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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

Entry requirements

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.

Programme structure

Programme structure

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 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 year, you will be working towards submitting a more complete research proposal. You will be aided in your research by meeting with your supervisory team to discuss your progress. You will also be supported through your first year by engaging with a series of three modules as part of our Researcher Development Programme:

  • RSDP4001: Developing as a Researcher
  • RSDP4005: Approaches to Research
  • RSDP4004: Planning Your Research Project

At the end of each year, beginning with your first year, you will reflect on and formally review your progress with your supervisory team and MPhil/PhD Course Leader. We call this annual meeting an Annual Progress Review (APR).

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. 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. Students normally undergo Transfer from MPhil to PhD towards the end of their second year. This will be part of your Annual Progress Review for this year.

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 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 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. At the end of each year of your registration, you will go through an Annual Progress Review.


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.

Part time students follow the same structure as full-time students but normally complete the PhD over a period of five to six years. Part-time students take two modules in each of their first two years, and will normally Transfer to PhD in their fourth year.

Research areas

Research areas

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.


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: ‘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.

Rachael Paige
Expertise: teacher presence and teacher identity, leadership in educational contexts particularly relational leadership, developing positive school communities, positive behaviour approaches in primary schools, collaborative approaches including communities of practice.

Professor Alison Kington
Expertise: educational identities of teachers and pupils, teacher careers and retention, teacher/collective self-efficacy, classroom behaviours and interaction, teacher-pupil relationships, peer relationships in the classroom/friendships, and children's socio-cognitive development

Methodological expertise includes: mixed and merged methods, repertory grid techniques, critical event (and other) narrative approaches, observational techniques

Self-funded project: The Role of Staffrooms in Early Career Teacher Interactions, Relationships and Wellbeing

Alison would welcome enquiries regarding further study in the following areas:

  • educational identities of teachers and pupils
  • teacher careers and retention
  • teacher/collective self-efficacy
  • classroom behaviours and interaction
  • teacher-pupil relationships
  • peer relationships in the classroom/friendships
  • children's socio-cognitive development

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 Alexander Sewell
Dr Alexandra Sewell is a HCPC registered educational psychologist with an independent practice, and a senior lecturer in Special Educational Needs, Disability, and Inclusion. She has experience supervising two current PhD students at the University of Worcester. Expressions of interest are welcomed regarding further study in the following areas:

  • Applied, practice-based research investigating inclusive educational practice (all developmental/educational levels)
  • Applied, practice-based research exploring special educational needs
  • Qualitative research exploring the lived/living experience of mental health
  • Inclusive voice practices (including pupil voice, parent/carer voice, teacher/practitioner voice)
  • Research of any methodology seeking to further interest in and understanding of neurodiversity/neurodivergence
  • Social-emotional and/or social-skill development
  • Practice-based research focusing on the role of educational psychologists
  • Practice-based research exploring supporting the education of parents for pre-conception, birth, and the critical first 1000 days of life.

Dr Elizabeth Russell
Expertise: lives and identities in education; teachers and schooling; higher education; social justice; religious education; oral history; interpretivist research.

Dr Mandy Duncan

Expertise: sociological perspectives of childhood, global perspectives of childhood, children’s rights, children’s participation in child protection interventions, early childhood, social research methods.


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.

Geoffrey Elliott

Professor Geoffrey Elliot

Geoffrey has worked at the University for 25 years, with responsibility for a number of areas including Access and Widening Participation, Lifelong Learning, Research and Knowledge Transfer. His research interests and published outputs include work on the student learning experience, ethics in education, impacts of education policy in the UK, and college based higher education. Before joining the University he worked as a teacher in schools, further education and adult education as well as spells with the University of East London and as a Communications and Training Consultant.

At Worcester Geoffrey has held Executive roles with responsibility for widening participation, regional engagement and educational partnerships, and chaired the Research Degrees Board for five years. He is chair of the UK Association for Research in Post-Compulsory Education, and has been Editor-in-Chief of the international peer refereed journal Research in Post-Compulsory Education since its launch in 1995. He is an accredited mediator and has been closely involved in community and educational projects in London and the West Midlands over the last 40 years.


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.


Professor Alison Kington

PhD, CPsychol, AFBPsS, FRSA


ResearchGate| Twitter|LinkedIn

Alison joined the Institute of Education at the University of Worcester in 2012 and became Professor in Psychology of Education in 2014. She has worked in a number of research roles and has gained extensive experience of, and expertise in, designing and conducting mixed (and merged) methods research.

