Last Updated on August 12, 2023 by Oluwajuwon Alvina
Want to do a PhD?
What is a PhD?
Known as a research degree, the PhD is a 3-4 year (full time) or 5-7 year (part time) course of independent and original research which is supervised by an academic in the subject area.
You will contribute new research in the form of a thesis suitable for publication which is around 100000 words.
PhDs are traditionally research based, although the integrated PhDs, also known as New Route PhDs, combine research with a more vocational training programme.
Professional Doctorates are useful for students interested in professional careers and consist of a taught core and incorporate professional and academic knowledge. They are available in education (EdD), engineering (EngD or DEng) and business (DBA).
Why do a PhD?
People complete PhDs for a variety of reasons:
- Love of their subject
- Springboard into a new career
- Access to excellent resources for non-academic careers
- As a pre-requisite for academic careers
When can I do a PhD?
You can do a PhD if you have at least a 2:1 relevant first degree or a relevant masters. You must have in-depth knowledge of your subject area and be able to present a comprehensive research proposal.
You could also apply for a job as a Graduate Research Assistant where you would support the research an academic in your department, teach, take part in laboratory work and complete your own research. You could also consider completing a PhD part time whilst in a job.
Researching into PhDs
It is important to check the quality of the teaching on the course – see the Teaching Excellance Framework (TEF) ratings.
You will either come up with the topic yourself, pitch it at your preferred institution and supervisor and hope to gain funding, or you can apply for a topic which has been agreed between a funding council and an institution and advertised and hope to get accepted (funding will be assured here).
Useful publications in the LSE Careers Library
- Your PhD companion, Stephen Marshall and Nick Green, 2004
- The PhD Application Handbook, Peter Bentley, 2006
- How to get a PhD: third edition, Estelle Phillips and Derek Pugh, 2001
- AGCAS leaflet, postgraduate study and research
We have developed this programme for those of you who would like to explore an area of professional education in detail and contribute to the development of knowledge and practice in your chosen area. We focus on Higher Education only.
You might undertake this through empirical research or through drawing together your publications in the field to develop an analytical account of your unique contribution.
Learning Enhancement and Development
Learning Enhancement and Development (LEaD) exists to support students and staff in the creation and realisation of the best possible educational experience. The department is a central service, an academic department and has a research active team. It plays a vital role in managing the change associated with improving the educational culture at City.
The University strategy is that by 2016 the University will “excel amongst our peers in the quality of educational experience offered to our students”. For LEaD, our vision, to achieve this, is that we will create a University culture whereby educational excellence is of equal value to research. We see “education” as encompassing a curriculum model in the broadest sense (both content, delivery and support) and covering the full student lifecycle and experience. “Excellence” is the fostering of talent to achieve the best outcomes through practice. An excellent educational experience is the natural outcome of a University culture where staff and students are supported to learn collaboratively and inspired to create new learning opportunities.
We aim to:
- Support programme design and delivery that is inclusive, flexible, creative and innovative
- Provide professional development to support excellence in educational practice
- Support Students to achieve maximum potential
- Undertake research and scholarly activity to underpin the department’s work and promote leading edge academic practice
- Communicate about our work and collaborate with others to achieve our aims and support the enhancement of education.
The Directorate has a range of staff who work across five teams to facilitate all this activity and they include the academic team, the educational technology team, the learning development support team, the student counselling and mental health well-being team and learning success.
You should normally be working in an area of professional education and have a minimum of three years experience of providing professional education so that you can draw upon your practice as well as your theory and use this programme of study to develop your practice.
You are expected to have a good honours degree (normally no less than a second class honours degree from a UK University) in an appropriate subject and/or an MA or MSc or equivalent qualification.
If you consider yourself to be a non-traditional student you may be considered if you can demonstrate substantial research or relevant professional experience/publication.
In addition if you wish to transfer from another recognised PhD programme in a related area you may be considered, if you can demonstrate appropriate progress in your programme and research activity equivalent to the upgrade requirements of this programme. If you are able to meet these requirements you may enter as a direct PhD student.
If your first language is not English, one of the following qualifications is also required:
- IELTS: 6.5
If you are not from the European Economic Area / Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa or entry clearance to come to the UK to study.
The way that you apply may vary depending on the length of your course. There are different rules for:
- Students on courses of more than six months
- Students on courses of less than six months
- Students on a pre-sessional English language course.
For more information see our main Visa page.
Types of Doctorate
We offer three types of doctorates, namely, a traditional empirical study and thesis, synthesis of prior publications or by prospective publication. You will normally register as an MPhil/PhD student and, in due course, be assessed for transfer to PhD registration according to the approved procedures of LEaD and the university.
The focus of this route is often on academic inquiry and scholarship which requires a significant and original contribution to knowledge. You may have developed your idea and desire to research your topic from practice but the focus is usually on developing the academic knowledge in this area. It requires an extensive study focused on scholarly activity in the area by undertaking empirical research to contribute original knowledge and theory. These theoretical underpinnings may not have been applied to practice but will extend the knowledge boundaries in this area. In this route you will on completion of your study submit a thesis of between 80,000 to 100,000 words.
