Education MPhil/PhD

Distance learning programme

IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society offers world-leading doctoral programmes in education and related social science. Our Education (Online) MPhil/PhD distance learning students undertake their research project, working closely with their supervisor(s) online (e.g. using Teams/Zoom and email) to develop each stage of their research, whilst engaging in a tailored programme of online research training courses and activities available from the UCL Doctoral Skills Development Programme, IOE faculty’s Research Training Programme, the multi-institutional Bloomsbury Postgraduate Skills Network, and from other sources.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
£7,580
£3,790
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
£22,700
£11,350
Duration
3 calendar years
5 calendar years
Programme starts
Research degrees may start at any time of the year, but typically start in September.
Applications accepted
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Entry requirements

The normal minimum requirement is a Master’s degree from a UK university in a subject appropriate to the programme to be followed, or a qualification of equivalent standard appropriate to the programme to be followed awarded by a university (or educational institution of university rank) outside the UK. The majority of our successful applicants hold a Merit at Master’s level, and may have additional relevant experience. Students without a Master’s degree who have completed the UCL PGDip in Social Science Research Methods, obtaining a grade B or above in any two or more modules, may also be considered for admission to this programme.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 4

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level.

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

Equivalent qualifications

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

*Should you experience any issues with the drop-down below, try de-selecting the country and re-selecting it. If this doesn't work, then you may refer to this page which may help you find the same equivalencies - check the Entry requirements above beforehand. Please note the table is indicative only, revisiting when the dropdown is working to confirm is recommended.

About this degree

IOE has specialised, research-active staff who are able to supervise students in education and related social sciences, including leadership, management, and teaching and learning in all phases of education, from early years through schooling and post-compulsory education to professional and lifelong learning. Other areas include health, the life course and economics.

Who this course is for

The MPhil/PhD is for applicants with a strong interest in an aspect of educational and social research, which may be understood broadly across the life course, in relation to other subject areas and wider social, economic, political and cultural changes. You should normally have completed an MA to merit level and want to develop a specific area of research. You may have a background in education or a cognate area of study. It is suitable for both recent graduates and those progressed in a career.

What this course will give you

IOE is a world-leading centre for research in education and related social science. We host the UK's largest doctoral cohort in these areas. In the QS World University Rankings by Subject (2023), the Institute was ranked first for education for the tenth year running, ahead of Harvard, Stanford, Oxford and Cambridge. In the UK's recent Research Excellence Framework (2021), we were ranked first for research strength and research power in Education, according to the Elsevier REF 2021 Results Analysis Tool. We attract extensive research funding each year and host many prestigious research centres and projects.

There are no residency requirements and the programme has been designed to engage students in distance learning so it is not necessary to attend.

Students undertake their research project, working closely with their supervisor(s) online (e.g., using Teams/Zoom and email) to develop each stage of their research, whilst engaging in online research training courses modules and activities.

The viva examination takes place in-person at UCL or online. Students are welcome to visit and use campus facilities including the library, attend seminars etc.

The foundation of your career

Students gain experience of planning and implementing research methodologies, academic writing and presentation, management of their own research projects, and engagement with a wide range of researchers, practitioners, policymakers and other groups relevant to their chosen topic.

Employability

IOE doctoral graduates progress to a diverse range of careers in research, policy, management and practice, within education, cultural sectors and related areas of social science.

Networking

IOE is a leading centre for education and social science research. Students will have the opportunity to network with other doctoral students from around the world, as well as with world-leading academics within their field of study. The institute hosts several online seminar series as well as both national and international conferences. In addition, students are encouraged to take part in conferences elsewhere, expanding networking opportunities.

Teaching and learning

Distance learning students engage in independent learning supported through: (i) individualized online supervision (e.g., via Teams/Zoom and email) and (ii) peer group (cohort) learning through asynchronous and synchronous learning activities following a robust Online Research Training Programme (Online RTP). However, students are welcome to visit and use campus facilities to engage in in-person research training, access the library, attend seminars etc.

Education (Online) MPhil/PhD engages distance learning students in a robust Online Research Training Programme (Online RTP) to complement their individualized online supervision.

The Online RTP comprises of six `core' modules with asynchronous and synchronous learning activities introducing social science research in education.  Modules build students' critical perspective in: approaches to educational research, research and the theoretical field, research methods, qualitative and quantitative analytic procedures and academic writing and presentation.  Learning activities engage students in developing their doctoral research through independent study, peer group study and module tutor feedback.

Students with prior learning have flexibility in opting to engage in advanced online courses from the UCL Doctoral Skills Development Programme, IOE Research Training Programme, Bloomsbury Postgraduate Skills Network and other sources, as agreed with supervisors.

Full-time students typically study 2 modules per term over one year while part-time students study 1 module per term over two years.  Modules run for 4-9 weeks and are awarded 6-10 `training points'.  

Students also undertake two `core skills' courses to: (i) introduce UCL and IOE academic regulations, prepare for upgrade and ethics application and, (ii) enhance students' use of digital information and resources.  

Assessment is undertaken through completion of a thesis and viva examination. The maximum word length for a PhD degree thesis is 100,000 words. This includes footnotes, tables and figures but excludes bibliography, appendices and supporting data. In some instances, supervisors may wish to recommend a shorter length. Students should therefore consult with their supervisors on the length of theses in their subject area or topic, including the minimum length. The viva examination takes place in-person at UCL or online.