Her research, which is cross-disciplinary in its theoretical and methodological approaches, focuses on the nature, quality and dynamics of educational relationships and identities, with particular interest in the influence of teacher and pupil characteristics on social interactions within the classroom.

Stephen Parker

Professor Stephen G Parker

ORCID | Research Gate | LinkedIn | Twitter    

Professor Stephen Parker is Professor of Education and Religious History, 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 religion and education in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He is particularly interested in how religious communities have sought to shape education policy and curricula over time; 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 experienced and responded to the educational initiatives of adults in these areas.

Carla Solvason 2

Dr Carla Solvason

Dr Carla Solvason came to the University of Worcester in 2008 having previously worked as a primary teacher for twelve years, an advisor for a children’s communication charity and a writer/ researcher.

She has led on a wide range of modules, including parent partnership, language development, study skills, and special educational needs. Over recent years her teaching has increasingly focused upon preparing students to carry out ethical practitioner research and preparing final year students for the professional responsibilities of leadership in practice. Carla also delivers CPD in supporting children with speech and language difficulties.

Carla is an active researcher and has published widely over the past ten years, particularly in the areas of ethical practitioner research and parent partnership. She has carried out longitudinal, funded studies on supporting language development in primary schools, the role of collaborative leadership clusters in primary schools, and the impact of Maintained Nursery Schools.

Marie Stephenson

Dr Marie Stephenson

Marie joined the Department for Education & Inclusion in 2014 and brings extensive teaching experience from the post-compulsory (FE) sector. Marie has several specialisms, which include teaching the visually impaired, having spent a few years designing and delivering courses at the Royal National College for the Blind. She teaches on undergraduate & post graduate courses in the Department for Education & Inclusion and is pathway lead for the MA in Education (Leadership & Management). 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.

Marie holds a master’s degree in Educational Leadership & Management and a doctorate in Education. Her doctoral thesis concerned “Ethical decision-making: Learning from Prominent Leaders in Not-for-Profit Organisations”. The research has provided many insights into the ethical leader mindset, particularly how such leaders maintain their moral compass in morally intense situations in value expressive organisations (contexts). The contribution adds to the field by linking individual ethical awareness, with that of the organization and as corollary, society. The concepts of responsibility, trust and ethics are shown to be perpetually interwoven.


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.



All students engage with our Researcher Development Programme (RDP). The RDP aims to develop and enhance the skills, both generic and specific, that you will need to complete your research degree but also to become an effective researcher. The RDP is organised around thematic clusters, consisting of modules, and workshops, delivered face-to-face by subject specialists from across the University and the dedicated Researcher Development Team, or online through our virtual learning environment.

As part of the RDP, you will complete a Postgraduate Certificate in Research Methods (PG Cert). All students must complete the PG Cert in order to progress on their MPhil/PhD Programme. The PG Cert is strongly focused on developing your programme of research, starting from establishing your development needs, and preparing you for the planning and subsequent delivery of your programme of research.

Full-time students will complete the PG Cert in 12 months and part-time students in 24 months.

Ben Looker

Ben Looker

Dr Ben Looker spent six years looking at challenging behaviour and how it manifested itself, developing a theory to resolve it, to complete his Doctor of Education (EdD). Having ensured these learnings are in the curriculum to benefit the University’s Education students, Dr Looker, a Principal Lecturer in Secondary Science Education at the University, has now graduated.

“It’s a bit of a relief, but also it feels good to have done something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” he said. “I’m proud of the theory. Hopefully as teachers graduate and take this learning into Worcester schools we’ll get an increasingly greater depth of knowledge about teacher-pupil relationships, so potentially it’s quite wide reaching.”

Dr Looker taught at schools in the Birmingham area for 11 years, first as a science teacher and then an Assistant Headteacher at The Kingswinford Academy for three years. During that time, he provided mentorship for a number of the University’s students, which led him to take up a position as a lecturer alongside his EdD research. “I was always interested in children who presented with bad behaviour, but behaved really well for some teachers,” he said. “I wanted to look at these children who were essentially alienated from their learning in some lessons - what made the relationship with teachers positive or negative.”


Fees and funding


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 'Chestnut Halls' at £131 per week to 'Oak Halls' at £221 per week (2024/25 prices).

For full details visit our accommodation page.

How to apply

How to 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 an Enhanced 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

Information about application and interview deadlines

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 Course Leader Dr Sean Bracken ( to discuss your research project and the availability of appropriate supervision.

January start

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September start

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Get in touch

Dr Seán Bracken

Course leader