Skip to main content Skip to navigation

What do our research students think of Education Studies at Warwick?

Our students

See what some of our students and alumni have to say about our courses.

Kevin Zhou

kevin_zhou_photo.pngCourse: PhD (funded by Warwick-China Scholarship Council Joint Research Scholarship (CSC))

Topic area: Education for Sustainable Development; China; Primary Education; Just Transition

Supervisors: Dr. Nick Lee & Dr. Michael Wyness

Work history before/during my studies: Before I came to Warwick, I spent 10 years studying and working in the United States. I was working in a policy advocacy firm in Washington D.C. prior joining Warwick.

Why I decided to enrol on a PhD: During my MA in Education Leadership and Management, I became drawn to Environmental Education and developed an interest in the global sustainable development agenda. Fortunately, one of my MA supervisors specialized in Education for Sustainable Development. As a result, we decided to continue my research on Education for Sustainable Development for a PhD degree.

Why I chose Warwick and DES: First, Warwick enjoys a strong international reputation, and DES provides an environment that aligns closely with my interests and career aspirations. Second, I was tired of the mega-city feel of New York and wanted to live in a place that is closer to nature and less noisy.

My favourite aspect of the course so far: My absolute favourite event hosted in DES is the ‘Doggy De-stress’ hosted by Dr. Sarah Dahl. She brings her dog, Kella, to the department, allowing students to spend quality time with her as a way to alleviate PhD stress!

My most challenging aspect of the course so far: Covid was probably the biggest challenge because everyone had to stay home. But the department offered many supports during the period.

Top tip for students thinking of applying: My recommendation is on communication. It is essential to find a PhD supervisor that aligns your research interests. Before sending out your application, take the time to thoroughly review the profiles and publications of potential supervisors in the DES. Once you've identified potential supervisors, reach out to them with a well-structured email. The more specific you can be about how your interests align with theirs, the better. Best of luck!

Cat Jones


Course: PhD (Funded by ESRC)

Topic area: Parental engagement, family engagement, home-school partnerships, parent-teacher relationships, teacher education

Supervisors: Prof. Olympia Palikar and Dr. Pontso Moorosi

Work history before/during my studies: After my undergraduate degree (BA Experimental Psychology), I trained as a primary school teacher. I juggled full time teaching with part time study (MA Educational Leadership), before applying for a PhD. I have continued working on the National Tutoring Programme and serving as a school governor.

Why I decided to enrol on a PhD: I wasn't planning on doing a PhD when I started my Masters, but I loved the research element of the MA, and I still felt like I had unfinished business with the topic of parental engagement once I had submitted my MA dissertation!

Why I chose Warwick and DES: I had great support from all the academic staff when I did my MA in DES at Warwick, so I had no doubts about reapplying to the department for my PhD.

My favourite aspect of the course so far: What I love most is the variety of opportunities available. I’ve been able to teach undergraduates, work as a research assistant, and attend prestigious national and international conferences.

My most challenging aspect of the course so far: Time management during a PhD is challenging because the tasks and timescales are very different from other levels of study. I’ve had to learn to be simultaneously very disciplined and very flexible!

Top tip for students thinking of applying: Spend plenty of time thinking about what you want to research and which supervisor might be a good match. Your topic and your supervisor will be a big part of your life for several years, so it’s well worth putting time into those big decisions.

Lukmanul Hakim

Course: PhD (funded by LPDP Scholarship from The Government of Indonesia)lukman_hakim_photo.jpg

Topic area: Early Childhood Education, Education Policy

Supervisors: Dr Sarah Dahl & Dr Michael Wyness

Work history before/during my studies: I am a senior official at the Ministry of Education and Culture, Indonesia. I am currently working part time as a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the Department of Education, University of Warwick.

Why I decided to enrol on a PhD: In the beginning, the ideal reason to pursue a PhD was to gain a better understanding of the area of early childhood policy and how to better understand its ways of working at the national level. I also had the intention of upgrading my career within the Ministry of Education.

Why I chose Warwick and DES: When I decided to do a PhD, I did a lot of research on where to study. I was looking for a good university that was located in a small city. In my research on DES, I discovered that it has a strong faculty working on early childhood topics as well as education policy development.

My favourite aspect of the course so far: The most enjoyable aspect of the programme so far has been the discussion and exchange regarding the research topic with my supervisor. Each discussion gives me a wider horizon on my understanding regarding my topic.

