Research Degree Routes of Study

Edge Hill University offers three routes to a research degree: MRes, PhD, and professional doctorate. All applicants registered on these courses are referred to as postgraduate researchers (PGRs) or research degree students. As as PGR, your time will be primarily spent conducting research. You will acquire the knowledge and skills to help you design and conduct your research project, evaluate the research, and disseminate your results. In doing so, you will develop a range of transferable skills which can help you with further research within or outside academia, including critical thinking, project management, time management and presentation.

Please click on the course name to be directed to the relevant route of study information in the University’s e-prospectus.

Course Name Qualification UCAS Code
Doctor of Philosophy PhD Apply Direct
Education (EdD) Professional Doctorate Apply Direct
Emergency Services Management (DESM) Professional Doctorate Apply Direct
Masters by Research MRes Apply Direct
The next entry points  for research degree recruitment is February 2022.

Applicant guidance for research degree applications


Entry criteria for all research degree applications can be found on the e-prospectus links above. International and EU application requirements are outlined on these pages, with further information provided on the International Office website.

What is the Graduate School looking for?

When the Graduate School receives an application for consideration, we are looking for the following:

  • At the point of application to decide eligibility for interview we are looking for well designed, feasible, projects that are aligned with the research interests of members of staff that are qualified to supervise research students and have capacity to do so. You can look at possible supervisors by checking staff research profiles on Pure. We have to ensure that we have at least two members of staff able to supervise and two further members of staff who would be appropriate internal examiners.
    Following the guidance below in relation to the application form and the proposal and consulting appropriate staff is the best way to ensure that you make a strong application. If we think that an application should be considered in a different subject area from that indicated in your application, we will ensure it is considered in both areas.
  • At the point of interview we have already established that your proposed project is well designed, appears viable, proposes a suitable original contribution to knowledge, and seems to be something we could supervise and examine. The focus at interview moves to whether the panel feels that you are well equipped to complete the project in good time to achieve a successful outcome. That means that the panel wants to know whether you have the necessary knowledge, skills, abilities and temperament for doctoral/MRes research.

The research proposal

The research proposal should not exceed 2,000 words in length for doctoral applications and 1,000 for MRes applications. The specific content and structure of the document should be discussed with prospective supervisors, in advance of submitting your application, as they will be able to make recommendations regarding the most suitable form for the proposal to take given the academic discipline in which you are working. There are, however, some general recommendations that can be made. We would normally expect the research proposal to include the

  • An abstract of no more than 200 words outlining the design of the research, including a clear statement of the proposed contribution to knowledge that will be made by the work: details should be in the proposal itself but should also be summarised in the abstract. An independent, significant and original contribution is required at doctoral level. The abstract is in addition to the proposal and so does not count in relation to the word limit on the proposal.
  • Some evidence of familiarity with relevant literature and the place of the proposed research within a body of existing work: in designing research it is important to do so in light of existing work on the topic. The proposal should show a familiarity with relevant literature, the ability to critically evaluate that literature and the ability to identify gaps in existing research. It should not simply be a report on what others have said on the topic or the research that they have completed. Rather, it should show your ability to identify patterns in existing research, evaluate those as points of departure for new research, and place your proposed research within the context of that work.
  • A clear statement of research questions and, where appropriate (but only where appropriate), hypotheses: the proposal should also indicate the relationship between each research question and the methods of data collection and analysis that have been designed to address them. Where appropriate, an indication of the relationships between the various research questions should be given. For example, there may be a primary question, elements of which may be addressed by tackling various subsidiary or ancillary questions. In addition, one might expect some discussion of how existing work in the relevant field relates to, and influences, the research questions.
  • A rationale for any theoretical choices made in designing the research.
  • A rationale for the methodological and epistemological choices made in designing the research.
  • Evidence of some degree of awareness of conceptual issues relevant to the research: a central differentiating feature between doctoral level work and research at lower levels is the emphasis on conceptual matters at doctoral level. Many of the problems faced by researchers, even those engaged in work that is principally empirical, are conceptual rather than empirical. A high level
    of conceptual sophistication is a major element in distinguishing research that makes an original contribution to knowledge from research that does not. While we would expect your proficiency with conceptual matters to develop during the course of doctoral study, being able to show some familiarity with conceptual issues relevant to your proposed project provides some advantage at the point of application.
  • Where relevant, details of the methods of data collection and the nature of that data, plus an account of the rationale for the choice of those methods.
  • Where relevant, details of the methods of data analysis, plus an account of the rationale for the choice of those methods.
  • Where appropriate, brief discussion of the primary ethical issues raised by the design of the research, along with an indication of how those issues might best be addressed.
  • A discussion of practical issues, such as any financial or resource requirements, or requirements for additional training on the part of the student, along with timescales (e.g. Gantt chart) and any health and safety issues.
  • All proposals with any significant resource requirements should include a fully itemised projected budget as an appendix to the proposal (not counted in the word limit). What we are looking for here is a realistic assessment of any costs, not an unrealistic attempt to be efficient, or, for that matter, unrealistic extravagance. Good financial planning is an important part of the design of a viable project. Here is a template budget spreadsheet which can be used to layout these costs.

