The research strategy of the School of Education focusses on Education in Society.
To undertake quality research in education that contributes to, and has an impact on, scholarly knowledge, professional practice, and society, at local, national, and international levels.
To facilitate social change and improve educational practice in a range of contexts and settings.
The PhD programme is an important part of the overall research environment within the School and we welcome applications to the PhD programme from interested individuals. Successful applicants will be joining a rich and vibrant unit that places a great emphasis on collaborative work and the sharing and development of ideas through regular research seminars, conferences and other events. They will particularly benefit from being able to learn from and share ideas with a range of other research students and academics working in related areas. In the application, applicants will be expected to illustrate clearly how they intend to interpret their chosen topic in terms of a clear set of aims and objectives and an appropriate research methodology.
Our research agenda is based around the following three core themes:
- Education and Conflict
- Children, Young People and Adults: Educating for Inclusion
- Teacher Education and Pedagogical Practice
Research facilities and groups
Education and Conflict
Education and Conflict is long standing research theme within the School. It is led by the UNESCO Chair, Professor Alan Smith, though his involvement with a number of international organisations, including UNESCO, UNICEF, the World Bank and DFID. Research work related to building greater social cohesion through education in the Northern Ireland context features strongly with researchers working in the fields of history education, the promotion of good relations through informal education, the use of ICT to foster inter-cultural learning, and using GIS systems to monitor young people’s social movements beyond their own immediate environs, in the context of divided communities. Proposals which examine the Northern Ireland educational experience in this field are welcomed but so, too, are in-depth or comparative studies based on work in conflicted situations in Europe, Asia and Africa.
Children, Young People and Adults: Educating for Inclusion
Improving outcomes for children, youth and adults has been a research focus in the School over an extended period of time, with an emphasis on Special Educational Needs, inclusive education and social marginalisation. This work has generated a strong inter-disciplinary profile and strong partnerships have been established across health, welfare, social policy and youth justice domains inside and outside the University. Research proposals in the fields of SEN; all aspects children’s welfare; and access to information, information literacy and inclusion are particularly encouraged.
Teacher Education and Pedagogical Practice
The Teacher Education and Pedagogical Practice strand focuses on learning and teaching issues which both emanate from, and inform, the School’s Teacher Education programmes, its TESOL programme, its work in continuing education and its Library and Information Management (LIM) activities. The School has had a long commitment to researching the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in teaching and learning, encouraging the seamless application of ICT innovation to curriculum and practice. Research in this area includes the creation of learning communities linked through technology at primary, second, and tertiary levels, on-line learning and the creation of e-portfolios to enhance teacher creativity and reflection and the investigation of the potential use of iPad technology in Teacher Education. Research proposals in the fields of Teacher Education and pedagogical practice; TESOL; and LIM are particularly encouraged.
Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study. We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.
In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.
English language requirements
In order to be admitted to research study at Ulster, you will need to provide evidence of your English language proficiency as part of your application.
Get full details on the requirements for both home and overseas applicants can be found on our English language requirements page.
Careers and opportunities
PhD graduates are recognised by employers to hold valuable transferrable skills, as the nature of the degree trains candidates in creativity, critical inquiry, problem solving, negotiation skills, professionalism and confidence.
The most recent Ulster survey of PhD graduates found that 92% had secured employment within the first year since graduation (HESA Destination of Leavers Survey 2015), and while two thirds end up in the Higher Education or Research sectors, the range of skills acquired equips the remainder for employment in a wide range of contexts.
Fees and funding
Details of tuition fees can be found under the fees schedule for the academic year of entry.
To work out for which fees you would be eligible and to find out more information about potential sources of funding, please view the Fees and Funding pages on the Doctoral College website.
We are delighted that you are considering Ulster University for your research studies.
Get full details on the application process and further guidance on how to apply, and what you will need to upload as part of your application.
Once you have identified supervisors, discussed a research proposal and are ready to make an application, please apply using the online application system.
Ulster University welcomes applications from all sections of the community and from persons with disabilities. It is University policy to assess all applications using academic criteria and on the basis of equality of opportunity and you should be assured that reasonable adjustments will be made should you require them.
I worked as an academic librarian before starting my PhD, and have always been interested in library provision to people in prison. My thesis explored prisoners' experiences of engaging with library services during incarceration, focusing on two specific prison sites in Northern Ireland and Scotland.Completing my PhD was one of the most challenging but rewardable and enjoyable experiences I have had. I loved having the chance to engage with people from across the world at different conferences and events who were just as passionate about my chosen research area. I would never have reached the finished line without the encouragement of my brilliant supervisors and the support of my PhD buddies both in Belfast and Coleraine. Connecting with other researchers was definitely the most important thing I could have done, and helped to give me perspective during endless days and nights of writing toward the end! I have been pushed out of my comfort zone in countless ways and the people I have
Jayne Finlay - PhD in Education
Immediately prior to my PhD I managed a Young Carers Project where I worked for approximately seven years with young carers aged from five years old to twenty-four. I completed both my Undergraduate degree (Politics) and Masters (International Politics) at QUB. My research focused on the educational impact of being a young carer aged 16 – 24 in Northern Ireland. Very little is known about young carers in Northern Ireland generally and much less about their experiences of education. I am indebted to those who gave of their time to participate in this research and share their stories. I feel so privileged to have met so many inspirational young carers during both my career and this study. As I look back and reflect on my time completing my PhD at Ulster University in Coleraine, it is hard to believe that I once considered not accepting my place when it was originally offered. Thankfully a very wise friend told me to grab the opportunity with both hands and I have never regretted
Allison Campbell - PhD in Education