International Centre for the
Comparative Study of Doctoral Education

Welcome to the International Centre for the Comparative Study of Doctoral Education (ICCSDE). We are an international group of researchers engaged in the study of doctoral education.

Our Centre emerged through a collaboration of researchers at Durham University (in the United Kingdom) and Sofia University (in Bulgaria), and it has expanded through our international contacts and collaborations.

On our webpages you will find information about the projects we have undertaken internationally, our international collaborators and partners, and resources linked to the study of doctoral education.

We welcome new members to our Centre. If you have a research idea or a project you would like to share with us, please get in touch. We also invite you to share your research and development ideas on doctoral education on our soon-to-be-published blog.

Our Aims

Doctorates are the highest degrees awarded by universities. In order to gain a doctorate, it is necessary to complete a research project which makes an original contribution to knowledge and understanding in a discipline or disciplines. Because they have demonstrated the capacity to undertake original research, doctoral graduates are in demand across the globe whether in the public or private sectors of the knowledge economy or in the halls of academia.

For these reasons, it is important to study doctoral education. While there is a substantial literature in the field, much of it only relates to single countries, and there is a dearth of studies which seek to consider it on a comparative basis. Yet it is only by comparison that the differences between systems can be described and analysed to create new insights and to provide a basis for policy development at the international level.

The aim of the centre is to conduct and encourage comparative research on doctoral education; the objectives are to:

  • Bring together scholars from across the globe with a research interest in comparative doctoral education;
  • Provide opportunities for discussion of relevant issues, including supervision, the student experience, and examination;
  • Enable access to a range of resources to support the study of comparative doctoral education;
  • Encourage collaborative research in the field;
  • Disseminate research by means including blogs, symposia, and conferences.

The founding members of the Centre are researchers at Durham University (UK) and the University of Sofia (Bulgaria), who have been conducting research on comparative doctoral education for a number of years and who have a range of publications in the field. They would warmly welcome interest from researchers in other institutions who subscribe to these aims and objectives.

  • The Changing Landscape of Doctoral Education
    Globally, doctoral education has been in the throes of change throughout most of the 21st century with massification, diversification, regulation, capitalisation and numerous other ‘ations. But relatively little is known about the ways in which these factors have impacted upon different higher education systems. This became a topic for discussion with two colleagues,  Karri Holley of the University of Alabama …
  • Some thoughts on the British PhD viva
    This blog was contributed by Michael Byram In many countries, the oral examination is the final stage of PhD study. It is often a public event and can be simply a celebration or sometimes a combination of assessment and celebration. In the latter case, the candidate is assured of being accepted but the assessors may still want to take a …
  • Launching the International Centre for the Comparative Study of Doctoral Education
    On Friday 24th February 2023, the International Centre for the Comparative Study of Doctoral Education (ICCSDE) was officially launched. The ICCSDE aims to bring together scholars from across the globe with a research interest in a comparative education perspective on the doctorate, to encourage collaborative research in the field, and to disseminate it through symposia, conferences, and publications.   The …