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We welcome applications to undertake research towards MPhil and PhD degrees in a range of areas of Education.

Research in Education at Worcester has grown significantly in the last 10 years as the University itself has expanded. As a research student you will join a vibrant student community in our Research School and become part of our dynamic and engaged research student body in Education. 



School of Education

The School of Education has a strong mix of academics with a high degree of professional and personal experience, enabling you to get the most out of your programme. Our staff have expertise in, amongst other things, learning and teaching in different contexts; values education; professional learning and professional development; history of education; religious education; and special and inclusive education.

Entry requirements

What qualifications will you need?

Entry qualifications

For MPhil

  • First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree or an approved equivalent award


  • Research or professional experience which has resulted in appropriate evidence of achievement

For PhD

  • Postgraduate Masters Degree in a discipline which is appropriate to the proposed programme of study


  • First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree or equivalent award in an appropriate discipline


  • Research or professional experience at postgraduate level which has resulted in published work, written reports or other appropriate evidence of achievement

International applicants

International applicants will be required to demonstrate that they have the appropriate level of written and spoken English.

For MPhil/PhD this is an IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum score of 6.0 in every component.

Course content

What will you study?

PhD year by year

After receiving your application, we try to establish if we have the necessary expertise to supervise your project and we begin to form a supervisory team for you. This will normally consist of a Director of Studies (DoS), who will be your lead supervisor, and at least one other second supervisor, who will offer you additional support and guidance throughout your studies. If, following a successful interview, you are offered a place as a full-time student, your programme of study will look something like this:

First year

You will have submitted a draft research outline with your application. In your first six months, you will be working towards submitting a more complete research proposal, we call this an RDB1 Proposal. You will be aided in preparing for this by engaging with a 20-credit masters level module RTP401: Developing and Managing Your Research, and by meeting with your supervisory team to discuss your progress. You will meet with your supervisory team for 30 hours a year and this can be face-to-face or via Skype. Students who have not taken a recent research methods module in a relevant area will normally undertake a second module in their first year, in research methods. At the end of each year, beginning with your first year, you will work with your supervisors on completing a progress report, which we call an RDB7.

Second year

In your second year, you will be collecting data and working on your research project, under the supervision of your supervisors through regular meetings. In your second semester you will take a module titled RTP402: Dissemination, Impact and Engagement, which will help you begin to think about these three core themes. You may at this point have research papers ready to publish and you may wish to attend conferences to present your research to other experts in your field. You will be able to apply to our Research Student Support Scheme for some funding for this purpose (LINK). Students normally undergo Transfer from MPhil to PhD towards the end of their second year. At Transfer (RDB2), you will submit one to two chapters of your thesis and deliver a presentation to a question panel of experienced researchers.

Third and fourth year

In your third and fourth year, you will be writing up your thesis and preparing for your viva voce examination. This is an oral exam with two external examiners and a chair. You can also request that your supervisor be present at the exam. The exam will take place after you have submitted your final thesis. After the exam, it is not unusual for the examiners to ask that some minor amendments be made to your thesis before the final award is confirmed and you will have additional time to do this. It is possible to complete the course in three years, but we have found that the majority of students do take four years to complete the course.

Part time students follow the same structure as full time students but complete the PhD over a maximum period of six years.


Students are allocated a pathway appropriate to their research experience and background.

Students without a previous research degree will normally be allocated Pathway 1. This means you will need to engage with all of the modules outlined above and undertake associated assignments. These modules will lead to the additional award of PG Cert in Research Methods at no additional cost.

Students with a previous research degree will normally be allocated Pathway 2 and this will mean they will not be required to engage with the taught elements of the course to the same extent as students on Pathway 1. We do still recommend that they attend all of the workshops, for example, but they would not need to submit the associated assignments. Students on Pathway 2 may request to switch to Pathway 1 at the start of their course, with approval of their supervisory team.

Regardless of Pathway, the Researcher Development team organize a range of workshops that all students will be invited to attend.

Supervision areas

How will you be supervised?

Benefit from a professional and challenging relationship with your supervisory team, drawn from experienced academics working at the forefront of their disciplines.

