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Research Degree Application Guidance

Applying for a Research Degree can be a lengthy process and requires some preparation. Please allow plenty of time between submitting your application and your intended start date – we recommend at least 12 weeks. If you require a visa to study in the UK, you should also allow at least an additional 4 weeks for the visa application process.

Please note that registration for MPhil and PhD programmes takes place at three points in the academic year only, on the first day of each term. The entry points are normally in September, January and April. 

If you are not applying for an advertised studentship, you may find the following guidelines helpful.

1. Clarify your research topic
Candidates who have a clear research topic are more likely to identify a suitable supervisor quickly.

2. Identify the appropriate Faculty
The School has three Faculties:

Each Faculty comprises several research Departments: you can see these listed on the Faculty home pages. 

Have a look at the web pages for each department, where you will find details of staff members and their areas of expertise and interest, as well as current research projects within the department. This will give you an idea of where your research area is likely to fit within the School.

3. Decide which Research Degree programme you want to apply for

The School offers different Research Degree options: MPhil, PhD, and DrPH.  Read the information online to help you decide which one is right for you. 

4. Identify a prospective supervisor

You do not have to name a supervisor on your application, but it is more likely to be processed quickly if you already have one in mind. Use the website to look at research taking place across the School and identify the members of staff who would be most appropriate for your area of interest.

If you have managed to identify a potential supervisor, it is worth contacting them directly to discuss your proposed research, and to establish whether they have the capacity to take on a new research student; if not, they might be able to recommend alternative people.

Many supervisors receive a large number of email enquiries from prospective candidates, so it is essential that you provide a clear outline of your proposed topic, as broad suggestions will be less engaging.

Please be patient whilst awaiting a response, and please avoid contacting several people at the same time, as this will cause confusion.

If you are unable to identify a supervisor, or do not get a response from the people you have contacted, please get in touch with either the relevant Department Research Degrees Coordinator, or the Faculty Research Degrees Administrator for further guidance.

5.Think about how your Research Degree will be funded

You will need to consider how the Research Degree will be funded – tuition fees, living expenses and project costs. Unless advertised, the School does not provide funding for research degree fees. The School website contains some further information on potential sources of funding. Some candidates apply for a place via studentships advertised by the School. Others manage to secure funding from elsewhere prior to applying, and some submit funding applications at the same time as applying for the research degree.

6. Draft a research proposal outline
Unless applying for a studentship with a project which has already been defined, applicants are expected to submit a research proposal with their application. Once you have a clear research topic, outline your proposal in a few paragraphs. This should include:

Please be aware that the research proposal submitted with your application does not have to be the final research project: if and when you are offered a place, you will have the opportunity to refine your project through discussions with your supervisor. The main purpose of the proposal is to demonstrate that you have the necessary critical thinking skills, an understanding of the relevant research area, and an appreciation of the demands of a Research Degree.

7. Submit a formal application

If you have been successful in identifying a prospective supervisor and have been encouraged to apply, please see the Research Degrees information online for further details about how to apply.

It is still possible to submit an application without a named supervisor, but please be aware that the application may take longer to process.

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