My most challenging aspect of the course so far: The PhD is about perseverance. The PhD is truly a long term project, with requires a strong spirit and conviction.

Top tip for students thinking of applying: If you are considering coming to Warwick, you can initiate contact with any faculty that has the same research interests as you and you will be surprised at how helpful they are. You are just an email away to be part of DES at Warwick University.

Mohammed Adly Gamal


Course: PhD (funded by the Chancellor’s International Scholarship)

Topic area: Islamic and Citizenship Education, Global Citizenship, Civic virtue

Supervisors: Dr Abdullah Sahin and Dr Judith Everington

Work history before/during my studies: Over the past 20 years, I have specialised in teaching Arabic as a second language, Islamic studies, and Theory of Knowledge (TOK) within internationally renowned schools adhering to the educational philosophy of International Baccalaureate, across multiple countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.

Why I decided to enrol on a PhD: As an educator, I wanted to bridge the gap between the theory and practice and to enrich my knowledge of cutting-edge educational research.

Why I chose Warwick and DES: Consequently, I sought academic departments that embody and espouse the ideal of epistemic diversity. DES stands out as an exceptional choice, hosting a diverse array of researchers representing various schools of thought and methodologies.

My favourite aspect of the course so far: The Advanced Research Methods module is my favourite aspect because it has provided illuminating insights into the deployment of both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

My most challenging aspect of the course so far: The most challenging aspect is how to navigate a multitude of demanding tasks simultaneously. As a PhD student, I am tasked with composing the upgrade paper, conducting a thorough study of the Advanced Research Methods module, and then I am also actively working on scholarly publication.

Top tip for students thinking of applying: Communicate with the scholars who share the same research interests with you. If you are seeking funding for your PhD, publications may be of paramount importance. Furthermore, crafting a proposal that demonstrates interdisciplinary thinking can prove highly advantageous.

S. Arokia Mary


Course: PhD (funded by ESRC)

Topic area: Doctoral socialisation, gender, Kashmir (India)

Supervisors: Dr Emily Henderson, Prof Khursheed Wadia (Sociology Department)

Work history before/during my studies: Before joining the doctoral programme, I served as an Assistant Professor in India for over five years. Currently, I am working as a Research Assistant for the research project 'Widening Access to Higher Education in India: Institutional Approaches'.

Why I decided to enrol on a PhD: By pursuing a PhD, I hope to advance my research skills and subject-based knowledge. Further, PhD is also essential for my academic career progression.

Why I chose Warwick and DES: The academic expertise, extensive research engagement and contextual knowledge of my supervisors were prime motivators for pursuing my doctoral education at DES, University of Warwick.

My favourite aspect of the course so far: Continuous faculty, student, and peer academic engagements in and beyond classrooms is my favourite aspect of the course. Apart from classroom engagements, I greatly benefit from study circles and reading groups in the department and university.

My most challenging aspect of the course so far:

Intercultural communication often presents unique challenges. Keeping an open mind and asking follow-up questions go a long way and open up opportunities for growth.

Top tip for students thinking of applying: My top tips for prospective doctoral students would be to promptly initiate contact with supervisors to develop applications in a timely manner.

Sam Mason


Course: PhD (part-time)

Topic area: Initial teacher education, in-service training, professional development, policy mobilities, teacher professional identity

Supervisors: Dr Tom Perry and Dr Rebecca Morris

Work history before/during my studies: At present I am studying alongside my professional role as a primary school deputy headteacher. I have been a teacher for 17 years and a school leader for 11 years.

Why I decided to enrol on a PhD: After finishing my Master's studies in 2023, I missed studying. I enjoy learning and find study a good distraction from the day-to-day pressures of being a school leader.

Why I chose Warwick and DES: I primarily chose Warwick as it has a fantastic academic reputation, with some excellent potential supervisors. Also, having completed my initial teacher training at Warwick (PGCE), I had fond memories of studying at the university.

My favourite aspect of the course so far: The department works hard to immerse you in methodology and research methods. By joining the course, I have encountered approaches that I did not even know existed. It has been a real eye-opener.

My most challenging aspect of the course so far: As a part-time student, time management has been the most challenging aspect of the course. Although it has been a juggling act, it has been possible to accommodate studying alongside my professional role.

Top tip for students thinking of applying: Apply to research an aspect of education you are passionate about. Not only will others feed off your passion, which will be rewarding, but the passion will help sustain you in the more challenging periods.