Moray House School of Education and Sport

PhD programme structure

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is expected to take three years full-time or six years part-time.


At Moray House, we offer a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) taken three years full-time or six years part-time. The first full-time year of the PhD degree is probationary and progress to year two is subject to satisfactory progress and passing the first-year progression board.

All research degrees culminate in the submission of a thesis. The PhD thesis should be up to 100,000 words.

You may start your studies with us either on the 1st October or the 1st January of a year.


There are no compulsory courses or modules on research degrees as these programmes are purely research degrees.

There are several School and University seminars and training courses available for research students, as well as a large number of postgraduate courses that students may audit if they wish. You will be encouraged to attend such courses when appropriate during your studies as part of your skill development, following discussions with your supervisor(s).

Research supervision

As a research student, you will be supported by supervisors with strong skills and expertise in the areas of your research. For the PhD programme, you will be supported by at least two supervisors.

Supervisors and their areas of expertise

Skill development

You will have the opportunity to develop your presentation skills, and practice presenting your research to fellow students and staff at regular monthly sessions organised by the School. 

You will have several opportunities for optional training and development throughout your studies. Research students are encouraged to attend and actively engage with the activities of one or more research cluster, which include seminars, meetings and workshops.

Research expertise

With over 250 research staff and students, we have a vibrant and expanding research community with a broad portfolio of academic disciplines gathered within seven broad research themes with permeable boundaries. The expert research at Moray House School of Education and Sport is organised into these thematic hubs:

Research & Knowledge Exchange at Moray House 

PhD by Distance option

Our PhD by Distance route allows students who are unable to commit to basing themselves in Edinburgh to study for a PhD in the fields of Education and Sport from their home country or city. 

The PhD by Distance is not intended to be an online learning programme. It is a PhD which you have chosen to study at a distance, having taken into account the challenges around access to resources that this may involve. It is available to suitably qualified applicants in the same areas as our on-campus programmes.

Students enrolled on this programme will be expected to come to Edinburgh at least once per year of study to meet with their supervisor(s). The length and timing of these visits are negotiable but students should expect to spend at least two weeks at the University of Edinburgh during each year of study. This could be for the annual review process, or to attend research training courses. It is also expected that PhD by Distance students will come to Edinburgh for their oral examination (viva voce).

PhD by Distance students will receive the same level of academic support from their supervisory team as on-campus students. The frequency with which students will meet with their supervisors and method of communication for supervision sessions will be provisionally agreed at the point of application and confirmed during induction. You will be expected to attend at least one face-to-face supervision session each year, with additional meetings and regular communication.

Further detail on the University's Code of Practice for Supervisors and Research Students

Please be aware that some funding bodies do not permit students to study by distance. For example, both ESRC and AHRC regulations currently state that students must live within the same area as the Institution where they are studying.

Applying to study for a PhD by Distance

The entry requirements for the PhD by Distance are the same as for the School’s on-campus programmes.  

In addition, applicants wishing to study by Distance must complete and submit the following form with their PhD application.

Applicants should provide information about any previous experience of distance study, together with a statement detailing the potential risks and characteristics of distance learning. Experience of studying at a distance is desirable; however, this is not a specific requirement for admission. It is important that applicants demonstrate an awareness of the challenges of this mode of study. 

Applicants must provide details of the access they will have to research facilities at their usual site of study and whether a local advisor is proposed. Applications to the PhD by Distance will only be accepted if applicants have access to local University-standard library facilities and to the internet.

Applicants will also be required to discuss and complete a provisional study plan in consultation with their proposed principal supervisor as part of the admissions process.

International students wishing to study part-time will be considered for this Distance programme.

There is no guarantee that a request to study by distance will be granted where an offer to study on-campus might be made.