Research Degrees

MA by Research – MRes – MPhil – PhD

Join one of the highest rated providers of Masters qualifications in Children’s Play in the UK and improve professional practice through your own research.

Join the vibrant School of Liberal and Performing Arts and engage in postgraduate research that is both cutting edge and creative. Make the most of academic and professional perspectives to develop research and scholarship relevant to sector and practitioner needs.

Research areas include:

  • play
  • playwork
  • children and childhood
  • philosophy, policy and ethics
  • play sufficiency
  • children’s rights
  • places and spaces
  • nature and value of children’s play
  • playful production of time/space
  • playfulness
  • play, well-being and resilience
  • drama and play as interventions

We have research interests and expertise across the private, public and not-for-profit sectors.

Draw upon on our experience of a variety of research epistemologies and methodologies including creative approaches and practice as research. Attend national and international conferences. Present your work and ideas in the latter stages of your research. Gain support to submit your work for publication.

Current and recent research

ARTPAD (Achieving Resilience Through Play and Drama)
Research Team:
Karen Benjamin, Sue Colverd, Leonie Burton, Wendy Russell

Sharing Memories of Adventure Playgrounds
Research Team: Tom Williams, Dr Wendy Russell, Dr Stuart Lester, Hilary Smith and Dr Malcolm McLean

Co-producing a play space: reading playwork stories, practices and artefacts on an adventure playground
Research team: Dr Stuart Lester, Dr Wendy Russell and John Fitzpatrick

The Art of Wellbeing: A participatory study with playworkers and children at play Research Team:  Dr Nic Matthews, Hilary Smith, Dr Denise Hill, Dr Lindsey Kilgour, Leonie Burton

The Play Sufficiency Duty in Wales
Research Team: Dr Wendy Russell and Dr Stuart Lester

Entry requirements

  • All research students who have not already completed a relevant Masters degree, or other appropriate postgraduate research methods training, are required to complete the Postgraduate Certificate in Research Methods.
  • A good Honours degree (2.1 or above) from a UK university, or an equivalent qualification, is normally required in a subject area relevant to your chosen research topic
  • In exceptional circumstances, we will consider applications from non-graduates with experience of undertaking research or graduates who wish to work in a new subject area
  • Registration is usually for MPhil or MRes or MA/MSc by Research with the possibility of transfer to PhD
  • Candidates with a Masters degree in a relevant subject that contains appropriate research methods training may register for PhD directly.


Fees for September or January start in 2017/18 are £2,795 per year. Part time MA by Research and MRes students would expect to complete their award in 2 years.

Postgraduate loans

The Government has introduced loans for taught and research postgraduate Masters programmes commencing after 1 August 2016.

Students under the age of 60 may be eligible for loans of up to £10,000, which will be paid directly to them at 3 points during the aca​demic year. These will be at the start of the course and then 4 months and 7 months into the course.

Am I eligible?

Students need to be studying a full Masters course (i.e. MA, MSc, MRes) commencing after 1 August 2016.

EU nationals and Distance Learners are eligible. Part time courses are also eligible as long as they meet the minimum 50% intensity requirement. Postgraduate student loans are not available to students who already hold a Masters qualification (or an equivalent or higher qualification) or those only studying to Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma level.

Repayments of these loans will be in addition to the current undergraduate student loan scheme.

Further information and guidance is available on the government website or you can contact our Money Advice team on 01242 714535 or with specific questions.

Further information

For further details of tuition fees and the application process please visit

or contact:
Hilary Smith

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