Key information



Types of study

Part time


4-6 years

Start date

September each year

The EdD programme welcomes applications for entry in September 2024. The deadline for the complete set of required application documents (see details under ‘How to apply’ below) is set to be 23.59 on 15 May 2024! 

Programme overview

This programme is an exciting opportunity for experienced education professionals to develop the critical knowledge and skills necessary to undertake their own research and thereby improve their educational practices and contexts.

The Professional Doctorate brings people together from across education sectors to work as a cohort in a series of weekend study schools and then on an extended piece of original research. The programme is directed by Professor Anwei Feng and taught by an established team of nationally and internationally recognised education scholars who boast a wide range of expertise and experience in research, teaching, and policy work.

The programme has a focus on theoretically-informed, applied educational research as a basis for understanding and transforming education understanding, practices, and contexts across a range of sectors. It seeks to explore the connections between policy, research and professional knowledge and practice. At all times students will be expected to develop their own arguments and critical standpoint in relation to education research.

We look forward to welcoming motivated applicants with research aspirations to this exciting programme.

Programme structure introduction

The Professional Doctorate in Education (EdD) will recruit for a September start each year. Students will normally take a minimum of four years part-time to complete the degree although students may take up to six years. The programme is divided into two Parts as described below and candidates will be awarded the Professional Doctorate if they successfully complete Part II by submitting a thesis or portfolio of 50-60,000 words and undergo a viva voce examination. Progression to Part II is predicated upon successful completion of Part I.

The structuring of the programme in this way is designed to support busy professionals undergoing part time study and allows exit routes, where appropriate, for students who for whatever reason are not able to complete the full programme.

Part Ⅰ

The first part of the programme is taught in a series of eight weekend schools (on Saturdays and Sundays; two weekend schools per module). The timing of these weekends has avoided major holiday periods (for China, e.g. May Day, Mid-Autumn and National Day). Some participants will travel from a distance for study weekends and information about accommodation in the University can be obtained from the Faculty Office, although course participants could easily organise their own alternative in nearby hotels.

Module 1: Understanding Education Knowledge

This introductory module explores what it means to be a researching professional by developing critical perspectives on knowledge and practice in educational settings. It considers how policy, research, professional, pedagogic, and practical knowledge is created, contested and/or consumed by education policymakers, professionals, and practitioners. Drawing upon a range of approaches to, and ideas about, knowledge-work the module allows participants to explore these forms of knowledge within areas of education that are of particular concern to individuals and/or subgroups within the cohort.

Module 2: Methodology and Methods for Researching Education

This module explores the challenges of designing good education research studies, particularly when researching one’s context or practice. This includes consideration of the peculiar ethical and practical difficulties faced by insider researchers. Some introduction is made to common methodological frameworks and techniques but generally the emphasis is less upon research methods training and more upon developing the dispositions needed for doctoral research (e.g. criticality, reflexivity, positionality).

Module 3: Reviewing Literature for Researching Education

Module 3 is about how to develop a critical review of research literature, specifically in relation to students' own professional interests. Some of the theoretical ‘big ideas’ in educational research are explored as well as how these might be used by researching professionals. The module is informed by the work covered in Modules 1 and 2 and aims to integrate theory, methodology, and techniques.

Module 4: Key Debates and Issues for Researching Education

The final taught module builds on Module 1 and allows participants to take a more in depth look at educational practice within their own sector. Participants will explore relevant and key debates and literatures which will be useful in framing their ideas for developing the research proposal in Part II of the programme. The assessment from this module is likely to act as a springboard for the programme of research for Part II.

Part Ⅱ

Part II starts with compulsory attendance at the Summer School undertaken at the end of Year 2. There will be an expectation that participants return each year during summer school to form an ongoing community of researching education professionals. At this time relevant, optional short courses can be made available and there will be opportunities to present work in progress. There will also be an explicit focus on planning the strategic dissemination of research to colleagues, the wider profession, and the education community in general.

All candidates will go through a Confirmation of Research Status process at the end of the first year in Part II. This will include a submission of a paper of 10-12,000 words and will involve a Viva Voce examination.

In Part II of the programme, participants undertake a sustained programme of research in their own education sub-field, focused on their own context and/ or practice. This should take a minimum of two years and can take two forms:

  • Thesis of 50-60,000 words based on a single empirical study, or
  • A portfolio of 50-60,000 words consisting of three linked pieces of research (3 x 10,000 words) and a 20,000-word overview and meta-analysis. This can, where appropriate, include educational products (e.g. film, design research outputs, software) as part of the submission but this would be in addition to the requisite 50,000 words.

Programme Tutors and Supervisors

You can expect to be taught and supervised by nationally and internationally recognised members of the School of Education and English at UNNC supported by a range of tutors drawn from an established, UK-based team of internationally recognised education scholars who boast a wide range of expertise and experience in research, teaching, and policy work. While supervisors are allocated from the broader staff as appropriate to the needs of your Part II study, the core programme tutor/ supervisor team consists of:

Professor Anwei Feng

Anwei Feng is Professor of Education and leader of the Professional Doctorate in Education (EdD) programme at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC). He joined UNNC in September 2013. Prior to that, he had had teaching and research experience in tertiary institutions in many countries/regions such as China, Qatar, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the UK. He teaches, supervises, and researches in bilingualism and bilingual education, intercultural studies in education, TESOL, international and comparative education, and language policy for minority groups.

