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PhD in Professional Studies / Work Based Learning

MPhil/ PhD in Work Based Learning (003X910) or Professional Studies (003X906)

The Work and Learning Research centre in the Department of Education offers a PhD degree for those candidates who wish to engage in research in the practice-based fields of Work Based Learning and Professional Studies as areas of study and academic inquiry.

These degrees are suitable for advanced practitioners who seek to develop professional knowledge at doctoral level in the academic field, usually with the aim to influence their organisations or communities of practice.

This fast-developing area of practice-based research engages with education and practice theories. Work-related issues can involve a broad conception of the term ‘work’ (paid or unpaid) that contribute to this area of inquiry through independent doctoral study. It is a field that it is transdisciplinary, as professional and work-based practice crosses boundaries of academic disciplines.

Likely areas of inquiry can include, but are not limited to: policy issues regarding work and higher education; issues around professional development; learning and development in communities of practices or organisations; processes of accreditation of learning; pedagogical theories and models underpinning work and learning, the relation between theory and specific contexts of practice; concepts and theories guiding professional practice in a specific field.

Typically, a PhD in work based learning or professional studies will take 4-7 years part-time culminating with a thesis of 40,000 - 80,000 words. All PhD students at Middlesex initially enrol on an MPhil and then transfer to a PhD degree.

PhD in Work-based Learning by Public Works (003X90W)

This part-time degree is specifically for professionals and experts in their fields who already have distinctive and relevant work(s) in the public sphere of the appropriate breadth and depth.

These work(s) could be reports, guides, policy documents, software, artistic works, journal articles, books etc. but they must demonstrate originality. The works will be submitted along with a context statement that reflects and informs the submission of the work(s).

The context statement of 10,000 – 30,000 words is written once the candidate has been registered and enrolled, under supervision with at least 2 supervisors to complete the submission. The degree is of an equivalent level to the PhD by thesis. Examples can be found in the Middlesex Research Repository

More information can be found about this degree here.

PhD study with the Work and Learning Research Centre

Candidates are advised by supervisors experienced in work and learning and directing a practice-oriented approach to doctoral study. A second and sometimes third supervisor is consulted for expert subject knowledge in the academic and/or professional sphere.

PhD candidates join a community of scholars and practitioners at the internationally recognised Work and Learning Research Centre who have been working at the forefront of their field. Candidates are encouraged to publish their work and develop their academic and professional careers.

The University’s Researcher Development Programme runs all year to provide research training either face to face or in the form of webinars accessed remotely. Additionally, the Research Centre provides research tutorials, seminars and meetings with research students, staff and guest speakers aimed at providing academic training in the methodology, epistemology and subject-matter of the field.

PhD or Professional Doctorate (DProf)?

Both degrees meet the quality criteria for doctoral level education, enable candidates to conduct in-depth research and confer the title of Doctor, but there are important differences.

A Professional Doctorate (also offered by the Institute for Work Based Learning) is suitable for individuals who seek to advance professional knowledge in their own field at a doctoral level. It's a degree designed for advanced practitioners who aim to make an impact in their organisation or community of practice. DProf candidates will probably be senior managers or consultants in their field and adopt a stance of inside-researchers, placing their own practice at the centre of inquiry. The outcome of DProf is a project that can take the form of a written dissertation or of an intervention or artefact that fosters change.

A PhD is suitable for individuals who seek to advance knowledge in an academic field of inquiry (in this case Work Based Learning or Professional Studies) through an independent study of theory, practice or policy, either empirical or conceptual. This will take the form of a 80,000-100,000 word dissertation. Contrary to the DProf, the employment status of the candidate is irrelevant as he or she will embark on an independent study aimed at providing academic training in the methodology, epistemology and subject-matter of that field.

For further enquiries about any of these degrees

Please email Professor Carol Costley or call 0208 4116 524.and leave a message

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