Education MPhil/PhD students engage in self-directed learning. Duration of full-time study is 3 years and part-time study is 5 years. Typically, full-time students engage in their doctoral studies for at least 35 hours a week, whilst part-time students engage in at least 15 hours a week.

Research areas and structure

Applicants to the IOE Education MPhil/PhD programme must apply to one of the six departments within the IOE: Culture, Communication and Media; Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment; Education, Practice and Society; Learning and Leadership; Psychology and Human Development; or the UCL Social Research Institute.

Applicants should look at the departmental websites to find out more information about the work of each department, and to identify one or more potential supervisors for their work. Even though applicants apply directly to the MPhil/PhD programmes in the department of their principal supervisor, the programme they follow once enrolled will be identical.

Research environment

You will have the opportunity to access to the wider UCL community. The Institute’s programme has been designed to provide comprehensive and broadly based research training and to meet the requirements of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the UK Researcher Development Framework.

As a research student at IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society you have the opportunity to participant in online seminar groups when engaging in distance learning as well as in-person seminar groups when visiting campus, along with seminars organised by research centres or according to interest groups.  This promotes collegiality and enriches learning.

The length of registration for the research degree programmes is 3 years for full-time.

You are required to register initially for the MPhil degree with the expectation of transfer to PhD after successful completion of an upgrade viva 9-18 months after initial registration.

Students undertake their research project, working closely with their supervisor(s) online (e.g., using Teams/Zoom and email) to develop each stage of their research, whilst engaging in online research training courses and activities.

IOE Centre for Doctoral Education provides an extensive Research Training Programme. Courses are available from the UCL Doctoral Skills Development Programme, IOE faculty’s Research Training Programme, the multi-institutional Bloomsbury Postgraduate Skills Network, and from other sources. The training offers a wide range of introductory, advanced methods, advanced theoretical, and generic non-credit bearing academic skills courses, as well as student led workshops and reading groups which you can attend.

A mandatory core course is provided online and in-person that aims to meet the needs of early-stage doctoral students. In addition, distance learning students are required to take six tailored online research training core modules (Approaches to Educational Research; Research and the Theoretical Field; Research Methods; Qualitative Data Analysis; Quantitative Data Analysis; Writing and Presenting Educational Research) in their first year of full-time study or first two years of part-time study, and are then able to choose from a selection of advanced online courses.

Full-time MPhil/PhD students are required to fulfil minimum 20 ‘points’ of training activity in their first year, and are encouraged to fulfil the same in their subsequent years of study. Each point is worth approximately a half-day of face-to-face training, or an online equivalent.

Other activities such as attending and presenting at conferences also count towards research training. Students may undertake additional training beyond these minima, as relevant to their research and/or as agreed with their supervisors.

You are expected to upgrade from MPhil to PhD status towards the end of your first year of study if full-time. Students whose performance is satisfactory will transfer from MPhil to PhD status.

Processes aimed at assisting you during your course of study include the Research Student Log (an online project management tool), and periodic reviews of students’ progress.

Upon successful completion of your approved period of registration you may, if necessary, register as a completing research status (CRS) student while you finish writing your thesis.

The length of registration for the research degree programmes is 5 years for part-time.

You are required to register initially for the MPhil degree with the expectation of transfer to PhD after successful completion of an upgrade viva 9-18 months after initial registration.

Students  undertake their research project, working closely with their supervisor(s) online (e.g., using Teams/Zoom and email) to develop each stage of their research, whilst engaging in online research training courses and activities.

IOE Centre for Doctoral Education provides an extensive Research Training Programme. Courses are available from the UCL Doctoral Skills Development Programme, IOE faculty's Research Training Programme, the multi-institutional Bloomsbury Postgraduate Skills Network, and from other sources.

The training offers a wide range of introductory, advanced methods, advanced theoretical, and generic non-credit bearing academic skills courses, as well as student led workshops and reading groups which you can attend.

A mandatory core course is provided online and in-person that aims to meet the needs of early-stage doctoral students. In addition, distance learning students are required to take six tailored online research training core modules (Approaches to Educational Research; Research and the Theoretical Field; Research Methods; Qualitative Data Analysis; Quantitative Data Analysis; Writing and Presenting Educational Research) in their first year of full-time study or first two years of part-time study, and are then able to choose from a selection of advanced online courses.

Part-time students are required to fulfil minimum 12 ‘points’ of training activity in each year of study. Each point is worth approximately a half-day of face-to-face training, or an online equivalent.

Other activities such as attending and presenting at conferences also count towards research training. Students may undertake additional training beyond these minima, as relevant to their research and/or as agreed with their supervisors.

You are expected to upgrade from MPhil to PhD status at around 18 months if part-time. Students whose performance is satisfactory will transfer from MPhil to PhD status.

Processes aimed at assisting you during your course of study include the Research Student Log (an online project management tool), and periodic reviews of students’ progress.

Upon successful completion of your approved period of registration you may, if necessary, register as a completing research status (CRS) student while you finish writing your thesis.

Accessibility

Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble accessable.co.uk. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing team.


Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2024/25) £7,580 £3,790
Tuition fees (2024/25) £22,700 £11,350

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.

Additional costs

Students should take into account any travel, accommodation and expenses involved in their thesis.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding webpage: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/scholarships/funding-students-postgraduate-research-courses

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Next steps

After choosing a programme to apply for, you should develop a research proposal and identify a potential supervisor. For more information, visit our website to find a supervisor and get in touch with departmental graduate tutors.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2024-2025

Year of entry: 2023-2024

Got questions? Get in touch

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