Professional Doctorate in Education (EdD)

Introduction to the Program

The PhD in Education at The University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) is a four to 6 year postgraduate degree program taught in English.

About UNNC

The University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) was the first Sino-foreign university to open its doors in China. Established in 2004, with the full approval of the Chinese Ministry of Education, we are run by The University of Nottingham with cooperation from Zhejiang Wanli Education Group, a key player in the education sector in China.

The University of Nottingham is in the top one percent of more than 7,500 higher education institutions worldwide and league tables consistently rank the University highly. For more info visit the page here.

About the Program

This programme is an exciting opportunity for experienced education professionals to develop the critical knowledge and skills necessary to undertake their own research and thereby improve their educational practices and contexts.

The Professional DoctorateĀ brings people together from across education sectors to work as a cohort in a series of weekend study schools and then on an extended piece of original research. The programme is directed by ProfessorĀ Anwei Feng and taught by an established team of nationally and internationally recognised education scholars who boast a wide range of expertise and experience in research, teaching and policy work.

The programme has a focus on theoretically-informed, applied educational research as a basis for understanding and transforming education understanding, practices and contexts across a range of sectors. It seeks to explore the connections between policy, research and professional knowledge and practice. At all times students will be expected to develop their own arguments and critical standpoint in relation to education research.

Programme Structure

The Professional Doctorate will recruit for an October start each year. Students will normally take a minimum of four years part-time to complete the degree although typical students may take up to six years. The programme is divided intoĀ two Parts as described below and candidates will be awarded the Professional Doctorate if they successfully complete Part II by submitting a thesis or portfolio of 50-60,000 words and undergo a viva voce
examination. Progression to Part II is predicated upon successful completion of Part I.

The structuring of the programme in this way is designed to support busy professionals undergoing part time study and allows exit routes, where appropriate, for students who for whatever reason are not able to complete the full programme.

Part I (taught element: attendance at eight weekend schools)

The first part of the programme is taught in a series of eight weekend schools (Friday/Saturday; two weekend schools per module). The timing of these weekends has been provisionally planned up until 2014 and has avoided major holiday periods (for the UK, e.g. Easter, Spring Bank Holiday). All refreshments and lunches will be provided. Some participants will travel from a distance for study weekends and information about University
accommodation will be made available well in advance, although applicants are free to organise their own alternative.

Accommodation costs are not included in the course fee.

The development of the cohort is central to ensuring maximum benefit from the support within the group, particularly during the later stages of the programme.

During Part I the cohort will follow the same programme. However, as we assume that participantsā€™ education context will be the site for application of the principles learned in modules, there will be regular opportunity to focus assessed work on your own particular area of interest.

Module 1: Understanding education knowledge
This introductory module explores what it means to be a researching professional by developing critical perspectives on knowledge and practice in educational settings. It considers how policy, research, professional, pedagogic and practical knowledge is created, contested and/or consumed by education policymakers,
professionals and practitioners. Drawing upon a range of approaches to, and ideas about, knowledge-work the module allows participants to explore these forms of knowledge within areas of education that are of particular concern to individuals and/or subgroups within the cohort.

Module 2:Ā Methodology and Methods for Researching Education
This module explores the challenges of designing good education research studies, particularly when researching oneā€™s context or practice. This includes consideration of the peculiar ethical and practical difficulties faced by insider researchers. Some introduction is made to common methodological frameworks and techniques but generally the emphasis is less upon research methods training and more upon developing the dispositions needed for doctoral research (eg. criticality, reflexivity, positionality).

Module 3: Reviewing Literature for Researching Education
Module 3 is about how to develop a critical review of research literature, specifically in relation to students’ own professional interests. Some of the theoretical ā€˜big ideasā€™ in educational research are explored as well as how these might be used by researching professionals. The module is informed by the work covered in modules 1 and 2 and aims to integrate theory, methodology and techniques.

Module 4: Key debates and issues for researching education
The final taught module builds on Module 1 and allows participants to take a more in depth look at educational practice within their own sector. Participants will explore relevant and key debates and literatures which will be useful in framing their ideas for developing the research proposal in Part II of the programme. The assessment from this module is likely to act as a springboard for the programme of research for Part II/III.

Part II (Thesis Stage)

Part II starts with compulsory attendance at the Summer School undertaken at the end of year two. There will be an expectation that participants return each year during summer school to form an ongoing community of researching education professionals. At this time relevant, optional short courses can be made available and there will be opportunities to present work in progress. There will also be an explicit focus on planning the strategic dissemination of research to colleagues, the wider profession and the education community in general.

All candidates will go through a Confirmation of Research Status process at the end the first year in Part II. This will include a submission of a paper of 10-12,000 words and will involve a Viva Voce examination.

In Part II of the programme participants undertake a sustained programme of research in their own education sub-field, focused on their own context and/or practice. This should take a minimum of two years and can take two forms:

  • Thesis of 50-60,000 words based on a single empirical study
  • Production of a 50-60,000 word Portfolio typically consisting of three linked pieces of research (3x 10,000) and a 20,000 word overview and meta-analysis. This can, where appropriate, include educational products (e.g. film, design research outputs, software) as part of the submission but this would be in addition to the requisite 50,000 words.

Entry Requirements

A candidate for the Professional Doctorate in Education (EdD) degree must:

(a) be a graduate of the University of Nottingham (or any other approved university) holding a Bachelorā€™s degree (normally first or second class Honours or equivalent) and normally holding an appropriate Masters degree or

(b) hold such other qualifications as may, on the recommendation of the School, be deemed by Senate to be equivalent to the qualifications referred to in (a).

(c) have a minimum of two yearsā€™ professional experience within a relevant field.

Language requirements

If your first language is not English you will be required to provide proof of your English language ability. You must provide evidence of competence in English as follows (minimum required standard stated):

IELTS: Overall 7.0, with no less than 6.0 in each element

TOEFL (internet-based): Overall 100, with no less than 21 in listening, 22 in reading, 23 in speaking and 21 in writing

Start Date of the program


Application Deadline

ApplicationsĀ can be made throughout the year, although you must allow at least one month for processing your application before the commencement of the programme.

Tuition Fees

The tuition fees are RMB40000 each year. The total tuition fee for the 4 year program is 160000 RMB.


The University has several buildings designated for international students, building 11, 18 and 20. All rooms are fully furnished and equipped with air conditioning and a telephone and computer point; enabling students to make and receive telephone calls and access the University’s data network from their bedrooms. For further information on the accommodation visit the accommodation page here.

Apply Now

Join 180,000+ international students and get monthly updates

Receive Admissions, Scholarships & Deadlines Updates from Chinese Universities.
Unsubscribe anytime.