at the Institute of Education

    Fees and funding

    You can find out more about fees for University of Reading PhD programmes by clicking on the link below.


    Sources of funding

    At the Institute of Education, our PhD students come with a range of funding. Some students are funded through the ESRC SeNSS doctoral training partnership; some are funded through university scholarships (including international Research Studentships and regional scholarships); some are funded by their government; and some are self-funded.

    See the Graduate School fees and funding webpages for more information.

How to apply

    • Step one: Check our entry requirements

    To be accepted onto our doctoral programme, you will need to have achieved a high merit (a mark of 65 or more or equivalent), in a master's programme in a related discipline, or if you are applying for a 1+3 PhD (Masters plus PhD), you need to have achieved a high 2.1 (a mark of 65 or more or equivalent) in your undergraduate degree.

    If English is not your first language, you need to have achieved (or will have achieved before starting your PhD) a minimum IELTS score of 7.0 (with at least 6.5 in all subsections) or equivalent.

    For more information on entry requirements, visit our Graduate School website.

    • Step two: Select a topic

    If you have a clear idea about a research project of your choice, you should first determine whether the project is suitable for study at doctoral level. The project must also be feasible within the resources and timeframe available to you; it should also address a perceived 'gap' in the literature and, most importantly, be of interest to you. You can receive feedback by contacting the Institute of Education.

    • Step three: Identify 1-2 potential supervisors

    You can learn more about research interests of our potential supervisors from the list here. You will also need to provide a rationale (on the IoE PhD Research Proposal form ) for why you think these potential supervisors would be a good fit for your proposed research. Once you have submitted your application, we will consider your suggestions. If we agreed with your suggested potential supervisor(s) and if they have supervisory capacity, they will be asked to review your proposal.

    • Step four: Make an application

All applications must include a proposal of your intended research project including rationale, literature review, research question(s), design, methodology, and potential significance of the results. For more information on how to write a good PhD proposal, please view our PhD proposal guidelines (PDF - 266KB)  for a guide to writing a good PhD proposal. Your research proposal must not exceed 1,000 words in length.  See PhD Research Proposal form .

    ​Apply now

    Once you have read and considered all the detailed programme information, please use our online application service to apply for PhD study at the University of Reading.

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