EdD vs PhD

The EdD is a ‘Professional Doctorate’ which is equivalent in level to a PhD, but includes a modular phase as well as the thesis. It is particularly suited to professionals who aim to link research closely with their existing professional practice. The PhD is more suited to those planning to become professional researchers.

Professional Doctorates


St Luke’s Campus, Exeter; the EdD TESOL is also offered in Dubai.


The EdD is a ‘Professional Doctorate’ which is equivalent in level to a PhD, and is particularly suited to professionals who aim to link research closely with their existing professional practice.

The programme is divided into two ‘phases’. The first ‘pre-thesis phase’ (equivalent to 1 year of full-time study or 2 years of part-time study) offers specialist research-led modules which provide access to current thinking about key issues pertaining to research in your professional field and provide the opportunity to reflect on and experiment with new concepts and ideas, professional understandings of practice, and research skills within a challenging research environment amidst a supportive community of peers. This is followed by a ‘thesis phase’ (equivalent to 2 years of full-time study or 4 years of part-time study) in which you complete a thesis that makes a substantial contribution to knowledge and/or practice within a professional field.

The programme recognises the particular needs, interests and policy contexts of students who are also professionals in their own right, and is flexibly organised to enable doctoral level study alongside existing work commitments. It can be studied on a part-time or full-time basis or, where appropriate, on a mixed full-time/part-time basis and modules are available via blended learning, which provides face-to-face contact with tutors and fellow students mixed with online provision and self-study.

The maximum period of study is 4 years full time or 7 years part time. There is no minimum period of study, but you may not progress to the thesis phase, or submit a thesis for examination, without first having gained the required credits for the pre-thesis phase.

Educational Aims of the programme

The programme aims to enable you to work with theoretical/research knowledge at the forefront of your professional field at peer reviewed standards/publication quality. It also expects you to work with due regard to the ethical challenges and dilemmas of your research focus, and make an original contribution to knowledge and scholarship concerning your profession.

Programme Structure

The Doctor of Education programme is a programme of study at National Qualification Framework (NQF) level 8 (as confirmed against the FHEQ) which offers specialisms in the following fields:

  • Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
  • Professional Educational Psychology (ED PSYCH)
  • Special Needs and Inclusive Education (SNIE)
  • Generic Route, suitable for professionals and policy-makers from across public and private sectors

The programme is divided into units of study called ‘modules’ which are assigned a number of ‘credits’. The credit rating of a module is proportional to the total workload, with 1 credit being nominally equivalent to 10 hours of work.

The programme carries a total of 540 credits and is completed in two ‘Phases’.

Phase 1 (pre-thesis) is normally equivalent to one full-time academic year (12 months) and has a credit rating of 180. This phase is divided into six 30-credit modules. Each module is assessed by means of written assignments (each equivalent to 6,000 words).

To progress to Phase 2 you are required, as a minimum, to complete four ‘core’ modules and two modules in any one of the ‘special fields.’

Phase 2 (thesis) is normally equivalent to two full-time academic years (24 months)and has a credit rating of 360 (the equivalent of 180 credits per year). This phase consists of a single module which entails the completion of a 50,000 word research thesis within the special field chosen in Phase 1.

As the maximum period of study is 4 years full time or 7 years part time it is normally expected that the thesis be submitted by the ‘submission date’ which is 3 years after the commencement of the programme for full-time students and 6 years after the commencement of the programme for part-time students. This is to ensure that the viva voce examination and any amendments required can be completed before the maximum period of study, or ‘completion date’ is reached.

Interim awards

You may exit the programme at the end of Phase 1, with a Masters in Practice-Based Educational Research if you have gained 180 credits in Phase 1. If you exit with this award you may apply to re-enter the programme to complete Phase 2, provided your re-entry is within two years of exiting the programme and provided you have fulfilled the minimum requirements for entry to Phase 2. If you re-enter the programme, you must relinquish the exit award before graduating from Phase 2.

* RAE 2008 based on percentage of research categorised as 4* and 3*