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Run by Faculty of Social Sciences and Law
Awards available PhD
Programme length Four years full-time;
seven years part-time
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available Yes
Open to international students Yes
Number of places Not fixed
Start date Most students will start in September 2017, however other dates can be considered. Please contact the student services office to discuss the options available.

Programme overview

PhD work centres on research leading to a dissertation. With the support of academic supervisors to guide you, you undertake research training and carry out personal research on a topic of interest. You will work with supervisors, who are internationally-recognised researchers in their field.

The doctoral community is large and diverse; you will also join one of our five research centres and this will give you the opportunity to get to know other researchers working in similar areas. There are more than 90 research students working in the Graduate School of Education. The atmosphere is exciting, creative and welcoming.

The ESRC South West Doctoral Training Centre

The Universities of Bristol, Exeter and Bath form the South West Doctoral Training Centre (SWDTC), which draws together the established research excellence of more than 750 academic and research staff from across the three institutions. An online academic journal, which is run by students from the SWDTC, and an annual student-led conference are among the highlights.

The Graduate School of Education's MSc Educational Research programme is one of the research training pathways that make up the SWDTC. This programme forms the basis for the extensive research training programme that all PhD candidates undertake. 

Other support includes access to a dedicated library on site; modern, flexible and well-appointed study spaces; a large number of seminars, often featuring national and international visitors; research student seminars; reading groups; and access to specialist methodological support.

Fees for 2017/18

Full-time fees


Part-time fees


Fees quoted are provisional, per annum and subject to annual increase.

Funding for 2017/18

The Faculty of Social Sciences and Law has an allocation of 1+3 and +3 ESRC-funded scholarships. Applicants may also be interested in applying for funding from the University of Bristol scholarship fund or alumni PhD scholarship fund.

Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Entry requirements

An upper second-class undergraduate honours degree (or equivalent) and normally a merit at MSc/MA level (or equivalent).

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

Application method Online application form
English language requirements Profile E
Further information about English language requirements
Admissions statement Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Research groups

The overarching mission of the Graduate School of Education is to develop learning and leadership for a changing world through research and teaching that promotes achievement, opportunity and social justice. The aim is to build the intellectual and practical leadership - among policy makers, practitioners, students and the wider research community - that is urgently required to enable education to adapt and thrive in a time of rapid local and global change.

Research in the school is concentrated into five main areas of inquiry and expertise within these research centres:

  • Centre for Assessment and Evaluation Research
  • Centre for Globalisation, Education and Social Futures
  • Centre for International and Comparative Research
  • Researching Education across Boundaries
  • Centre for Multilevel Modelling

As a doctoral student you will join one of the centres associated with these key areas of research, and work with staff and other doctoral students who have similar research interests.


We offer academic and personal development opportunities to equip you for the intellectual, social and personal challenges you will encounter during your career. Our overarching goal is to enable our graduates to display the following characteristics:

  • Equipped to demonstrate impact, excellence and distinctiveness in their chosen field
  • Visionary, imaginative, innovative, reflective and creative
  • High ideals and values, including a strong sense of social justice
  • Highly employable throughout the world
  • Adaptable, with the potential to be a leader in work and in the community

Read more about the careers of some of our graduates.

How to apply
Application deadline:

We welcome applications at any time of year; early application is advised. The deadline for applications for funded scholarships will be early to mid-February 2017 (the ESRC and University of Bristol funding application deadline is still to be confirmed). You are advised to prepare an application in good time for this if you wish to be considered.

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, and the support we offer to international students.

I chose Bristol because of its outstanding academic reputation. It's reassuring to be taught by people who truly love their subject - their passion becomes contagious.


REF 2014 results

  • 25% of research is world-leading (4 star)
  • 35% of research is internationally excellent (3 star)
  • 30% of research is recognised internationally (2 star)
  • 10% of research is recognised nationally (1 star)

Results are from the most recent UK-wide assessment of research quality, conducted by HEFCE. More about REF 2014 results.

Bristol Doctoral College

The Bristol Doctoral College facilitates and supports doctoral training and researcher development across the University.

Get in touch

Student Services Office Phone: +44 (0) 117 331 4234 Email:

Graduate School of Education
University of Bristol
35 Berkeley Square


Important disclaimer information about our programmes.

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