How to apply 

When submitting an application for any postgraduate course, you are also required to submit supporting documentation to accompany your application form. Here's some helpful tips on the application process, and what you will need to consider:

Five key steps

There are five key steps to consider when making your application to study a postgraduate course in the College of Arts and Law. 

1. Choose your course using Coursefinder

To apply for your postgraduate course at the University of Birmingham, you must use our Coursefinder. By clicking on the specific course you wish to apply for you will be directed to an application specifically designed for your course which will guide you through the process of compiling and submitting your application and supporting documents online.

Your application is specifically designed for the course you choose to apply for and it is sensitive to the answers you provide as you proceed through the application. See application guidance notes.

Once you have submitted an online application you will be sent details of how to enter your applicant portal. This portal will allow you to send and receive communications with the University. It will also enable you to track the progress of your application at every stage of the admissions process, update your personal information, view decisions and accept any offers you may receive.

2. Consider whether you meet the entry requirements:

3. Check the specific course entry requirements, which can be found on individual course listings in our Coursefinder

4. Contact the department if you need any advice about a particular course for example, if you need advice on which specific course to apply for

5. Consider the supporting documents you might need to upload as part of your application (see below)

If you have difficulties with any aspect of the application process, please contact:

Guidance on supporting documents

When you apply for a postgraduate course via course finder, you will have the option to upload your supporting documents. The following information will usually be needed before a decision can be made on your application:

  • Two academic references (or if appropriate to the programme applied for, one could be from your employer).
  • Degree transcript(s) - originals or certified photocopies:

EU and international applicants - if you are currently studying outside the UK or have obtained your qualification(s) outside the UK

UK applicants - if you are currently studying in the UK or have obtained your qualification(s) in the UK and your university provides transcripts. If you are not a recent graduate send certified copy(s) of relevant qualifications. University of Birmingham graduates do not need to provide transcripts or copies of degree certificates, however we advise applicant's who graduated prior to 2000 to provide copies of their qualifications as they may take longer to verify. 

  • Certificate to show competency in the English language, if English is not your first language and you have already taken a test (See English language requirements).
  • Personal statement, approximately 5000 characters, explaining why you are interested in studying on your chosen programme. Alternatively, you can type this within your application.
  • You may also be required to submit further documents e.g. a sample of work or research proposal in support of your application. If this is necessary for a decision to be made on your application, the document will become a mandatory part of your application. See below.

Guidance on a research proposal


If you are applying for any of our research courses - MRes, MA by Research or PhD - you will need to supply a research proposal with your application.

Your proposal should include information about your chosen area of research and your proposed research question(s) so that we can understand exactly what you’re hoping to study, and determine who might be an appropriate supervisor for you. Each discipline requires slightly different things in a research proposal, so you might find it useful to seek advice from the admissions tutor or your potential supervisor before you apply but the following guidelines give a sense of what is often included.

Your proposal should normally be around two pages (double spaced) and will often include:

  • an outline of your chosen topic or overview of your research.
  • some background on the topic (what’s already been done) and an indication of why your research will be important and interesting (what questions will it answer?).
  • your research question(s) or a clear description of your area of study.
  • an indication of the literature you will be drawing on, for instance, primary works or thinkers.
  • in addition some disciplines will also require an indication of appropriate methodologies and of any specific resources (such as archives) you propose to use. 

Where possible, identifying a possible supervisor in the area of research you are interested in, and contacting them directly for advice, is the best method of ensuring that your research proposal meets the criteria to enable you to gain a place to study. 

Now that you have all of your supporting documentation ready, you are ready to apply for your postgraduate course using our Coursefinder - good luck!

If you run into any difficulty, please consult our application guidance notes.