Supervision areas

The School of Education has a strong mix of academics with a high degree of professional and personal experience, enabling you to get the most out of your programme. Our staff have expertise in, amongst other things, learning and teaching in different contexts; values education; professional learning and professional development; history of education; religious education; and special and inclusive education.

Recent successful projects have involved research on a non-authoritarian approach to secondary school pedagogy; enhancing trainee teachers’ confidence and subject knowledge of primary school drama; and Kenyan teachers’ professional identity in the context of educational change. Some of the topic currently being explored by research students are: broadcast collective worship for schools at the BBC; leadership work in further education; and how the educational experiences of Muslim young women affect their life choices. In contrast, our newest Education MPhil/PhD student is evaluating SENCo perceptions of education, health and care plans.


Access to the University of Worcester’s virtual resources and its state of the art library facilities.


Programme specification

For comprehensive details on the aims and intended learning outcomes of the course, and the means by which these are achieved through learning, teaching and assessment, please download the latest programme specification document for the MPhil or PhD.


Please click on the name of the supervisor to follow a link to their webpage. We recommend contacting a potential supervisor with your research outline before submitting a formal application, please read our guidelines for writing your research outline first.  Please only contact one supervisor. If another supervisor is better suited to your project, we will redirect your query.

Dr Karen Blackmore
Expertise: science related pedagogy and andragogy particularly with respective to pioneering and mobile technology enhanced learning strategies; emergent teacher professional identity of pre-service teachers with a focus on fostering research informed teaching practice; learning and teaching innovations in the area of conceptually challenging cognition.

Self-funded project: Primary Identities in Science and Mathematics (PrISM) project
Self-funded project: ‘Positive Higher Education’: The Role of Universities in Developing Character Strengths and Wellbeing
Self-funded project: The Role of Staffrooms in Early Career Teacher Interactions, Relationships and Wellbeing

Dr Sean Bracken 
Expertise: leadership of learning and teaching; inclusivity in higher, secondary and primary education; linguistic and cultural diversity.

Self-funded project: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education

Professor Jaswinder Dhillon 
Expertise: the perspectives of students, lecturers, senior leaders and managers in educational organisations, particularly in relation to policies and initiatives that aim to improve existing practice; partnerships and partnership working, social capital, students’ experience of higher education; and qualitative research in organisations, families and communities.

Professor Geoffrey Elliott 
Expertise: work-based research; Higher Education access and inclusion; education and social change; post-compulsory education; educational leadership.

Dr Peter Gossman 
Expertise: higher education pedagogy, conceptions of teaching, SoTL, learning gain, and academic development.

Self-funded project: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education

Dr Colin Howard 
Expertise: teachers’ sense of professional identity and professional resilience; how the physical environment of a school can influence the motivation, morale and job satisfaction of teaching professionals.

Dr Sue Howarth 
Expertise: biology education; science education; Initial Teacher Education (Secondary); the importance of effective practical work, including dissection and field work, in science education; continuing professional development for science teachers; STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Enrichment and Enhancement.

Dr Pinky Jain
Expertise: primary mathematics; mathematics pedagogy; mathematical difficulties and anxiety; considering the role of talk in mathematics; experiential learning; mathematical thinking and reasoning skills; mathematical prior knowledge; professional development and teachers mathematical subject knowledge and International comparative studies.

Professor Alison Kington 
Expertise: professional identity of educational practitioners; teacher careers/professional life phases; teacher peer relationships/collegiality; classroom behaviours and interaction; teacher-pupil relationships; and, child peer relationships/friendships.

Self-funded project: Primary Identities in Science and Mathematics (PrISM) project
Self-funded project: The Role of Staffrooms in Early Career Teacher Interactions, Relationships and Wellbeing

Professor Stephen Parker 
Expertise: the religious history of education in the 19th and 20th century; religious education in a variety of contexts; history of education; history of childhood; media history; religions and society; theology and education.

Professor Maggi Savin-Baden 
Expertise: the effectiveness of learning in new electronic and immersive spaces; innovative and creative scenarios designed for learning.

Dr Carla Solvason 
Expertise: concepts of educational justice and exploring policy in practice; educational cultures and re/creating cultures; social justice; educational opportunity; philosophy of education; children’s language development.

