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Through its Hibernia/Plymouth Research Node, the College now offers the opportunity for further academic development by working towards a PhD through either full-time (4 years) or part-time (6 years) research.

Students undertaking a Hibernia College PhD will automatically be part of the Plymouth Institute of Education, with doctorates awarded by Plymouth University, and will be registered with both Plymouth University and Hibernia College.

Hibernia College’s PhD in Education offers full and part-time students the ability to undertake doctoral studies in education, with a particular focus on the following key research areas:

  • The impact of learning technologies on learning experiences and teaching practices
  • Innovation in teaching, learning and assessment
  • Innovation in teacher education
  • Internationalisation of postgraduate programmes in teacher education
  • Bridging the gap between theory and practice in education
  • Reflective practice



This programme is for you if you have a particular research question or topic in mind in the field of education, and wish to explore this through independent study in order to produce an original contribution to the subject.

It is suited to those who are practising teachers, or those working in the wider education field, with a passion to pursue their studies further. This research-based doctorate also provides a solid foundation for those aspiring to a research career or an academic career.

This programme is not a taught doctoral programme (EdD), nor is it a ‘professional doctorate’ and there is no mandatory taught or directed study element to the programme. However, PhD students may participate in modules offered through the Hibernia College Masters’ programmes and attend the Plymouth University graduate training programmes.

Contact Information

For further information on any aspect of the PhD Programme, potential applicants should contact the Hibernia College PhD Programme Team:

Dr Teresa Whitaker (Research Node Director and Director of the MATL)


PhD candidates are expected to attend regular supervision meetings and to conduct an annual training needs analysis with supervisors. This identifies which training event or research seminars it would be appropriate for them to attend as part of their research training and professional development as researchers.

Both students and their supervisory team will be required to meet four times per year when registered full-time (3 times per year if part-time) as stipulated in the Plymouth University online Student Log.

These sessions will include the assessment of research progress in the preceding 3-4 months and that planned for the subsequent 3-4 months, a review of personal skills development and public outputs of the research programme. The location of these mandatory supervisory sessions will be decided by the supervisory team.

What do Hibernia College and Plymouth University provide?

Hibernia provides administrative and academic support for the advancement and supervision of doctoral research leading to the award of PhD from Plymouth University Institute of Education.

In practical terms, this means Hibernia provides support for the progression and welfare of the PhD student through the Director of Studies (first supervisor), access to the student support services, a wider research community, research events (seminars and conferences), the opportunity to take part in modules on the Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning and a dedicated Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) with forums, information and support.

Plymouth University is the awarding institution and provides support to the PhD programme through the second supervisor, access to the Doctoral Training Centre for skills training, Plymouth University library, and a wider international research community.

About Plymouth

Plymouth University has a strong track record for teaching and learning and is proud to be among the UK’s top 50 universities for research, with 80 per cent of the submissions made to the most recent government assessment recognised as being of global significance.

The Institute of Education in Plymouth combines excellence in teaching with a very strong commitment to enhancing the student experience.

The Institute of Education is committed to further pedagogical research and evidence-informed practice through three areas of interest and expertise:

  • Learning outside formal education
  • Voice, inclusion and participation
  • Professional theory and practice

Fees for full time students - 4 years (2015-2016)


    EU € 8,185 per annum
    International € 16,450 per annum
  • 1 YEAR OF WRITING UP (Reduced fee)

    € 430 (EU and International)

    EU € 4,092
    International € 8,225

Fees for part time students - 6 years (2015-2016)


    EU € 4,890 per annum
    International € 8,225 per annum
  • 2 YEARS OF WRITING UP (Reduced fee)

    € 430 (EU and International) per annum

    EU € 2,445
    International € 4,112

Entry Requirements

The standard entry requirements are:

  • A masters degree by a UK university or a degree of a non-UK institution deemed to be of equal standing to a UK degree, or
  • A first class or second upper class first bachelor degree award by a UK university or a degree of a non-UK institution deemed to be of equal standing to a UK degree, or
  • A professional qualification recognised as equivalent to a degree, or
  • Other qualifications and experience that have demonstrated that the applicant can meet the challenges and demands of the programme, and
  • Two satisfactory reports from academic referees. Verbal or e-mail references may not be accepted.

