EdD in Higher Education

The higher education strand of the EdD programme at Sheffield offers a unique opportunity to come together with colleagues specializing in this field of study.



Photograph from EdD weekend 2015

The EdD is a Taught Programme with a programme duration of 4 – 8 years and mode of attendance part time.

We have excellent research networks, including the Centre for the Study of Higher Education at Sheffield and our leadership role in the Centre for Global Higher Education.

The new Centre for Global Higher Education is the first UK research centre dedicated to the investigation of higher education and its future. It is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Higher Education Funding Council for England. The Centre is led by the UCL Institute of Education, with the University of Sheffield and Lancaster University as core partners. We are therefore in an optimum position to support students and scholars interested in the academic study of higher education.

We define higher education broadly to encompass the fields of professional, vocational, further and adult education.

During Part I of the EdD programme you will have the opportunity to study a range of key issues and contemporary debates in higher education. In the first year there is a focus on the conceptualization of higher education, both as a field of enquiry and as an education sector. We also introduce contrasting approaches to research in relation to higher education, drawing on the resources and expertise of colleagues in the two research centres. You will find more information and our areas of expertise on the staff profiles.

Other key topics we explore during Part I include internationalization, globalization and higher education and higher education policy. You will also work with colleagues from across all strands of the EdD programme to consider contemporary education debates, curriculum matters and pedagogical issues.

In Part II of the EdD programme you will have the opportunity to pursue a study of direct relevance to your own research and practice interests. You will work closely with a supervisor to develop your initial proposal and to continue to develop your study and final write-up.

Programme Information

Programme Information

Photograph from EdD weekend

The main aim of the programme is to develop high standards of research that will be relevant to a range of professional and managerial careers.

The programme is designed to enable each student to focus on issues relating to her/ his own professional needs. In Part I, modules are focused on research training, in preparation for Part II, and also examine a variety of aspects of educational research. Students are encouraged to shape assignments to meet their own professional contexts.

In Part II, students undertake an independent study in an area of their choice.

Who is the EdD in Higher Education for?

The programme is designed to meet the needs of professionals working in a wide range of areas related to higher and post-secondary education. Many of our students are in middle and senior management positions in universities, colleges, professional organisations and policy bodies, in the UK and other countries. Some have recently moved into higher education from public, private and third-sector organisations. Others are at the start of their careers. The course is for people who hold a Masters degree and who are committed to pursuing their studies at Doctoral level. They might want to specialise in a particular area of higher education. A number of students achieve publication in international peer-reviewed journals during the programme. Many also gain promotion or move to new positions due to their Doctoral work.

Where is the Programme Taught?

The weekend school for the EdD programme is based in a dedicated venue, details will be shared with students in due course.

Programme Structure

Programme structure

The programme is based on a combination of distance learning and weekend study schools. Part I, involves attendance at the weekend study school. This enables students to meet and develop their own networks and contacts. Attendance at residential weekends is a compulsory part of the programme at Part I level.

Students are sent readings in electronic form prior to each weekend school. During the study school, students attend in lectures and seminars. Regular communication between students and supervisors is encouraged throughout Part II. In addition to attending supervision tutorials at weekend study schools students maintain contact at key points during their programme of study via e-mail, letter, telephone and personal visits.

Part I

This comprises of the following modules:

Introduction to Education Research

An introduction to educational research, contemporary issues and debates in the field.

Contemporary Debates in Education

Draws on a range of research studies to explore topical educational issues, together with emerging patterns of educational provision for the future.

Processes of Educational Research

This module focuses on the research methodologies techniques and responsibilities of the researcher.

Approaches to Education Policy

Introduces students to the critical study of education policy, its formation and effects in relation to theory and practice. Education policy themes include: marketisation/privatisation, globalisation, professional identity and equality.

Named route module

Focuses on a variety of aspects of educational research related to the specific named route chosen by the student, in this case, Higher Education.

Research Design and Management

Looks at practical issues involved in all stages of the research process, which includes those undertaken in Part II of the EdD programme.

Part II: Thesis

An extensive research project of between 50,000 and 60,000 words. more information can be found under 'Assessment'.



Students are encouraged to shape assignments to meet their own professional contexts. Assignments are 6,000 words in length and students can expect to receive feedback on a plan and a complete draft of their assignment.

In Part 2 students conduct an extensive research project on an approved topic, resulting in a thesis of between 50,000 and 60,000 words. It is examined through a viva examination to ensure the highest research standards. The Part 2 research thesis is conducted under the supervision of a member of staff. Regular communication between students and supervisors is encouraged throughout Part 2. In addition to attending supervision tutorials at weekend study schools, students maintain contact at key points during their programme of study via e-mail, Skype and/or telephone.

View a list of staff research interests

Recent thesis titles include:

Chris Jarvis (2012) ‘Using Pupil Voice to Inform Cross-Curricular Language Lessons in a Specialised Foreign Language Secondary School’
Sheila MacDonald (2013) ‘ESOL in the UK – a critical feminist analysis’
Constantinos Tsouris (2013) ‘Collaborative learning integration in the ESP classroom and curriculum: teachers' and students' perceptions and practices’
Kerstin Zindler (2014) ‘Content and Language Intergrated Learning (CLIL) and PE in England: An exploratory study’
Marika Gatt Sacco (2012) ‘Reconceptualising Early Childhood Education: A Child-Appropriate Practice’
Alex Hallowes (2013) ‘Drawing on the Potential of 'Once Upon A Time' ... An examination of the effect of a live and interactive storytelling process on subsequent drawings by children in a Reception Class’
Jackie Musgrave (2014) ‘How do practitioners create inclusive environments in day care settings for children aged 0-3 years with chronic health conditions?: An exploratory case study’
Raudhah Yahya (2015) ‘Play and Learning: Experiences and perspectives of immigrant mothers and bicultural children in Canada’
Joy Chalke (2015) ‘Negotiating Professionalisation, Developing Professionalism: Early Years Practitioners’ Stories of Professional Identity’
Eleri Davies (2013) ‘Chewing gum or hard sweet ? Making meanings in school’
Nadia Vassallo (2014) ‘Voices to the unheard: acknowledging the past and taking critical action to shape the future’. Classroom ethnography of the past and present school experiences of a Level 1 class in a vocational college’
Ninette Pace Balzan (2014) ‘Reading as participating: a study of adults’ embodied experiences of reading and writing’
Kate D’Arcy (2013) ‘Elective Home Education and Traveller families in contemporary times: Educational Spaces and Equality’
Stephen Wordsworth (2013) ‘A career in the allied health professions: Borrowing from Bourdieu to navigate student choice, class and policy’
Rachel Birds (2012) ‘Changing communities and challenging identities: An ethnography of a university spinout company’
Irene McCormick (2015) ‘Navigating learning outcomes: Tensions and potentials in media HE in Ireland’
Rhonda Wynne (2009) ‘The Civic Role of Universities: General Concepts and Irish Practices’
Laura Lane Access (2015) ‘Participation and Mobility: A Critical Policy Analysis of Higher Education in England between 1987 and 2012’