Mathematics Education Centre MPhil, PhD

Mathematics Education Centre
Entry requirements:
2:1 +
3 years (PhD), 2 years (MPhil)
6 years (PhD), 4 years (MPhil)
Start date:
January, April, July, October 2018
UK/EU fees:
International fees:



of research rated 'internationally excellent' or above

REF 2014


The Mathematics Education Centre is one of the largest mathematics education research groups in the UK. In the latest Research Excellence Framework, 85% of the Centre’s research activity was judged to be ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally-excellent’, putting the research quality of the Centre amongst the highest of all education departments in the UK.

Academics from the Mathematics Education Centre have won national and international awards for their research and research-informed teaching practices. Together the Centre’s staff lead a lively group of PhD students from across the globe.

Research in the MEC focuses on two interest groups which form the focus of our research activity: the Culture, Pedagogy and Identity Interest Group; and Mathematical Cognition Interest Group.

The Centre’s research explores the fundamental processes involved in learning mathematics, as well as the design and evaluation of innovative pedagogy. The staff enjoy connecting with other specialists across the country, and run monthly research workshops which attract academics and researchers from across the region.

There is an active programme of workshops incorporating seminars by external and internal researchers (including PhD students) and reading group sessions. External funding for research is increasing with grants from the ESRC, the Royal Society, the Nuffield Foundation, the British Academy, Action Medical Research and the HE STEM programme. In recent years we have hosted five prestigious fellowships: Dr Sophie Batchelor (ESRC Future Leaders Fellowship), Dr Camilla Gilmore (British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship and Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellowship), Dr Matthew Inglis (Royal Society Educational Research Fellowship) and Dr Ian Jones (Royal Society Educational Research Fellowship). The MEC's growing international reputation has been reflected in Loughborough University's appearance in the top 200 universities in the world for Education in the 2013 QS World University Rankings by Subject, and by being ranked as the fifth highest education department in the UK in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (based on the percentage of 3/4* activity).

The MEC is responsible for the university-wide Mathematics Learning Support Centre, which provides mathematics and statistics support to all students. In addition, one-to-one support for students at all levels of study is provided by MEC staff and colleagues in the department of Mathematical Sciences. The Statistics Advisory Service is a specialist service which is in great demand, providing support for final year project students and postgraduates and staff requiring help with statistics. There is also increasing demand for support from the Eureka Centre for mathematical confidence which supports students with a range of neuro-diverse needs. The MEC, together with Coventry University, hosts the sigma Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in university-wide mathematics and statistics support. In 2011 this work was awarded the Times Higher Education Award for Outstanding Support for Students.

An honours degree (usually at least 2:1) in mathematics, education, psychology or a related discipline. It would be an advantage in some cases to have an MA/MSc in mathematics education, educational/psychological research methods or in a related discipline.

IELTS: overall 6.5 with minimum 6.0 in each component.

Our facilities

Our facilities are set within the newly refurbished Schofield Building at the heart of the Loughborough campus. These include the Schofield Cognition Lab: a child-friendly laboratory for conducting experimental or observational studies with young children, and an eye-movement lab equipped with a state-of-the-art eye-tracker.

Research areas

The Culture, Pedagogy and Identity Interest Group has expertise in the analysis of existing pedagogical practice, in the design and evaluation of novel practices, and in the research-based promotion of teaching development.

Of particular interest to the Group are the mechanisms by which students’ mathematical identity is shaped by their university experiences and the ways in which the practices of university level mathematics influences teaching and learning.

The Mathematical Cognition Interest Group focuses on understanding the processes by which students come to understand mathematical ideas. Academics in this Group have specific strengths in numerical cognition and mathematical reasoning. Recent externally funded research projects have included work on the nature and cause of dyscalculia, on the ‘approximate number system’ and its links to formal mathematics achievement, on the relationship between studying mathematics and reasoning skills, and on the ways in which experts and novices read mathematical proofs.

Your personal and professional development

Support from your supervisor

You will have access to workshops, international visitors and a wide range of research seminars. Your supervisor(s) will guide you through the research process, and you will have full access to all research facilities, and library and IT services.

Skills and experience

A PhD programme will give you the opportunity to develop new and highly sought after skills which can set you up for a range of careers. It’s a chance to make a novel contribution to knowledge, to become a world expert in a particular field, and it can open a range of doors with different employers. You'll also enhance your interpersonal skills, such as networking and relationship building, which will be invaluable in your future career.

Fees and funding


Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. University fees and charges can be paid in advance and there are several methods of payment, including online payments and payment by instalment. Special arrangements are made for payments by part-time students.

Who you'll be working with

How to apply

If you can't find a suitable PhD opportunity that fits your interests and experience from our funded (studentships) and unfunded opportunities, you can submit a research proposal to the Mathematics Education Centre in the hope of finding a supervisor who will work with you on your dream project.

On the online application, you should indicate the project/area in which you would like to study and the person with whom you would like to work, if appropriate. You are strongly encouraged to contact this person in advance to discuss their interests and possible research topics. Additionally, you must submit:

  • A one-page CV summarising your relevant experience and skills
  • A one-page cover letter describing your reasons for wishing to undertake research in your chosen area and the personal qualities you will bring to the work
  • A two-page essay on one or more issues affecting teaching/learning in mathematics that relate to your proposed area of research. This should be a specially constructed piece of writing that refers to relevant academic literature