Dr Marie Stephenson 
Expertise: leadership, theory & practice; ethical leadership & ethical decision-making; qualitative research; pedagogic innovation; and educational leadership.

Dr Philip Woodward 
Expertise: aspects of the sociology of education.

Dr Richard Woolley 
Expertise: diversity, equality and inclusion issues in education; approaches to difficult and controversial issues in primary education; citizenship and PSHE in primary education; relationships and sex education (primary); religious education and children’s spirituality; the pedagogy of Holocaust education in the primary year education studies; widening participation, first generation and non-traditional students in higher education


Dr Karen Blackmore

Karen has always found science fascinating; one of her earliest memories is of watching rain drops hitting a window pane. What determined which one reached the bottom of the window pane first? Was it the size of the rain drop or where it landed? This initial childhood curiosity fuelled a lifetime interest in science.

Karen pursued her scientific education in the beautiful city of Bath, answering slightly more complex scientific problems but still with the same level of fascination. She then forged a career in the pharmaceutical industry as a Senior Research Scientist. One of the most fulfilling aspects of this role was acting as a mentor to Masters students. Years later this prompted her to cross-train in the education sector as a secondary science teacher. 

As a Learning and Teaching Fellow and Science Mentor at the University of Worcester , Karen hopes to meld her passion for science with a deep reaching interest in how people learn.


Professor Jaswinder K Dhillon

ORCID| LinkedIn

Jaswinder joined the university as a Professor of Education in January 2015, having previously worked in a range of teaching, research and leadership roles in further and higher education. Her research has investigated the experiences and perspectives of students, teachers and managers, particularly in contexts implementing initiatives to improve access and achievement in education. 

Jaswinder is passionate about research and research-informed professional practice and has extensive experience of teaching and supervising research students in the UK and internationally.


Professor Geoffrey Elliot

Geoffrey Elliott has taught in comprehensive schools, further, adult and higher education, and has undertaken a range of leadership roles during his career.  He is President of the Association for Research in Post-Compulsory Education, and serves on the Board of the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education. He edits the international peer reviewed journal Research in Post-Compulsory Education, and is currently Professor of Post-Compulsory Education at the University of Worcester specialising in education policy and lifelong learning.


Dr Peter Gossman

Peter has worked in a range of FE and HE institutions in the UK and NZ in both Education and Academic Development roles, initially at Lincoln University just four songs south of Christchurch on the South Island.

He has worked on a large NZ project investigating the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning as well as publishing on a variety of subjects, particularly in relation to 'good' teaching and conceptions of teaching and he has published in a range of academic journals.


Dr Colin Howard

Dr Colin Howard has been involved in primary education for 24 years of which over 14 years has been as a successful headteacher in both small village and large primary settings. He has a strong research background in educational leadership and the influence that school buildings have upon their stakeholders. He currently inspects schools for the Diocese of Hereford as a S48 SIAMS Inspector.


Professor Alison Kington

PhD, CPsychol, AFBPsS, FRSA


ResearchGate| Twitter|LinkedIn

Since completing a PhD at the University of Bristol in 2001, Alison has worked in a number of research roles including Senior Research Officer at the National Foundation for Educational Research and Senior Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham, and has gained extensive experience of, and expertise in, designing and conducting mixed methods research in education and social psychology. Her research, which is cross-disciplinary in its theoretical and methodological approaches, focuses on the nature, quality and dynamics of educational relationships and identities, and she has a particular interest in the influence of teacher identity and career phase on classroom relationships and interactions. 

Stephen Parker 2

Professor Stephen G Parker

ORCID | Research Gate | LinkedIn | Twitter    

Professor Stephen Parker is Professor of the History of Religion and Education, Course Leader MPhil/PhD programmes, and lead in the School of Education towards REF2021. He is co-convenor of the Religion and Society Research Interest Group, a cross-university collaborative research initiative with Worcester Cathedral.

Stephen researches the history of education in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and is particularly interested in how religious communities have sought to shape education policy and curricula over time. He is interested in how children have been taught to understand their own faith; how adults have sought to form children’s religious, civic and cultural identities; and how children have experience and respond to the educational initiatives of adults in these areas.


Professor Maggi Savin-Baden

As someone who has always been interested in innovation and change Maggi's interest in learning this has been the focus of her research for many years. Her previous research is focussed on the impact of virtual worlds on learning and teaching, through a large Leverhulme-funded project.

