The PhD programme is aimed at individuals who wish to become professional researchers. The programme ensures individuals develop a range of skills in social science research methods and are conversant with the philosophy of the social sciences. Students explore their own chosen topic through personal research.

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The PhD by thesis is studied either part-time over six years or full-time over three years. There are no taught components or written assignments and the thesis is based entirely on your own research. PhD research is conducted with the support of a supervisor and students are expected to be based in Leicester or visit on a regular basis.

Enrolment Dates

April and October.


The programme is assessed by the thesis (80,000 words), although PhD candidates will be expected to report regularly to the Department. PhD theses have to be defended at a viva in the presence of two examiners.

Subject areas

We supervise PhD theses in the following subject areas:
  • Labour markets and the   labour process
  • Learning at work
  • Skills acquisition and development
  • Work-life balance
  • Transformation in places of work
  • Employee relations
  • Global work and employment
  • Equal opportunities, policies and practices
  • Vocational education and training
  • Research methodologies in the study of education and employment
  • Age, gender and ethnicity in employment relations
  • The transition from education to work
  • Non-standard forms of labour
  • Communities of practice
  • Comparative study of national education and employment systems
  • Impact of culture on education and work
  • Open learning, distance learning and e-learning
  • Policy-making in education, training and skills
  • Organisational forms and working practices
  • Regional and local labour markets

Read about our current PhD students' research topics...


Entrance is open to those who have a relevant first and Masters degree, preferably at distinction level, and who can demonstrate the capacity to undertake independent research of a high academic standard. We welcome applications both from recently graduated individuals as well as from mature professionals wishing to return to higher education. Applicants are expected to have developed their ideas to proposal stage with regards to the topic for the thesis and submit a proposal at the application stage.


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