Applicants to the PhD programme will be interviewed and may also be asked to provide an example of written work.


Applicants wishing to apply for the self-funded programme should contact Aoife McCarron ( for further details. The next cohort of PhD students will be starting in April 2016 and September 2016.

  • Initial Research Proposals will be submitted to the PhD Programme team.
  • Proposals will be screened for suitability in relation to topic area and potential supervisory team, and suitable applicants will be shortlisted to be interviewed.
  • Interviews of shortlisted candidates will take place.
  • Following interviews referees will be contacted for a verbal reference.
  • From the shortlisted interviews students will be selected.
  • Selected applicants will then submit their full application (Plymouth University Postgraduate Application form) to Hibernia College. The College will then submit these applications to Plymouth University for processing.
  • Once the applications have been processed by Plymouth University, the formal offer letter will be issued to the candidate from Plymouth.
  • Successful applicants will be registered and enrolled and will commence the PhD programme.

Initial Research Proposal

The research proposal is designed to allow the college to assess the quality of your research ideas and the feasibility of your proposed research project in the time frame available to you. The proposal also gives you the opportunity to showcase your knowledge and expertise in the area of research interest and your knowledge of existing literature on the topic. It will also help to identify potential supervisors.

Most importantly it also gives you a chance to communicate your passion for your subject area and convince the readers of the importance of your project.

The research proposal is not set in stone – it is normal for PhD students to revise and refine their original proposal, so it should be viewed as an initial outline of your ideas rather than the final plan for the project.

The Initial Research Proposal form provides a structure for you to present your research ideas in 2,000 words and the key areas covered include:

  • What is the topic of your research?
  • What question(s) will you aim to answer?
  •   What are your reasons for undertaking this research (including some theoretical justification and review of research that has been done in the field)?
  • What data will you need to collect to carry out your research (do you already have access to your data source)?
  • What are your proposed research method(s) and/or your plans for how you will begin your research?

Your proposal must include a reference list and should not replicate work that you have already undertaken at master’s or other level (although it can build on this work).

Why do a PhD?

Doing a PhD is partly about the creation and interpretation of new knowledge, extending the boundaries of the particular subject the PhD student is researching, but is also about the development of the individual, the person doing the research.

Through completing a PhD the person proves that they are a competent researcher in a particular field, with relevant skills and knowledge.

Plymouth University and the Hibernia College Node are committed to the highest standards of learning and research. In the UK qualities and standards in universities are overseen by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), the body in the UK responsible for ensuring that students have the best possible learning experience, and the QAA provide a useful summary of what the outcomes of a PhD experience should be for students.

 PhD doctorates are awarded to students who have demonstrated:

  • The creation and interpretation of new knowledge, through original research or other advanced scholarship, of a quality to satisfy peer review, extend the forefront of the discipline, and merit publication
  • A systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge which is at the forefront of an academic discipline or area of professional practice
  • The general ability to conceptualise, design and implement a project for the generation of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of the discipline, and to adjust the project design in the light of unforeseen problems
  • A detailed understanding of applicable techniques for research and advanced academic enquiry.

Typically, holders of a doctoral qualification will be able to:

  • Make informed judgements on complex issues in specialist fields, often in the absence of complete data, and be able to communicate their ideas and conclusions clearly and effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • Continue to undertake pure and/or applied research and development at an advanced level, contributing substantially to the development of new techniques, ideas, or approaches
  • Demonstrate the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and largely autonomous initiative in complex and unpredictable situations, in professional or equivalent environments.

Other Questions

If you have any additional questions, please email us at

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