Doctor of Education
Structure of the Degree
For those entering the programme with an approved Master's degree, the degree comprises 6 taught units and a dissertation of not more than 45,000 words. Each unit normally consists of 15 hours contact time plus a further 60 hours of associated study time including the writing of an assignment of 4,000 words. The units are presented on an intensive basis and are taught by faculty members of the Bristol University Graduate School of Education who have international reputations in their field, sometimes with inputs from contributors with local expertise.
Period of Study
The 6 taught units will be presented over a period of two to three years, after which students will begin the work for their dissertations. Students are expected to complete the programme within four to six years, and is possible to be extended to a maximum of seven years.
Taught Units Overview
A. Mandatory Units
- Understanding Educational Research
- Conducting Educational Research: Theory, Methodology and Methods
B. Choose any TWO units from the following units
- Leading for Educational Change in Organizational Settings
- Education Policy
C. Choose any TWO units from the following units
- Educational Assessment and Evaluation
- Global Higher Education
- Comparative Research
- Testing and Assessment in Language Learning
- Learning with New Technologies
- Evaluating Educational Quality and Improvement in Organisational Settings
- Supervised Individual Study
The Taught Units
A. Mandatory Units
Understanding Educational Research
This unit will review core issues from the philosophy of social science, and will offer students a conceptual framework to support their understanding of major research paradigms in social science and education. This framework will then be used to classify educational studies and to examine the validity of evidence and analysis in a number of cases. Through participative activities involving the presentation, classification, critique and defence of significant projects, the course will demonstrate the ways in which theories, research designs, ethical principles and methods influence data-sets and their interpretation. The projects selected will be drawn from recently published books which have influenced policy, planning or practice in education. Through lecture and debate, the unit will also address objectivity and subjectivity in educational research. In conclusion, the unit will focus on the worthwhileness and relevance of research findings and their application for policy and practice. Links will be drawn with the process of conducting research for a higher degree.
Conducting Educational Research: Theory, Methodology and Methods
The unit is aimed at anyone with an interest in developing a robust theoretical and methodological approach to systematically researching an aspect of education, including educational leadership and management, teaching and learning, policy and evaluation.
Building upon the content of Understanding Educational Research, the course will be developed in three parts to provide a link between the objectives for research and approaches to their investigation. It connects social theories of the world with design decisions and a range of methods for undertaking research. In Part 1 the question of knowledge in context is introduced, situating scientific knowledges in relation to realism and other knowledges and practices. In Part 2 we develop an understanding of methodology and the design and comparative approaches and analysis decisions that flow from particular theoretical approaches and paradigms. In Part 3 we introduce a range of data collection methods that might be considered, including: questionnaire design; interviewing; systematic and video observation; participant observation; documentary evidence; secondary datasets. An introduction to a range of forms of analysis will also be covered, such as: discourse analysis, data modelling and statistical inference; grounded theorising; and comparative and textual, video and documentary analysis. Examples of research which illustrate the link between theory, methodology and methods will be drawn from current and recent research projects undertaken within the Graduate School, and from a range of other organisational settings. The strengths and weaknesses of particular pieces of research will be assessed. Web-based and other resources to inform and guide the selection and use of research methods will be highlighted (eg ESRC NCRM).
B. Choose any TWO units from the following units
The unit will centre on developing understanding of the process of learning within a range of educational settings. The focus will be predominantly on socio-cultural perspectives of learning and how these relate to wider theoretical perspectives. The unit will allow participants to critically examine the relationship between teaching, learning and assessment within a range of educational settings as well as considering the two-way knowledge exchange between informal and formal learning. The substantive areas covered will include learning as mediated action, learning with new technologies and learning within institutional settings.
Leading for Educational Change in Organizational Settings
The unit will seek to develop a critical awareness of the key issues and challenges facing leaders in education in the UK and internationally during times of turbulent change. It is aimed at future and potential leaders from all sectors and across all levels of education. The unit will allow participants to examine leadership and management theory, to interpret cutting edge research and to apply insights to their own contexts through developing case studies. The substantive areas covered will include the contexts of leadership and change in educational settings; understanding the change process; organisational cultures and learning; changing modes of professionalism; models of leadership for change.