PhD by Prior Publication
The focus of this route is on those of you who have published in your discipline (often combining research and scholarly activity but over a period of time) and have demonstrated an original contribution of knowledge in this area. This may not have been your original intention but through reflection on your work this has become more obvious. The components of the submission includes the body of published and a supporting document which synthesises the published work and indicate clearly the original contribution to knowledge in no more than 25,000 words.
PhD by Prospective Publication
The focus of this route is that you will conduct an empirical research project or a series of related projects in a similar manner to the work normally conducted for PhD presented by major thesis. The output however rather than a traditional thesis will be a series of peer- reviewed articles which should have been submitted to a journal, accepted and published although it is possible to include a maximum of two articles which have been submitted but not yet accepted for publication. The expectation is that there will be a minimum of four and maximum of six distinct research articles although the upper number may vary. The student should normally be the first author of all the publications. A commentary will be provided with the articles and this will normally include an introduction, an outline and rationale for the work, how the work within the articles connect, a discussion section that reflects critically on the work although this may after each article and a concluding section with any limitations, reflections on your role as a researcher and implications and recommendations. The articles and commentary are submitted in a single thesis of between 40,000 and 80,000 words (including the publications). As with other aspects of the doctoral process, the examination process for this doctoral route is the standard process for all university doctoral degrees.
Areas of Research that could be supported
To study for your Doctorate you will require the minimum of one main supervisor although your supervision will provided through at least two supervisors. In order to ensure we can provide appropriate supervision we have indicated below the areas in which are able to provide supervision: We may also supply some supervision from outside LEaD where we consider this necessary.
The focus of this doctorate is higher education and the areas we can support are:
- Educational strategy and management
- Learning and teaching approaches
- Curriculum studies
- Technology to enhance learning
- Academic Leadership
- Work based learning
- Educational Development
- Professional development for staff
Duration of Research Study
The minimum and maximum periods for the duration of research study, transfer from MPhil/ PhD and transfer to writing-up are as follows:
|Degree||Period of registration||Minimum period before transfer to writing up|
|PhD||FT||2 years||4 years||2 years|
|PhD||PT||3 years||7 years||3 years|
|PhD by Prior Publication||PT||1 year||2 years||N/A|
FT=Full Time / PT=Part Time
The normal period for full-time PhD studies is three years, the two year minimum being intended for those of you who have completed a relevant MSc or similar qualification before registration.
Fees for doctoral candidates are charged annually and cover registration, supervision and examination. Fees are subject to review each year and may vary during your period of registration.
Postgraduate Doctoral Loans
The Government has introduced a new Postgraduate Doctoral Loans scheme which can provide a loan of up to £25,000 over three years to support study for a doctoral degree. A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study and can be used alongside any other forms of support you may be able to receive, for example from industry or business or through your PhD supervisor.
Research students are normally appointed a supervisory team consisting of at least two supervisors. One of these will be designated as the first point of contact with personal responsibility for ensuring that effective supervision is provided.
When you commence your supervisor will assess any needs you have for training and will explore an appropriate programme of development with you including undertaking some modules to help you teach when required.
You will have the use of a desk, phone and other office resources within LEaD. You will also be invited to all activities that are part of the LEaD development so you can participate and become an active member of the team.
You will need to complete an application form and two references, one of which should be an academic reference demonstrating support for your ability to study at this level. If you are applying for the traditional or structured thesis routes you should also provide a research proposal which follows the format of:
- A brief introduction to your chosen area, how this relates to your role or practice and your reason for undertaking this study (approx 200 words)
- A brief literature review of key resources which support the area needing investigation and some questions that have arisen from the literature (approx 1000 words)
- The research method you believe is appropriate for the study (approx 600 words)
- How this study and its findings may enhance your role or practice and the original contribution to knowledge you hope to make (approx 200 words)
If you to apply for the prior publication route you need to submit a list of the publications upon which you wish to be assessed and these should be in English with you as either the sole author or one of the authors. You should also include a written document of 2,000 words outlining how the publications demonstrate an original and significant contribution to the area that is the focus of your work.
All applications and proposals will then be reviewed by the Senior Tutor/Programme Leader for the research programme and at least one further category A supervisor. If the proposed area of research can be supported by the expertise of the supervisors in the department (see list provided in Structure section) and the other aspects of the application meet the criteria then the applicant may be invited for interview with the proposed supervisor and the Senior Tutor for the programme or another member of the approved supervisor team. This interview might take place via the telephone or Skype if required.
Applications will normally be expected for an October start but in some circumstances a February start will be considered.
If you wish to apply for an October start you need to submit your application and the research proposal or outline of publications and their contribution to knowledge by the 31stAugust.
In some circumstances we may consider a February start and you would need to submit your application and the research proposal or outline of publications and their contribution to knowledge by the 20th December.
Applications would be expected to be reviewed and where appropriate a written offer of a place made at least six weeks prior to registration on the programme however this may not be possible and if you apply late this may delay your start date on this programme.
LEaD operates within the University policy on equal opportunities and so this would be demonstrated when considering applications.
If you would like to discuss the programme further contact Professor Pam Parker (Programme Leader), [email protected].
If you need an application form or other information contact:
The Programme Administrator
Learning Enhancement and Development
City, University of London
Level 3 University Building
10 Northampton Square
London EC1V 0HB
Tel: +44 (0)20 7040 3144
Email: [email protected]