Content and Structure

Programme Structure 

The PhD programme is a full-time programme that normally takes four years for completion. An eight week pre-session for research skill training is required before the beginning of the programme. The programme comprises of course work, internship, skill training and research work leading to submission and defence of a thesis.

The programme is divided into two parts. Part I is further sub-divided into Year 1 (for formal course work) and Year 2 (for internship, advance skills training and writing of the research proposal). Part II of the programme incorporates Years 3 and 4 and will focus on data collection, data analysis and writing the thesis.

Structure of the PhD Programme

Part I 

Year 1: Course Work

The formal course work is spread over two 16-week semesters in Year 1. The course work is distributed into three strands: (a) Educational Research Methods; (b) Education and Development; and, (c) Educational Processes. Each strand consists of two courses as shown below. 

As noted, developing an understanding of research in the relevant context (developing countries) with appropriate focus on curriculum and leadership is seen as the raison d'être of the PhD programme and all four years of the programme are seen as contributing to it.

Although Educational Research Methods, Development Education and Curriculum and Leadership will be taught as distinct strands, they will be interlinked through cross-referencing, common activities and regular research seminar to which students and staff contributes. A greater weighting will be given to the Educational Research Methods strand as the vehicle for this integration.

Year 2: Internship and Research Proposal 

Year 2 includes an internship in Semester 1. Semester 2 is devoted to the development of a satisfactory research proposal. Extension of research expertise, skill and understanding in an area of research relevant to the chosen thesis will take place in both semesters.


An internship is a work-experience attachment to a programme or an organization concerned with research and/or development. The aim of the internship is to give the student a broader experience (relevant not just to the proposed research but to the responsibilities which he or she is likely to undertake upon graduation) than they have received in their previous work.

Such attachments will be a unique feature of AKU-IED's development of research capacity and relate to the distinctive settings and needs of Pakistan and the developing world.

Research Proposal

A satisfactory research proposal, setting out the context, the question or problem, the main thesis, a thorough literature review, the proposed research design and some key readings will be developed.

The course work, internship and the research proposal all have to be successfully completed before progress can be made to Part II of the programme.

Part II

Year 3 and Year 4

Part II of the programme (Years 3 and 4) will be spent in conducting fieldwork, doing analysis and in writing the research thesis. Students will produce an original thesis and are required to pass an oral exam as per University regulations.​