Degree Program

Project introduction


The program of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) in Education provided by the Institute of Leadership and Education Advanced Development (ILEAD) is designed to facilitate your research in educational studies so as to make significant and original contribution to human knowledge in education. PhD students at ILEAD will be able to work with an experienced supervisory research team to explore a wide range of topics including but not limited to educational management and administration, technologies in education, teaching and learning innovation, and a variety of perspectives in pedagogy.


Research Orientation Examples

  • Educational organization management, including educational organization innovation in the new era of artificial intelligence and Internet, future universities, etc.

  • Education leadership, including leadership research at all stages of K12 schools, and education management at the age of VUCA.

  • Education internationalization, including education internationalization policies and practices, student experience under international education, research on Sino-foreign cooperative education.

  • Children development, including the characteristics and rules of children's cognitive, psychological and social development, research on development and behavior, research on cognitive, family, social, and cultural factors which affect children development.

  • Teaching innovations for future education, including research-led teaching and syntergrative education.

Applicants may discuss with the PhD supervisors to specify their research interests and decide on the topics to explore for their PhD programmes.



  • The program has been accredited by both the British Ministry of Education and the Chinese Ministry of Education. The degree conferred is equivalent to that conferred by University of Liverpool.

  • The program enrolls both full-time and part-time students.

  • Every PhD student will by jointly supervised by a team of experts with at least one supervisor from Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University and one supervisor from University of Liverpool.

  • Full-time PhD students can apply for a research visit to the University of Liverpool for up to three months sponsored by Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University.

  • Full-time PhD students may apply for jobs like teaching assistant to enhance teaching skills and academic capacities.

  • Applicants are admitted via application and there is no standard test as entrance examination.

  • XJTLU boasts an internationalized campus and is featured with English-Medium Instructions.


PhD Supervisors


Professor Xi gained his undergraduate degree in physics from Xi'an Science and Technology University and his masters in system engineering from Xi’an Jiaotong University. In 1987 he was the first person in mainland China to be awarded a doctoral degree in the field of management engineering, while in 1993 became the youngest supervisor of PhD candidates in management engineering in China.

As a visiting professor, he has conducted joint research projects in universities in Canada, America, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. Much of his research in China has been designated as national key projects. His research and teaching areas cover strategic management and policy analysis, decision-making and decision support systems, management behaviour, and firm theory.

He has successfully supervised over 100 masters and PhD students, while as an author or co-author has published more than 300 academic papers and 20 books. He has received many prizes at provincial and ministerial levels.

As well as sitting on a variety of national-level boards and holding a wide range of titles, including standing committee member of Xi’an Municipal People’s Congress, Professor Xi is also chief editor of Manamaga, a magazine and journal focussed on management, as well as an editorial board member of several Chinese academic journals.



Professor Qiuling Chao has been vice president for student affairs and information at XJTLU since March 2018. Professor Chao is a professor of School of Public Policy and Administration at Xi’an Jiaotong University (XJTU) and currently the deputy director of Department of International Cooperation and Exchanges. Professor Chao has a professional background in English, pedagogy, and psychology, and has many years of experience engaging in higher education research. In 2005, she received her PhD in education supporting her in-depth knowledge of higher education.

From October 2009 to June 2013, Professor Chao worked as dean of the Liverpool Confucius Institute at the University of Liverpool. During her work in the UK, she conducted in-depth cross-cultural communication in English. This international working experience provided her with direct access to and an understanding of the management modes, operation processes and cultural issues of foreign universities, offering valuable experience and reference for her work in the future in Sino-foreign cooperatively-run universities and international institutions.

Professor Chao started her work as deputy director of Department of International Cooperation and Exchanges at XJTLU in 2015. With almost three years experience working in this position it has provided her with a more systematic and in-depth understanding of international exchange within universities, project cooperation, and the construction of internationalisation. She also organised and accomplished several large-scale foreign affairs visits and receptions, which shows high organisational and coordination ability and business level.



Dr Xiaojun Zhang got his PhD degree at Xi’an Jiaotong University in year 2013. He joined Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool Universityand acted as the Deputy Director of Institute of Leadership and Education Advanced Development (ILEAD), which was created by him under the support of university leaders. Now Xiaojun is the Head of Department for ILEAD at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in China.

ILEAD is a unique and leading center for education innovation, development, and education of educators (degree programmes) in education globally. Its key customers include XJTLU students, XJTLU staff, as well as local, regional, national and international educational practitioners and institutions. The main business of ILEAD includes pedagogical programmes (Postgraduate Taught and PhD degree programmes), support for XJTLU student learning, educational and professional development for XJTLU staff, global community for education innovation, training and development initiatives for external educators and professionals in education sector, and research on future university (internationalization, learning and teaching, educational leadership, educational management).

Most of Xiaojun’s current work focuses on educating the educators in universities, including teachers, professionals, and institutional leaders and managers. He has developed many professional development programmes for educational practitioners across the country. His programmes were attended by more than 4000 staff from more than 350 Chinese universities in past five years. Xiaojun created one of the most influential community for teaching innovation in China: XJTLU National University Teaching Innovation Award. More than 850 innovative teachers from 130 Chinese universities applied for this award since 2016. Every year there are millions of online visits to this events, and there has accumulated more than 350 excellent teaching innovation cases.

Dr Zhang’s research area is institutional change and the role of leadership in institutional change in higher education context. He is also interested in learning and teaching topics in universities. He has been published more than 70 academic papers and 3 books in these areas. His research focus on problems in practice and pay attention to practical implications. Most of his research has been adopted in his training programmes for higher education practitioners.