Additional proposal application guidance for EdD candidates

Guidance on Outline Research Proposals for Professional Doctorate in Education (EdD) PGRs (maximum of 2,000 words excluding references)


Outline research proposals submitted to should be approximately 2,000 words long. However, it is acceptable for the reference section to go beyond this. It is likely that you will complete the outline proposal with some guidance from a member of the department’s academic staff with an interest in the area of research in question. To be put in touch with a relevant member of staff, please contact the EdD leader, Professor Carol Robinson at [email protected]

 The brief proposal should then outline your proposed research, it may differ from the structure below but should include all of the following components.

The project title and applicant’s name should appear at the top of Page 1.


No more than 200 words – to provide an overview of the research proposal.

Introduction (background for research and your positioning)

Why do you want to do this research? Why is it important in your chosen setting(s) at this time? How does it relate to your professional practice? What is the background to the issue of your prosed research (i.e. what problem are you addressing?). Is the proposed research part of any larger issues?

Aims and Research Questions

To include aim(s) of the research. Why is this research important? What do you hope to achieve? What are the key question(s) to be addressed by the research?

You may want to comment on the limitations relating to your aims.

Literature Review

This should contain brief coverage of the relevant literature, such as would be found in a standard journal article i.e., what research has already been conducted in the area? How is it relevant to the proposed project? This section should demonstrate an awareness of the breadth of literature in relation to your research question, the major lines of argument in the field, and an awareness of relevant policy documents.

Theoretical Framework:

Outline any key theoretical approaches or theorists that you intend to drawn on and explain their relevance for your study.

Research Design and Methodology:

This section should comprise sub-sections on how the research will be conducted, with whom, why your chosen approach, and an outline of possible ethical considerations.

Overview and design. Include brief details of: how the research will be conducted.  Will it be empirical, quantitative, qualitative or mixed methods?

Why are you going to adopt this approach?

How does your chosen approach fit your aims and research questions?

Participants. If relevant, provide of who the participants will be, how many will be recruited, how they will be recruited and why.

Resources/Materials/Apparatus needed. The type and level of detail reported here should be consistent with that which would be reported in journal articles.

Analytic Strategy. For qualitative studies, appropriate details of the procedures for analysis should be given. For quantitative studies, some coverage of statistical power considerations in relation to the target sample size should be given. Other details should include the plans to use such procedures as ANOVA, regression analysis, etc.

Ethical Considerations. All research within the Faculty of Education must be conducted in accordance with the Code of Ethics of Edge Hill University and BERA guidelines should also be consulted. Any particular issues likely to arise from the proposed research should be mentioned at this point.

Contribution to knowledge within your professional field.

If you have not already done so, you should sum up by explaining how the work will make an original contribution to knowledge within your professional field practice, as is required for the award of an EdD.

 Overall length should not exceed 2,000 words


A reference list (not a bibliography) should be provided in Harvard format for all citations made within the outline proposal in question.

Application process

The application process for all research degree applications can be found on the e-prospectus links below. International and EU application requirements are outlined on these pages, with further information provided on the International Office website.

Course Name Qualification UCAS Code
Doctor of Philosophy PhD Apply Direct
Education (EdD) Professional Doctorate Apply Direct
Emergency Services Management (DESM) Professional Doctorate Apply Direct
Masters by Research MRes Apply Direct

The interview

Should you be invited to interview, it will last for 40 minutes in total (including your presentation). Following introductions, you will be asked to give your presentation, then the members of the panel will each ask you a few questions. The primary focus of the questions will be on the research, but there will also be some questions skills development (you should familiarise yourself with the Researcher Development Framework and the skills development agenda in doctoral/MRes education prior to interview).