The topics to be considered will include: the nature and scope of policy studies and policy analysis; perspectives on educational policy analysis; key constituencies and players in educational policy making; political ideologies and their influence on educational policy; the processes of educational policy formulation; the impact of research on policy. These theories and concepts will be applied to the analysis of particular policies and issues e.g. audit and inspection; the marketisation of education.
C. Choose any TWO units from the following units
Educational Assessment and Evaluation
The unit looks at contemporary issues in theory, policy and practice of educational assessment internationally. Research on assessment in schools, higher education and vocational settings will be included in the course. Educational standards and the relationship between assessment and learning will be key themes.
Global Higher Education
This unit is concerned with Global Higher Education and will be based around theories of globalisation, internationalisation and regionalisation in understanding the development of higher education across different national contexts. The significance of global league tables and the huge increase in numbers of international students around the globe means that higher education in all countries is positioned within the global landscape and this has implications for national higher education policies and debates on the funding and governance processes of the higher education sector. The unit draws on a wide range of disciplinary literature within sociology, geography and cultural studies as well as the wider literature on higher education.
Much can be learned from the experience of other education systems, but disciplined and systematic comparative research also draws attention to the dilemmas of the transfer of educational policy and practice from one context to another. Drawing upon detailed analyses of contemporary comparative and international studies, and upon research projects carried out within the Graduate School of Education, this unit examines how we may best learn from, and apply, comparative perspectives in both our professional work and research and scholarship. The unit focuses upon the potential and pitfalls of education policy transfer, upon issues relating to the quality of education, upon the place of context and culture, and upon the importance of forging strong linkages between educational research, and policy and practice.
Testing and Assessment in Language Learning
This unit provides an overview of current developments in theories and practices of language testing and assessment. We explore approaches and the processes of language test construction and validation as well as classroom-based assessment, and review current developments in the field through consideration of the principles underlying best practice in language testing and assessment. We focus on the development and validation of tests and other procedures used to assess the language development, achievement and proficiency of speakers of English as a foreign or additional language, and the research methods relevant to these tasks. Indicative content areas include language assessment as socially situated practice, assessment for learning, the Common European Framework of Reference, assessment of different language skills (e.g., the development and validation of rating scales, integrated writing tasks, observation driven approaches to classroom/teacher assessment, self-/peer-assessment), washback, and power, and ethics and fairness in language testing as social practice.
Learning with New Technologies
This unit focuses on the ways in which new technologies can be used to enhance and transform the capabilities and practices of both individuals and organisations across a range of sectors and settings. Participants will consider digital technologies and environments and the ways in which they are embedded in our everyday lives and how they can be harnessed for teaching and learning. There will be three strands to the course: reading and discussion of relevant literature and theoretical perspectives; critical analysis of a range of digital-environments through “hands on” work; evaluation of the effects of the use of a computer environment for learning or management.
Evaluating Educational Quality and Improvement in Organisational Settings
This unit is designed for those interested in designing, managing, delivering and evaluating quality education in all fields. It will review research and experience relating to educational effectiveness, improvement and quality assurance in organisational settings and consider the implications for policy and practice. It will focus on research into the organisational factors that correlate with effective outcomes, both in UK and worldwide, and consider strategies for promoting quality and improvement at local, national and organisational levels, as well as a range of qualitative and quantitative methods for evaluating quality (eg large-scale programme evaluation, case studies, inspection frameworks, peer review, league tables). Students will be invited to present case studies based on their experience and critically reflect on the usefulness of the theoretical and conceptual ideas discussed.
Supervised Individual Study
This unit is available in the exceptional circumstances that require an individually negotiated programme of study, submission of work and assessment that could not be met by any other available unit in the programme. The unit devised for these purposes must be consistent with and contribute to significant aspects of the Programme Specification.
Not more than 45,000 words.