The School of Education is at the forefront of Educational research internationally and offers a dynamic and inclusive research culture. We welcome enquiries from potential students to collaborate with our staff and professional partners to investigate the complexities of education and its underpinning values and beliefs.

Study Information

At a Glance

Degree Qualification

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We have a thriving community of research students and you could join our international community from every continent across the world. We offer flexibility through online learning, enabling you to study with us anywhere and receive support from experienced educational professionals.

Our Research

Our research degrees are offered on a full or part time basis and delivered on campus or supervised at a distance.
For the session 2021/22 we can support all students to take up their PhD study at a distance and either remain as a distance student or complete their studies on campus in Aberdeen.

PhD study in the school is divided into four themes:

  • International Studies of Social & Educational Development
  • Lifelong Professional Education & Development
  • Educational Inclusion & Wellbeing
  • Pedagogy & Digital Learning

Current PhD projects for these four themes include:

International Studies of Social & Educational Development

  • An ethnographic Study on the Development and Implementation of the Social Practices Approach to Adult literacies in the Western Province of Rwanda.
  • An inquiry into adult refugee learning, the role of agency, dialogical learning and critical thinking for a more reflective learning.
  • Bringing the world into classroom: Teacher for Global Education in Post-Conflict and Post-Tsunami Aceh.
  • The Effectiveness of Bilingual and Monolingual English Language Teachers and the Impact of their Qualities on the Academic Achievements of Preparatory Year Saudi English Students.
  • Math Instruction for Saudi Arabian English Language Learners: The Case of Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University.Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society, and Rule of Law (CISRUL) Scholarship student project
  • Approaches to Survival in the Discursive Sphere Under An Authoritarian Regime: Experience of Civil Society Organisations in Ethiopia.

Lifelong Professional Education & Development

  • Exploring Teachers' Perceptions of 'Enquiry' and 'Evidence' within Policy and Practice
  • A sociocultural investigation of student teachers’ experiences in the context of school placement within Initial Teacher Education in Scotland
  • School Leadership and Teacher Professionalism: An Exploration of Head Teacher Leadership in Public Primary Schools in Kenya.
  • Touched by Nature- A study of children's emerging ecological identity and their connection with Nature.

Educational Inclusion & Wellbeing

  • How does autism training influence staff practice and staff perception of autism within a social care context?
  • Closing the Gap: How can teachers and youth workers better support pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds?
  • What are the Islamic Teachings on Mindfulness, Positivity and Wellbeing?
  • An investigation into particular factors affecting convicted prisoners on their release that discourage them from starting their own business, and therefore the development of prison Education Centre courses to help prisoners overcome these obstacles.

Pedagogy & Digital Learning

  • What impact, if any, is technology having on human identity and values in the 21st century workplace?
  • Investigation teachers' values and practice relating to inquiry based learning in Science Education.
  • Learners’ and teachers' experiences of collaborative online learning.
  • Using text based CMC to develop EAP students argumentation skills: learning processes and learner perceptions.

Research Interests

International Studies in Social and Educational Development

Staff in the School of Education are currently carrying out research in international contexts including countries such as Rwanda, Malawi, Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Cambodia. Education for Global Citizenship is a core part of our undergraduate curriculum. The School of Education also hosts the Centre for Global Development, which is a centre of excellence committed to inter-sectional and interdisciplinary working for equality, social justice and sustainable futures. We welcome students from across the world who wish to explore social and educational issues from an international perspective as a focus for study at PhD level.

Experts : Professor Pamela Abbott, Professor Matthew Clarke, Peter Mtika, Rachel Shanks, Liz Curtis, Stephanie Thomson

Lifelong Professional Education & Development

Understanding the ways in which people learn to become teachers and continue their professional learning throughout their careers is a core part of work in the School of Education. We also carry out research in relation to teacher education and teacher educators from international perspectives. Our supervisors have interests ranging from the role of relationships, communities of practice and belongingness in teacher education, to boundary crossing and professional learning for vocational teachers. Creative approaches to teaching and learning and international perspectives in the early years is also a key research focus. Our research is shaping national and international policies.

Experts: Archie Graham, Professor Donald Gray, Professor Matthew Clarke, David Johnston, Peter Mtika, Dean Robson, Liz Curtis, Rachel Shanks, Kirsten Darling-McQuistan, Stephanie Thomson, Will Barlow

Educational Inclusion & Wellbeing

Educational inclusion and wellbeing are at the heart of much of the research carried out in the School of Education. Staff research interests range from studies of the practice and teaching of mindfulness to exploring inclusive approaches to learning and teaching in the classroom. Our research both critiques and informs policy. We also host the Centre for Counselling which promotes the practice and study of respectful ways of relating to others, self and the world around us. Our students have developed projects within this research theme in a range of settings including schools, prisons and contexts which support vulnerable people in society.

Experts: David Johnston, Will Barlow, Archie Graham, Dean Robson, Stephanie Thomson, Peter Mtika, Rachel Shanks.

Pedagogy and Digital Learning

Pedagogical research in a range of learning contexts relating to life-long formal and informal learning is a key area of research in this school. We have expertise in arts-based approaches to learning, experiential learning, as well as research in particular disciplinary areas such as science education, humanities education, and teaching and learning English as a second language. Digital learning is a key part of life in the School, and we welcome students interested in the role of digital platforms and digital pedagogies to apply for PhD study.

Experts: Will Barlow, Colin Christie, Liz Curtis, Professor Donald Gray, Helen Martin, Stephanie Thomson

Entry Requirements

Applicants to the PhD Programme must provide a detailed research proposal and two academic references from their most recent academic institution. We advise that applicants should have a depth of knowledge of research methodologies and practical experience of planning and carrying out a research project, before considering PhD study.

If English is not your first language you must also show evidence of attaining standards in English.

Details of English language criteria

International Applicants

Research in the School of Education

We are engaged in research projects that link with our research themes. Get involved with our research either at an individual level, or in partnership as part of another organisation or institution.


Our graduates go on to careers in academia, some go on to work in a range of public service roles including government roles and policy making. Some graduates go on to develop careers in wider civic society using the knowledge and skills they have developed for social good.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

School of Education (Research)
University of Aberdeen
Macrobert Building
King’s College
AB24 5UA