School of Society and Culture

EdD Professional Doctorate in Education

If you are responsible for leading learning in your organisation, whether it’s a school, college, higher education institution or as an educator in the public or private sector, this doctoral-level programme is a fantastic opportunity to study education at a deep level and relate this back to your own practice. The EdD helps you expand your knowledge and understanding of how education works and allows you to transform your own practice.

Key features

The Professional Doctorate in Education enables you to:
  • Focus your attention on the nature of educational practice itself. Approach education in its broadest sense. Study and theorise the nature of your work from a social perspective - then relate this back to your own practice.
  • Engage with a range of new ideas with which to re-think educational practice on a carefully organised course with a clear structure based on a social perspective on education.
  • Study on a flexible and work-friendly programme that has been structured to fit around your existing commitments. You will study part time over five years (two years of taught modules and three years of thesis) but you can take up to six years if you need to.
  • Begin to engage with new educational theory at the University-based sessions. Participate in lively discussions and share ideas with others on your course in seminars, lectures and workshops.
  • Access a wide range of support and resources to fuel your independent study. Draw on books, journals and an online environment where you will communicate with and draw support from your peers and from staff with a long history of excellence in professional development.
  • Meet and share ideas with others in your cohort from a range of disciplines. Tap into this diversity to compare the interrelationship between policy and practice across different educational areas and institutions.
  • Make your mark on the future of education as part of our learning community where you can link into active and renowned research networks. Find out more about Research within the Institute of Education.
  • Attend our annual postgraduate research conference and present your ongoing ideas in a supportive environment.

Course details

  • Part one, year 1 and 2

  • Part one is the modular stage of the programme and spans two years. You cover four modules, including evidence and education policy, professional learning, researching education practice as social research and the thesis proposal. These modules are assessed by written assignments and presentations. They are fitting for a research community, such as: a paper for submission to a journal; a conference paper with associated presentation and rationale; a small-scale research project to explore methodological issues; or a traditional essay.
    Core modules
    Evidence and Education Policy (EDD801)
    Students will consider the influence of policy discourses on the education aspects of their particular professional disciplines. Discourses will be compared over time and across professional and cultural contexts. Evidence for policy development and implementation will be examined. The ways in which various groups are privileged and marginalised by different discourses will be considered, as will the links between policy, systems, working practices and professional identities
    Professional Learning (EDD802)
    This module critically evaluates models of professionalism and professional learning set within the context of theories of expertise. It argues that for genuine organisational improvement, strategies and approaches must evolve from practitioners themselves. Models, approaches and the many issues surrounding practitioner research are explored
    Researching Educational Practice as Social Research (EDD803)
    Students will develop a theoretical frame for their doctoral research by looking at social theories and their ontological and epistemological basis and relating them to the field in which they are and their own research interests. They will consider how and why people do research and examine methodologies, approaches and methods, particularly in an applied practitioner research context. Students develop skills to design, conduct, analyse, write up and critically evaluate research.
    Professional Doctorate in Education Thesis Proposal (EDD804)
    The focus of this module is the preparation of a project proposal which identifies the area of study and methodology for students’ thesis research. Students build on their own work on the programme thus far to develop a plan for a project which has the conceptual and methodological potential to generate new knowledge at the forefront of the discipline.
  • Part two, from year 3

  • Part two is the thesis stage of the programme and spans up to three years. You stay connected with termly workshops during the first years of part two, then, in the final year, you present a thesis of up to 50,000 words, assessed through a viva voce exam. The thesis comprises a substantial piece of original research into an area of practice of your own choosing, through which you make an original contribution to knowledge.

Every postgraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the programme aims, the programme structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest programme structure and may be subject to change:

Professional Doctorate in Education Programme Specification 23 24 7705

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.

Entry requirements

You will normally be expected to have successfully completed a masters degree. You should also be working in a professional context where you are responsible for supporting learning. However, all applications will be considered on an individual basis.
You will need to be able to demonstrate the following:
  • The potential to study at doctoral level. This would normally be indicated by successful completion of a Masters degree, but in exceptional cases may be through successful completion of a task set by the admissions tutor(s).
  • An ability to work collaboratively in exploring and developing experience and ideas.
  • That you are working in a professional context where you are responsible for supporting learning. Candidates not currently working in a professional context, but with appropriate and sufficiently extensive experience, may be considered at the discretion of the admissions tutor(s). If you are in professional practice but, in the opinion of the admissions team, do not yet have sufficient or appropriate experience to draw on, you may be deemed ineligible.
  • A strong commitment to educational enquiry and the ability to reflect critically on practice, as a means of professional learning.
The following points will also be taken into account in selecting candidates:
  • Accreditation for prior certificated learning (APCL) will be considered up to 120 credits and normally only for work completed at doctoral level within the last five years.
  • Accreditation for prior experiential learning (APEL) may, exceptionally, be considered. This will be done in the line with the guidance in the programme and University regulations.
If you are an overseas applicant you can check the compatibility of your qualifications with the UK equivalent through , who provide an advisory service.
English language requirement
If your first language is not English then evidence of English proficiency is required. The level of proficiency that is required can vary with the type of programme for which you are applying. For further advice on the appropriateness of overseas qualification and proficiency in the use of English, please contact our International Office.
The minimum IELTS score for acceptable English proficiency for entry is normally 6.5.

Fees, costs and funding

Please visit tuition fees and postgraduate research for information about fees.
Please visit our postgraduate research money matters page to find out more about issues related to fees, funding, loans and paying for your programme of study.

How to apply

Initial contact

For an initial discussion about the EdD programme please email the admission team research.degree.admissions@plymouth.ac.uk. Administrative staff will be happy to respond to your enquiry and will redirect you to academic staff where appropriate.

How the application process works

All applications for the Professional Doctorate in Education in the Plymouth Institute of Education are processed via our Doctoral College. To make a formal application you need to complete our .

With your application form you need to include two academic references, evidence of a minimum IELTS score of 6.5, if English is not your first language, and a personal statement.
When you are ready to apply please complete the application form for postgraduate study, which you can find on our applicants and enquirers page.
The application form is largely self-explanatory but requires you to write a personal statement/research proposal. For the EdD you can write as you choose, but please include information about the following:
  • Why you are interested in the EdD and its focus on professional practice and, specifically, why you are interested in it over and above a PhD.
  • What the focus of your research is likely to be. Note that we do not expect you to know this in detail at this stage, and you will be able to refine/alter the focus later, under guidance. However, candidates will only be accepted on the basis that we are able to supervise their likely topic effectively. Please take time to look at the Institute of Education web pages, which will give you an idea of the areas we support.
  • Your current professional situation and what it is about this situation that makes it mutually compatible with the EdD.
  • Why, and how, you think you are capable of undertaking work at doctoral level (showing what you understand this to imply) and of undertaking a large piece of original research.
  • Your application should help us to know whether you are capable of working at the level that the EdD demands, that you are willing to become part of a cohort of mutually supportive professionals and that you are able to commit yourself sufficiently to what is an exciting, but very demanding and time-consuming endeavour, over an extended period of time.
Coastal Processes Research Group Perranporth beach

Sasha Pleasance – EdD student

The programme tutors challenge you to think about education in a multitude of ways which challenge any preconceptions you might have and give you new ways to conceptualise issues
Sasha Pleasance - EdD graduate

Teaching staff - Professional Doctorate in Education (EdD)