Perspectives on the EdD from Academics at English Universities

  • Brian Poole

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


Since first appearing in British universities during the early 1990s, the Doctor of Education (EdD) degree has spread rapidly through the UK higher education sector. However, despite the existence of a single set of Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) descriptors for doctoral level achievement, some in academia have always been willing to describe the EdD, either openly or in private, as inferior to the PhD. This thesis endeavours (through a wide-ranging questionnaire completed anonymously by 27 academics from a total of 16 English universities, and follow-up interviews with seven individuals selected from the original sample) to discover how a sample of those who teach on such programmes (EdD academics) view the EdD, in general terms. For instance, it seeks to ascertain how widespread among EdD academics is the notion that the EdD does not reach the ‘gold standard’ represented by the PhD in Education.As data collection proceeds from the questionnaire to the interviews, the focus narrows to three key topics: specific characteristics of the EdD as compared with the PhD in Education (in terms, for example, of learning experience, programme aims, and modes of assessment); strengths, weaknesses and purposes of the EdD viva voce examination; and the concept of 'originality' as operationalised by EdD academics/examiners in deciding whether or not an EdD candidate/thesis displays 'doctorateness'. A range of informed and sometimes forthright views from EdD academics on these matters is recorded.On the basis of data analysis and interpretation, the thesis concludes with proposals for further, more extensive research, and a call for one of two courses of action: either the abolition of the EdD, or the appointment of a committee to review EdD practices nationally, and to recommend ways of strengthening EdD rigour and reputation.
Date of Award31 Dec 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorJeff Thompson (Supervisor) & Mary Hayden (Supervisor)


  • doctorateness
  • EdD
  • professional doctorates

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