Maggi has researched and evaluated staff and student experience of learning for over 20 years and gained funding (Leverhulme Trust, JISC,) to research the effectiveness of learning in new electronic and immersive spaces. She is an experienced evaluator not only of curricula but also of research and research methodologies and an expert in the development of innovative and creative scenarios designed for learning.

She has published over 50 research publications and 15 books, and am currently writing 2 more.

Visit Maggi's Blog


Dr Carla Solvason

In Carla's current role as senior lecturer at the University of Worcester her key area of responsibility is around the area of research. This involves ensuring that student practitioners are given the support that they need to carry out worthwhile research projects, but also encouraging colleagues to reach their full research potential. Her key research interest is the topic of ethicality and how we can embed this within professional development and caring research. With her colleague, Rosie Walker, she has co-authored a book to support Early Years practitioners in their research projects, which is now the key text for students on the course.


Dr Marie Stephenson

Marie joined the Centre for Education & Inclusion in 2014 and brings extensive teaching experience from the post-compulsory (FE) sector. Marie has a number of specialisms, which include teaching the visually impaired, having spent a number of years designing and delivering courses at the Royal National College for the Blind.

In addition to teaching here at the University of Worcester, Marie also spent time in the USA, delivering on the Executive Leadership Doctoral Program at the George Washington University, Graduate School of Education & Human Development.


Dr Philip Woodward

Philip is the Course Leader for the MA Education. He joined the School of Education at Worcester in 2015, as a Senior Lecturer in Education. He brings extensive experience from both further and higher education.

In the higher education sector, Philip spent twelve years as an Associate Lecturer for The Open University working on a range of multidisciplinary social science courses. He has also contributed to the University of Greenwich Initial Teacher Education programme as an Associate Lecturer.

In the further education sector Philip spent nineteen years teaching Sociology in colleges in both London and Southampton on a range of courses. He also has extensive experience of managing curriculum teams, UCAS applications and pastoral provision.


Where could it take you?

All research students must engage with the Researcher Development Programme (RDP), a core curriculum of training and development which provides them with the general and subject-specific knowledge, skills and behaviours to support them in the completion of their research degree. At the beginning of an MPhil/PhD degree, you will be allocated to one of two pathways depending on your experience and knowledge as a researcher. This will determine which elements of the programme are core and which are optional. At the beginning of the programme you will be required to complete a Training Needs Analysis (TNA) in conjunction with your Director of Studies. This identifies the training that you will need to undertake, in addition to the mandatory elements of RDP, in order to complete the programme and to become an effective researcher. This TNA is revisited at the beginning of each subsequent academic year. All students are offered a wide range of optional training workshops throughout the programme focused around the following themes:

  • Developing and Managing Your Research
  • Dissemination, Impact, Engagement
  • Completing Your Research Degree
  • Research Methodology Master classes
  • Data Analysis
  • Research Funding
  • Wellbeing and Personal Effectiveness
  • Careers and Employability
  • Enterprise and Entrepreneurship

How much will it cost?


The current fees can be found within the tuition fees document on our figure out finances page.


Finding the right accommodation is paramount to your university experience. Our halls of residence are home to friendly student communities, making them great places to live and study.

We have over 1,000 rooms across our range of student halls. With rooms to suit every budget and need, from our 'Traditional Hall' at £108 per week to 'En-suite Extra' at £184 per week (2021/22 prices).

For full details visit our accommodation page.

How to apply

How do you apply?

Additional information

As part of the application process, you will be asked to submit a research outline. We recommend preparing your research outline before beginning your online application. Some guidance on preparing your research outline is available here.

If your research involves working with vulnerable adults and/or children then you may be required to obtain a DBS check. There will be a small charge for this. For more information please contact

We are committed to making reasonable adjustment. If you require an alternative format for making your application due to a disability, please contact us to discuss your needs on 01905 542182 or

How to apply

Please make your application via our online application form. If you have any questions, please contact the Research School on 01905 542182 or

Before you submit a full application, please contact Prof. Stephen Parker ( to discuss your research project and the availability of appropriate supervision.

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Get in touch

Professor Stephen G Parker