Research course

Education and Social Justice (thesis and coursework) PhD

Lancaster University · Educational Research

Entry requirements

Bachelor's degree: An upper second class honours (UK or equivalent) in any subject.

Master's degree: A good Master's degree in any background.

We may also consider non-standard applicants, please contact us for information.

If you have studied outside of the UK, we would advise you to check our list of international qualifications before submitting your application.

Months of entry


Course content

Our distinctive PhD programme is designed for professionals who are engaged in the promotion of social justice in or through education. Study is entirely online and part-time over a minimum of four years, providing you with a flexible yet academically rigorous and intellectually stimulating research route. The programme focuses on the issues and concerns at the heart of your professional practice and aims to train you as an autonomous researcher.

Working with world-leading, research-active academics, you will be encouraged to develop your own ideas in a structured and supportive research environment. Our department is ranked joint 61st in the world by the Times Higher Education World Subject Rankings 2022. The results of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) placed us in the top six research-intensive Education departments in the UK.

We are wholly committed to developing future researchers through an egalitarian approach. You and your global peers will connect with programme tutors and departmental staff, providing the opportunity to benefit from their extensive and diverse research experience and broad spectrum of interests, which reaches from end-to-end educationally; early childhood to lifelong learning.

You will become a member of our research hub, the Centre for Social Justice and Wellbeing in Education, which takes a multi-disciplinary approach to explorations of equity, diversity, inclusion and wellbeing. Contextual settings for projects include schools, higher education, home and the workplace. The common threads of social justice and education weave us all together but are broadly interpreted to allow individual interests and areas of professional practice to come to the fore as you establish your research identity.

Part of an international group of PhD students who share an interest in education and social justice and have previously studied to MA level or equivalent, you should find that the programme delivers a very human, inclusive and rich learning environment that’s also surprisingly sociable.

Skills development elements such as research methodologies, critical thinking and academic writing are complemented by engagement in online forums, peer and tutor review, webinars, interactive work, and skype conversations with supervisors.

Your dynamic peer cohort is likely to include people with diverse backgrounds, professions, interests and perspectives. Their and your professional practice will provide context as you all work to become excellent researchers in the fields. And you will have the opportunity to benefit from the cache of resources and library of previous students’ work that we will make available to you online.

During the first two years, you’ll undertake modules covering key social justice issues, approaches and theories, as well as research methods. In years 3 and 4, you’ll move on to undertake research and write a thesis, which is produced under the close supervision of a subject expert with one objective being to contribute new knowledge to the scholarly community.

Your thesis should have multiple outcomes: to build your academic profile, to result the in publication of journal papers and articles and/or conference presentations, and, to evidences the impact that your research could have if practically applied; for example, a previous graduate’s thesis on Asperger syndrome led to the development of guidelines for pastoral systems in universities.

The core modules are:

  • Understanding Social Justice Internationally: Issues, Theories and Approaches
  • Promoting Social Justice through Education
  • Education, Activism and Global Social Movements

Support modules include:

  • Researching Social Justice
  • Social Justice in Institutions and Organisations

Your PhD is awarded on completion of your supervised research, a viva examination, and final thesis. It may lead to career progression or change, a move into academia, or the satisfaction of intellectual curiosity.

Information for international students

We may ask you to provide a recognised English language qualification, dependent upon your nationality and where you have studied previously.

We normally require an IELTS (Academic) Test with an overall score of at least 6.5, and a minimum of 6.0 in the reading and writing elements and 5.5 in the speaking and listening elements. We also consider other English language qualifications.

Additional Information: No research proposal is required

Contact: Admissions Team +44 (0) 1524 592032 or email

Fees and funding

Learn more on our fees and funding page.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • PhD
    part time
    48 months
    • Online learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Kathryn Doherty
+44 (0)1524 593572