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Education / Lifelong Learning (MPhil / PhD)

As a research student, you will be interested in your own development as a lifelong learner and will seek to engage in critical debate and key issues of education and lifelong learning. You will develop your skills as an independent and active learner, and apply your research skills with theoretical perspectives and understandings of lifelong learning. On completing an MPhil/PhD degree you will have developed advanced skills in research and scholarly writing, and will be able to use these to embark on, or further, a career in research.

An MPhil/PhD is an advanced postgraduate research degree that requires original research and the submission of a substantial dissertation of 60,000 to 100,000 words. At Birkbeck, you are initially registered on an MPhil and you upgrade to a PhD after satisfactory progress in the first year or two. You need to find a suitable academic supervisor at Birkbeck, who can offer the requisite expertise to guide and support you through your research. Find out more about undertaking a research degree at Birkbeck.

We have academic experts in education after the compulsory phase, including adult, community, further and higher education as well as professional learning, and supervision is offered in a range of areas. These include:

  • lifelong learning
  • higher education policy and practice
  • lifelong learning and widening participation policy and practice
  • workplace learning
  • transitions from learning to working
  • the academic workplace
  • professional learning and education
  • post-compulsory education
  • adult education
  • continuing education
  • gender and education
  • education in later life
  • education and social class
  • community-based learning.

Highlights

  • Arts and humanities at Birkbeck are ranked fifth best in London, 18th in the UK and 87th globally in the 2019 Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject.
  • Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, which placed Birkbeck 30th in the UK for research, with 73% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.
  • In the 2014 REF, Sociology at Birkbeck was ranked 13th in the UK.
  • The School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy and the Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication, which hosts this degree, offer committed, enthusiastic and dynamic research-based teaching. Our approach is interdisciplinary and is designed to foster a creative environment for graduate research.
  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    Good Master's degree in a relevant subject.

    International entry requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

    If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months' duration.
    • Courses of less than six months' duration.
    • Pre-sessional English language courses.

    International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our full-time courses (with the exception of modular enrolment certificates of higher education and graduate certificates), as these qualify for Tier 4 sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

  • Fees

    Fees

    Part-time home/EU students: £2296 pa
    Full-time home/EU students: £4327 pa
    Part-time international students: £6375 pa
    Full-time international students: £12625 pa

    Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

    Fees and finance

    From 2018-19, PhD students resident in England can apply for government loans of up to £25,000 to cover the cost of tuition fees, maintenance and other study-related costs.

    Flexible finance: pay your fees in monthly instalments at no extra cost. Enrol early to spread your costs and reduce your monthly payments.

    Fees discounts: If you are a member of a union that is recognised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), you may apply for a 10% discount off your tuition fees.

    The School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy attracts funding for studentships that ensure researchers of the highest standard can pursue their research with us. Find out more about research funding opportunities at Birkbeck.

  • Our Research Culture

    Our Research Culture

    Birkbeck is one of the world’s leading research-intensive institutions. Our cutting-edge scholarship informs public policy, achieves scientific advances, supports the economy, promotes culture and the arts, and makes a positive difference to society.

    We have a range of links with other schools and departments, both in Birkbeck and at other universities, and arrangements for joint supervision according to your interests are therefore possible. You will be able to attend relevant modules run within the School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy, as well as other courses for research students.

    You will be immersed in an academically stimulating and challenging environment, with easy access to high-quality research resources. Read more about our vibrant research culture.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    Follow these steps to apply to an MPhil/PhD research degree at Birkbeck:

    1. Check that you meet the entry requirements, including English language requirements, as described on this page. 

    2. Write a short summary (one or two paragraphs) of your proposed research project and . We will then try to find an appropriate supervisor for you. Please note: we are usually unable to supervise research projects in school education. Find out more about the supervisory relationship and how your supervisor will support your research

    3. If we have a suitable supervisor for your research, we will ask you to provide a more detailed project proposal of approximately 2000 words. We will then invite you to submit a formal application. Find out more about writing a research proposal

    5. Apply directly to Birkbeck, using the online application link on this page. All research students are initially registered on an MPhil and then upgrade to a PhD after making sufficient progress.

    Find out more about the application process, writing a research proposal and the timeframe

    Application deadlines and interviews

    You can apply at any time during the year. Entry months for the programme are October, January and April of each year.

    If you wish to apply for a scholarship, you will need to apply by certain deadlines. Consult the websites of relevant bodies for details.

  • Finding a supervisor

    Finding a supervisor

    A crucial factor when applying for postgraduate study in education and lifelong learning is the correlation between the applicant’s intellectual and research interests and those of one or more potential supervisors within the Department.

    Find out more about the research interests of our academic staff:

    • Professor Claire Callender, BSc, PhD: higher education policy; funding and finances of higher education students, both in the UK and internationally; widening participation; part-time students.
    • Kerry Harman, BA, MCom, PhD: workplace learning; assessment practices in higher education; work-higher education intersections.
    • Professor Miriam Zukas, BSc: professional learning and work; doctors’ transitions in learning; transitions in learning and work; academics’ learning and the academic workplace; adult higher education.