Professor Bob Adamson

Bob Adamson is Visiting Professor in Curriculum & Comparative Education in the School of Education and English at UNNC. He formerly held the UNESCO Chair at The Education University of Hong Kong. He has published in the areas of language policy and pedagogy, multilingual education, comparative education, curriculum studies and higher education. He was awarded the “European Label for Innovative Initiatives in the Field of Language Learning” by the European Union in 2006. In 2013, he was honoured by the Qinghai Provincial Government with the title of "Kunlun Expert" (昆仑学者).

Professor John Trent

John Trent is Visiting Professor in Education in the School of Education and English at UNNC. Currently, he is also Professor of Education and Associate Dean of the Graduate School at The Education University of Hong Kong, where he teaches language teaching methodology and research methods courses to postgraduate students and supervises doctoral students. His research interests include teacher identity, narrative analysis, and teacher education. His research output has appeared in a range of international journals, including the Journal of Teacher Education, TESOL Quarterly, Teaching and Teacher Education, Journal of Vocational Education and Training, Teacher Development, and Teachers and Teaching.

Professor Geoff Hall

Geoff Hall is Visiting Professor in Stylistics in the School of Education and English at UNNC. His current research interests include literary stylistics, intercultural communication and global Englishes and China. He formerly served as Assistant Editor since 1999, Chief Editor from 2010 to 2016 of the journal Language & Literature (Sage) and a member of Poetics and Linguistics Association since 1988. His book Literature in Language Education (Palgrave 2005; 2nd ed. 2015) is widely cited and is also found on relevant postgraduate reading lists around the world.

Professor Margaret Dowens

Margaret Dowens is Visiting Professor in Psycholinguistics in the School of Education and English and Director of the Cognitive Neuroscience of Language Laboratory at UNNC. Her current neurolinguistic research is in the areas of bi/multilingualism and the effects of aging on language learning using both off-line behavioural measures such as accuracy and reaction times and on-line neuroimaging techniques such as Event-Related Potentials. She is also interested in the effects of late second language learning on cognitive aging and the applications of these findings to language learning and teaching.

Entry requirements

The programme is only open to domestic Chinese including citizens from Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan as well as Mainland China. UNNC international staff are also eligible to apply.

A candidate for the Professional Doctorate in Education degree must:

(a) be a graduate of any approved university holding a Bachelor’s degree (normally first- or second-class Honours or equivalent) and normally holding an appropriate Master’s degree,or

(b) hold such other qualifications as may, on the recommendation of the School, be deemed to be equivalent to the qualifications referred to in (a)

(c) have a minimum of two years’ professional experience within a relevant field.

English language requirements

If your first language is not English you will be required to provide proof of your English language ability. You must provide evidence of competence in English as follows (minimum required standard stated):

  • IELTS: Overall 7.0, with no less than 6.0 in each element
  • TOEFL (internet-based): Overall 100, with no less than 19 in Writing and Listening, 20 in Reading and 22 in Speaking 

How to apply

First of all, please note that the EdD programme is only open for September entry. Thus, please ensure that you choose the correct entry in the application system.

You are strongly advised to apply early as competition for places is keen. You must allow at least one month for processing your application before the deadline for application. Please make sure that your application package includes the following:

  • A completed online application form submitted via UNNC Application Hub
  • Copies of degree certificates for undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Applicants who obtained a degree from a Chinese University must provide  the English “Online Verification Report of Higher Education Qualification Certificate” obtained from China Higher Education Student Information (CHSI中国高等教育学生信息网) or a certified English translation of the above documents by the attended university with its official stamp (on university headed paper, preferably)
  • Chinese applicants who obtained a degree abroad or in Taiwan, Hong Kong, or Macau must provide the certification obtained from the Chinese Service Centre for Scholarly Exchange   
  • Official transcripts with marks for all individual modules/ courses from undergraduate and postgraduate studies with English translation
  • Two references submitted via UNNC Application Hub
  • English language test score (IELTS/TOEFL) (not required for native English speakers)
  • A piece of recent academic writing (e.g. a chapter from a Master’s dissertation in English of about 2-3,000 words, a paper published in English, or a 1,500-word reflection on why you would like to follow the EdD programme)
  • A copy of ID card (for Chinese nationals, both sides of Chinese ID cards required) or passport (for UNNC international staff applicants only)
  • An electronic copy of passport-sized photo taken within three months of this application
  • A brief CV

Please note:

  • Documents submitted in any language other than English (except from prospects with a Chinese national ID, Chinese university degree certificate/graduation diploma, or certification provided by the Chinese Service Centre for Scholarly Exchange) must be accompanied by an English translation.
  • When completing your application, you will need to upload all required supporting documents listed above except for the English language score report.
  • If you would like to supplement a qualified English language test report after your application is submitted, please send it to, quoting your name and application number.
  • Potential course members are usually interviewed before an offer of a place is made.

More information about the application process can be found at step-by-step guide.

Fees and funding


  • 55,000 RMB per annum, subject to inflationary increases in further sessions

More information

Student Recruitment and Admission Office (before application submission)

Room 231, Trent Building
University of Nottingham Ningbo China
199 Taikang East Road, Ningbo, 315100, China

T. +86 (0) 574 8818 0182

Graduate School (after application submission)

Room 451-2, Trent Building
University of Nottingham Ningbo China
199 Taikang East Road, Ningbo, 315100, China


Professor Anwei Feng

University of Nottingham Ningbo China
199 Taikang East Road, Ningbo, 315100, China