It is very important that you keep your presentation to no more than ten minutes. We pay close attention to that because failing to do so demonstrates an inability to manage time and a disregard for the requirements. It also means that you will have less time in the interview to demonstrate to us that you are a suitable candidate. The interviews run to a tight schedule and we cannot extend any interview to allow us to complete our questions when a presentation has run over time.

It is important to realise that what we are particularly looking for is evidence that you are a rigorous thinker who understands what it is to design good research and so a good performance at interview is not a matter of defending your initial research design at all costs. It is better for the panel to see that you have recognised a problem and are thinking of solutions by identifying adjustments or alternatives to the design of the research than it is for the panel to have identified a problem and you to try to defend the design of the research in the face of that problem when that is really a lost cause. We are not looking for a perfectly designed project; research rarely proceeds exactly as it was initially designed, so our primary focus is on your potential for development, not necessarily on where you are now.

Availability of academic staff for interviews will be limited during University holidays, especially the summer, so you should plan the timing of your application around these restrictions. If you cannot be interviewed in time you will need to defer entry to the following academic year.

If offered a place, it will be dependent on your being cleared by the Admissions Office (or International Office as applicable), and meeting any conditions set by the interview panel.



Research Student Development Programme

Should you be successful in attaining a research degree place with the Graduate School, you will undertake programme of sessions to help your development as a researcher throughout your time at Edge Hill.

You will work with your supervisors to conduct a learning and skills needs analysis at the start of your programme of research. This will help you tailor some of the training and development activities you undertake during your time here. PhD and professional doctorate students will repeat this analysis annually.

Core sessions

Year 1, semester 1 (Wednesdays and Saturdays)

A series of sessions designed to introduce you to research-related considerations including research design, research project management, research data management, research ethics, and conceptual, epistemological and methodological matters.

Methodological sessions

Year 1, semester 1 (Wednesdays and Saturdays)

You will customise a mini training programme from a wider selection available to all postgraduate research students to enable you to address matters appropriate to your broad research area.

Programme of related studies

Year 1, semester 2 onwards

The needs analysis will shape this programme of training and development activity so it can address your individual needs. It may involve you attending sessions provided as part of taught masters programmes across the University, departmental research seminars, and other training sessions offered by your department and others.

Subject-specific training

Year 1, semester 2 until the end of year 2

Professional doctorate only; this can differ depending on the subject so please see details of the specific professional doctorate.


Entry requirements

You must possess:

  • A good honours degree (upper 2nd class honours or higher)
  • A masters level qualification is preferred for applicants to doctoral degrees
  • If English is not your first language, or if you are from a country whose national language is not English, you will need to be able to demonstrate English language proficiency to a minimum standard of IELTS 7.0 (or any equivalent recognised by the University). The International Office can offer advice.

  • Professional doctorates only: If you do not have the standard academic qualifications stated above, you may still apply for the professional doctorate provided you have substantial professional – or other relevant – experience, and/or suitable equivalent qualifications. Please discuss this with the relevant professional doctorate leader (contact details can be found under Professional doctorate)

Before you apply

Before applying for a PhD at Edge Hill University, you should discuss your proposed research with the relevant academic department (if applying to join the PhD or MRes route of study) or relevant professional doctorate leader as applicable. To discuss Health related research projects housed in FHSCM please contact Prof Lucy Bray.

Please be aware that you must be able to attend the intended entry point’s institutional induction. This is a condition of all offers.

The next  recruitment intake for our research degrees is  February 2022, followed by October 2022.  

The deadline to apply for Feb 2022 start is 20 October at 23:59.

The institutional induction for February 2022 applicants will be on the 05 February 2022 with additional induction activity week commencing 07 February 2022. 

Application deadlines

The next  recruitment intake for our research degrees is  February 2022, followed by October 2022. 


If you are applying for a studentship, you must submit your application by the closing date on the studentship advertisement.

All other applicants are expected to apply by the deadlines outlined on the e-prospectus.