Dr. Rong Yan is currently a senior researcher of developmental and educational psychology in the Institute of Leadership and Education Advanced Development (ILEAD) at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU). Before coming to ILEAD, he was a full professor in the School of English Language, Literature & Culture, Beijing International Studies University. Dr. Yan obtained his Ph.D. from the Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2007. Two years later, he was honored by the Patton College of Education, Ohio University, to further his study in bilingual education as a Post-doc researcher. His primary research interests are the cognitive, psychological and social factors on mother and foreign /second language teaching and learning as well as their implications on instruction and pedagogy with language learners.

Dr. Yan has presented his work internationally, and served on various committees in China, US and Canada, including Chinese Psychological Association, China National Society of Early Childhood Education, Academic& Professional Evaluation Committee of Beijing International Studies University (2012-2014), Association for Childhood Education International and Center for Language Acquisition & Precision Education (CLAPE). So far, he has led more than 20 research projects, some of which were funded by the China National Humanities and Social Science Foundation, the State Ministry of Education of China and Beijing Municipal Government. With more than 18 years of teaching and research experiences in language education, developmental and educational psychology, he has published 5 books and over 30 research articles. In 2013, Dr. Yan received the Top Award for Outstanding Education Research by Beijing Municipal Education Commission.



Dr. Juming Shen is a local resident of Suzhou. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Soochow University in 2007 and 2010 respectively. To further explore his interest in academic studies, he went to Australia with the fund from China Scholarship Council after graduating from Soochow and obtained his Ph.D in higher educational studies from Queensland University of Technology in 2013. He returned to his hometown immediately and started working at Soochow University as a lecturer in its School of Foreign Languages. In 2016, Dr. Shen joined the Language Centre of Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University where he taught modules on English for Academic Purposes and established the new module of Developing Students’ Intercultural Awareness and Skills. In 2019, he transferred to ILEAD as a lecturer for the program of MA Global Education.

Dr. Shen started publishing academic papers in peer-reviewed journals as early as in 2008 and his research interest ranges from intercultural communication and language studies to semiotics and educational policy and practice analysis. He holds membership and leadership in a number of national and international academic associations and journal editorial and advisory boards. Apart from academic research, Dr. Shen has been dedicating passionately to the development of students and local educational communities. He is on the teaching and learning advisory board of several international middle and high schools and has personally coached dozens of students for national and international contests and competitions.



Dr. Qian “Sarah” Wang is Programme Director of MA Global Education /Education Developer in the ILEAD. She pursued her doctorate at Teachers College Columbia University in 2011. She proposed in her interdisciplinary program to focus her research on China-Foreign Cooperation in Running Schools. Her dissertation "Exploratory Study of Managers Experience in China-Foreign Cooperation in Running Schools" applied the critical incident technique and conducted interviews with fourteen managers from ten cooperatives higher education institutions in China. Sarah was the recipient of the Provost Scholarship Award for Doctoral Dissertation Research from Teachers College Columbia University. Her research interests include: (1) Development of Education Leadership in Transnational Context (2) Adult Learning and Professional Development for Teachers (3) Cross-cultural Communication and Practices (4) Conflict and Cooperation in Transnational Education.

Besides teaching responsibility, Sarah will commit herself to research (see section on her research interests) and writing for publications of international journals. Since her return to Suzhou, she has jointly published a short article on 23 August 2018, titled “改进高校跨文化交际课程 助力人类命运共同体建构” (Improving Teaching on Cross-Cultural Communication in Higher Education, Contributing to the Construction of a Shared Global Community) in the China Social-Science Newspaper (



Sam Zare is the Director of Global Digital Citizenship Centre. He obtained his PhD in Applied Linguistics from Massey University, New Zealand, and his research interest covers Intercultural Communication, Socio-cultural Studies, Language and Identity, Cultural Identities, New Media Discourse, Virtual Communities, Weblogs, Online Social Networks, Social Network Analysis, Transnationalism, and Emotion. Sam has also lectured in Assessment in Education and Research Methods and is familiar with qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches in Education. As the Director of Global Digital Citizenship Centre at ILEAD, he is currently working on digital literacy, digital competence, the use of Internet Communications Technologies (ICTs) in educational settings, and ways of empowering students and academics to effectively and ethically participate in and contribute to the digital world around them and become global digital citizens.



Dr. Liu joined Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University as an Educational Developer in the Institute of Leadership and Education Advanced Development (ILEAD). Her main responsibility is to provide assistance to teaching and learning and support the delivery of academic development programmes.

Before Joining Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Dr. Liu worked at ACT, Inc in Iowa as well as a public four-year university in North Carolina in the United States, where she worked on assessing college student learning and using data-driven evidence to improve institutional effectiveness.

Dr. Liu earned her B.A. degree in English Education from Qingdao University and received the Excellent College Graduate award from Shandong Province Department of Education. She earned her M.A. degree from the Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education program at Michigan State University, where she received a summer internship scholarship and worked on promoting college student development. Her Ph.D. degree is in Higher Education and Student Affairs from the University of Iowa. During her Ph.D. study, she worked in the Center for Research on Undergraduate Education and focused her research on student engagement, college student success, STEM majors, and underrepresented college students. Her dissertation examined the college experiences and outcomes of non-native English speaking students, and was awarded the Dissertation Year Fellowship at the University of Iowa.

Contact us

Institute of Leadership and Education Advanced Development

The 4th Floor, IR Building

Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University
111 Ren'ai Road
Suzhou Dushu Lake Science and Education Innovation District
Suzhou Industrial Park
P. R. China

You can follow our latest news by Website, WeChat, and Weibo Account.



For more details, you can also contact us: