Key information



Types of study

Part time


4-6 years

Start date


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. If you have queries about the programme, please feel free to contact the Graduate School at to For queries about academic matters, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Introduction to EdD programme: Link

Professor Anwei Feng
Programme Leader

Research interests


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 UNNC. He joined The University of Nottingham Ningbo Campus (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).

Associate Professor Dr John Lowe

John Lowe is Associate Professor at the School of Education UNNC. He has taught, researched and worked in various capacities in more than twenty countries worldwide. His central research interest has always been the relationship between education and social change but the specific focus has shifted over the years. Currently, he has two main research interests, international higher education and transitions from education to work in the context of a global knowledge economy. He has a particular interest in Chinese higher education and Chinese international students and he is engaged in collaborative research with Chinese colleagues in these areas.

Associate Professor Dr Ashley Ng Yoon Mooi AMN

Ashley Ng is Associate Professor in Education and is the Director of the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programme in UNNC. She joined the University of Nottingham Ningbo China in September 2019. Prior to that she was attached to the University of Nottingham Malaysia. She had taught in Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Mumbai (India) and was involved in the training of principals and future leaders of Bangladesh, a project funded by the World Bank. She teaches, supervises and researches on school leadership and management, teacher education, school improvement and research methods to post graduate students.

Professor Rui Yang

Rui Yang is Visiting Professor in the School of Education and English at UNNC. He is Professor and Associate Dean for Research at the Faculty of Education in the University of Hong Kong. With an impressive track record on research at the interface of Chinese and Western traditions in education, he has established his reputation among scholars in English and Chinese national languages in the fields of comparative and international education and Chinese higher education. His research interests include education policy sociology, comparative and cross-cultural studies in education, international higher education, educational development in Chinese societies, and international politics in educational research.

Programme structure introduction

The Professional Doctorate will recruit for a September start each year. Students will normally take a minimum of four years part-time to complete the degree although typical 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

(taught element: attendance at eight weekend schools is compulsory)

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 (eg. 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/III.

Part Ⅱ

(Thesis Stage)

Part II starts with compulsory attendance at the Summer School undertaken at the end of year two. 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 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
  • Production of a 50-60,000 word Portfolio typically consisting of three linked pieces of research (3x 10,000) 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.

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 (EdD) degree must:

(a) be a graduate of the University of Nottingham (or any other approved university) holding a Bachelor’s degree (normally first or second class Honours or equivalent) and normally holding an appropriate Masters degree or

(b) hold such other qualifications as may, on the recommendation of the School, be deemed by Senate 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 21 in listening, 22 in reading, 23 in speaking and 21 in writing

How to apply

How to apply

Please kindly note that the application deadline for the 2021 EdD cohort is 15 May. 

Applications can be made throughout the year, although you can only enter the programme in September, if you are admitted. You are strongly advised to apply early as competition for places is keen. You must allow at least three months for processing your application before the September commencement of the programme. Please make sure that your application includes the following:

  • A completed application form
  • Copies of degree certificates for undergraduate and postgraduate studies with English translation (Xueli certificates are required too for applicants from Chinese universities)
  • Official transcripts with marks for all individual modules/courses from undergraduate and postgraduate studies (with official university stamp)
  • Two references must be emailed to directly by the referees
  • English language test score (IELTS/ PTE academic) (not required for native English speakers)
  • One academic writing(see Note below)
  • A copy of passport (international applicants) or ID card (Chinese nationals, both sides of Chinese ID cards required)
  • An electronic copy of passport-sized photo taken within three months of this application
  • A brief CV

Note: As part of this process applicants will be expected to provide a piece of recent academic writing, e.g., a chapter from a Master’s dissertation of about 2-3000 words, or a paper published in English, or a 1500 word reflection on why they would like to follow the Professional Doctorate programme. Potential course members are usually interviewed before any offer of a place is made.

Please also note:

  • documents submitted in any language other than English (except from prospects with a Chinese national ID or certification provided by the Chinese Service Centre for Scholarly Exchange) must be accompanied by an English translation.

  • preferably, all the documents should be submitted in e-form to

Our step-by-step guide contains everything you need to know about applying for postgraduate research.

Fees and funding


  • Domestic (Chinese) student fees for 2021 are 55,000 RMB per annum
  • International student fees for 2021 are 55,000 RMB per annum

Note that fees are subject to inflationary increases in further sessions.


More information

Graduate School enquires

Room 340-341, 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