MPhil/PhD Education

Duration MPhil: Full time 2-3 years; Part time 4-5 years
PhD: Full time 3-4 years; Part time 6-7 years
  • Education
LocationExeter (St Luke‘s)
Start date September or January


A PhD in Education from the University of Exeter will enable you to gain an in-depth grounding in educational research methods through ESRC recognised training. As an MPhil/PhD level student you will become part of a research-intensive Graduate School, studying with some of the leading scholars in their disciplines.

You will benefit from holistic support including content and methodologies relevant to your research, as well as the opportunity for a personal mentor. Research students are integrated into the research culture and welcome to participate in the School’s annual staff-student conference, external conferences and the School’s research seminar series.

We embrace a considerable variety of research activity, from large-scale externally funded programmes to small-scale collaborations with local teachers. Many of these involve links with leading researchers worldwide.

Because of our size and the fact that we are not wedded to any one research paradigm, we can offer research supervision in many areas of educational research. We are one of only 31 educational research training outlets recognised by the ESRC and one of only 18 to receive ESRC studentship quota awards. We are also the only recognised outlet for four-year PhD (full- and part-time), distance learning and CASE research training.

There are three routes to a PhD available:

Four-Year PhD

This is the recommended route for students with little research training or experience in educational (or social science) research. You can apply directly for the Four-Year PhD which includes as its first year the MSc in Educational Research.


With this route, you register for an MPhil and follow some research training, without undertaking assessment, in the first year.  This is currently 1 or 2 research training modules according to previous experience.

PhD direct entry

The PhD direct entry route is only available for students who have already completed our MSc in Educational Research or a similar programme and may apply to register directly onto the three-year PhD.

The following diagram may help to determine which route is best for you.


My favourite thing about studying a PhD has to do with much more self-discovery. It is been said that life begins when you step out of your comfort zone. I believe that the PhD is a great opportunity towards achieving a self-understanding. I hope also that by the end of the journey that I will approach this understanding more. 

There are many reasons behind my choice of the University of Exeter but I will highlight two. Firstly, the four-year PhD doctoral program includes the first year studying the Msc in Educational Research and exposing students to this broad based educational research methods and the different paradigms. The first year in the program has been a great experience for me as it will set me up much better for the research and the challenges that I will face during my future research.

Second, I preferred to conduct my research working with a real international community. Throughout the activities of the educational doctoral program at Exeter, I found myself discussing almost everything (academic/personal issues) around the same table with Palestinian, Chinese, English, Omani, Indonesian, Turkish, Malaysian and Saudi students. This has been a long life dream to me, as I’ve always been fascinated by the strengths that lies behind our differences and the belief that I hold that these differences are the only thing that make the world a much better place.

Chaima Mennai, PhD in Education (4-Year programme) .

Research areas

We encourage a vibrant, collaborative and interdisciplinary research culture within the Graduate School of Education, based around strategic areas of expertise.

Our international community of researchers has an excellent record of winning external funding, and our research centres provide structure and support, promoting collaboration and impact.

We are currently ranked sixth in the UK for world-leading and internationally excellent research in Education.

Key research areas

We have focused the key areas of our research around six distinct but interdisciplinary research centres:

We also nurture a number of smaller and less formal research networks, which augment and compliment our larger centres.

We have a group of enthusiastic high quality researchers who are committed to developing their own high quality research and high quality researchers of the future. Why not find out more about our research culture by reading about the experiences of some of our researchers?

If you are looking for a research supervisor or collaborator you can find out more about our individual staff here.


The Graduate School of Education has specialist facilities to support your studies, including one of Britain’s best Education libraries, a separate resources library, a print unit with full reprographic services and extensive IT facilities.

The School is well resourced in terms of research support.  Doctoral students are provided with a newly refurbished, modern Research Support Unit containing computers and other equipment, plus a variety of quiet work areas including allocated offices and 'drop in' space. The 'drop in' space is open to all postgraduate students, while allocated offices are only available to those in the research phase of their studies.

We also have a postgraduate common room which offers our postgraduate taught and research students a place to socialise and relax in a peaceful environment.

The St Luke’s Campus has its own restaurant, cafeteria, bar, indoor swimming pool, two gymnasia, including an advanced conditioning studio, and grass volleyball/tennis courts for summer use.


Our postgraduate programmes are designed to give you career progression in your specialist educational area of choice. On completion, you will be equipped with a range of academic, personal and professional skills.

In addition to the College's Employability Officer, Career Zone gives access to a wealth of business contacts, support and training as well as the opportunity to meet potential employers at our regular Careers Fairs.

Postgraduate research students can access our Postgraduate Researchers' Programme, which covers a range of topics for a successful research degree and acts as a springboard for a research career.

Opportunities for Teaching

We are committed to providing opportunities for research students to teach if this is appropriate to your professional development and to the needs of our programmes.

Entry requirements 2018

You will normally be expected to have obtained a first degree equivalent to at least a UK 2:1 Honours degree in a relevant area such as social sciences, humanities or management.

Our online learning resource 'Considering a UK PhD?' provides lots of helpful advice and information from staff and students about the PhD experience at Exeter.

You may wish to read our research programme application process page, which gives tips on how to put together a successful research degree application.

Applicants for research programmes are also advised to visit the College's webpages to check for specific advice (see further information link). Here you will be able to find out about staff research interests and make preliminary enquiries about supervision. We advise that you do this before applying.

Requirements for international students

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS (Academic)

Overall score 7.0 with a minimum score of 6.5 in the writing component and all other sections no less than 6.0.


Overall score 100 with minimum scores of 25 for writing, 21 for listening, 22 for reading and 23 for speaking.

Pearson Test of English (Academic)

65 with no less than 58 in all communicative skills.

Other accepted tests

Information about other acceptable tests of linguistic ability can be found on our English language requirements page.

Pre-sessional English

Applicants with lower English language test scores may be able to take pre-sessional English at INTO University of Exeter prior to commencing their programme. See our English language requirements page for more information.

Finance: fees and funding

Tuition fees per year 2018/19

  • UK/EU: £4,400 full-time; £2,200 part-time
  • International: £16,400 full-time


Our Postgraduate Funding webpage provides links to further information. If you are considering a PhD in the future, in addition to University of Exeter funding, we have been successful at securing postgraduate funding for PhD research through our Funded centres.

Funding opportunities

Find out about current funding opportunities for our research programmes.

Fee information

Fees can normally be paid by two termly instalments and may be paid online. For further information about paying fees see our Student Fees pages.

Contact us

The College of Social Sciences & International Studies has a dedicated Graduate Research School which is committed to supporting its vibrant postgraduate research student community.

The Graduate Research School helps to support both intellectual and social contact between graduates of different disciplines and from different backgrounds and countries. Our team supports both prospective and current postgraduate research students.

Phone: +44(0) 1392 724490
Web: Enquire online