Course Name Qualification UCAS Code
Doctor of Philosophy PhD Apply Direct
Education (EdD) Professional Doctorate Apply Direct
Emergency Services Management (DESM) Professional Doctorate Apply Direct
Masters by Research MRes Apply Direct

How to apply

Non-GTA applications to join a research degree should be completed online, using the links below, and all applicants must include:

  1. an outline research proposal detailing the project
    • MRes: 1,000 words
    • Doctoral degrees: 2,000 words
      • Guidance regarding the format of a research proposal for your application can be found here.
  2. an academic CV
  3. evidence of your qualifications e.g. degree certificates
Depending on your circumstances, you may also be required to provide any of the following:
  • If English is not your first language,  you must provide paperwork to demonstrate your English language level such as IELTs or equivalent.  
    • If you are unable to provide this at the point of application, and are successful at interview, meeting our entry language requirements will be a condition your degree offer.
  • If you are employed on a full-time contract , and are applying for a full-time degree, you must include a letter from your employer to confirm you are able to undertake your requested degree and that your employer will accommodate the necessary requirements of this degree. (See tab ‘how much time do you need to devote as a PGR‘ for more details’)
  • If you are applying for a part-time PhD, applicants must provide a statement detailing why they are applying for part-time, rather than full-time, for the PVC Research to consider.It is important to note that the University prioritises full-time applications; it may be possible to apply for a part-time PhD but applications must be approved by the PVC (Research) before an interview can be offered. Part-time PhDs usually take around four and a half years to complete but may take up to six.

To apply, please click the relevant link:

Course Name Qualification UCAS Code
Doctor of Philosophy PhD Apply Direct
Education (EdD) Professional Doctorate Apply Direct
Emergency Services Management (DESM) Professional Doctorate Apply Direct
Masters by Research MRes Apply Direct


Application guidance can be found on the ‘Applicant guidance for research degree applications’ tab on this page.


You should also include details of two academic referees.

Your referees should send references directly to [email protected]:

  • from their academic or professional e-mail accounts, or
  • on their university or company headed paper.

When will you start?

The next  recruitment intake for our research degrees is  February 2022, followed by October 2022. 

  • The institutional induction for October 2021 applicants will be on the 02 October 2021 with additional induction activity week commencing 04 October 2021. 
  • The institutional induction for February 2022 applicants will be on the 05 February 2022 with additional induction activity week commencing 07 February 2022. 

You must attend the full induction programme, commencing on the date stated above. This is a condition of all offers.

The Graduate School will write to successful applicants with details during the summer.

How much time do you need to devote as a PGR?

Each research degree has a maximum completion deadline so in order for you to be able to meet it:

  • Full-time study means you need to commit 35 hours per week to your research project
  • Part-time study means you need to commit 23.5 hours per week to your research project

The time you commit might be spent on a range of project-related activities (so not just reading, writing, data collection, and so on) but you will need to engage with the research culture in your department/faculty and across the University/sector, so you should carefully consider the amount of time you need to dedicate to your research project when making other commitments.

We do not offer research degrees by distance learning.

Fees & studentships

Self-funded PGR applicants

Home applicants (UK & EU)

Tuition fees for PhD, professional doctorate and MRes can be found on the University’s Money Matters web pages.

International PGR applicants (non-EU)

Tuition fees information can be found on the International Office web pages.

Please note: part-time study is subject to certain visa restrictions. Please contact the International Office to check whether the University can sponsor your visa.

How to pay fees

Tuition fees can usually be paid in full on enrolment or in three equal instalments throughout the year. No charge is added for using a credit card.

Please note, if you have outstanding debts of any kind to Edge Hill University you should contact the Finance Department to arrange a formal repayment agreement before applying.


Edge Hill University advertises one type of studentship throughout the year:

Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs)

GTAs are full-time PhD studentships, funded entirely by the University, which include the following for the three year duration of the studentship:

  • a full waiver of PhD tuition fees at the University,
  • teaching/teaching support duties (of up to 6 hours per week on a term time only basis subject to the needs of the particular course/module) paying £9,000 per annum, and
  • a scholarship of £5,500 per annum.

Limited postgraduate student accommodation may be available on campus to new GTAs (subject to availability and charged at standard rates).

Current studentships

Any studentship opportunities are advertised here.

GTAs are normally advertised around December – January each year. Applications (when available) can be made through the University’s jobs webpage.

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