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How to apply to our research courses

We want to make applying for our postgraduate research degrees as simple and straightforward as possible. Your first step is to decide what research degree is right for you. Our most common research degrees include MRes, MSc/MA by Research and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

If you decide on a PhD, there are two options to consider:

  • An advertised PhD is part of an established research project and is usually funded by us or another funding body.
  • If you want to pursue your own research project, you can apply to our research programmes to propose this. This is self-funded.

Apply for an advertised PhD

You can search for advertised PhDs through the PhD database. You’ll find full details on courses and staff research interests and can start your application from the course page.

Propose your own research

We have a simple application process to support you along the way.

  • Start by choosing your research degree – whether that’s a PhD, MA/MSc by research or MRes. Think about the research area and themes.
  • Begin your search for a supervisor. Get in touch with potential supervisors and departments through the contact details provided on supervisor profiles. They’ll be able to advise and consult on your proposal.
  • Explore funding options.
  • Write your research proposal. We’ve got lots of advice, hints and tips to support you with this.
  • Submit your application. You’ll need to upload supporting documents including your research proposal and potential supervisor’s name.

Good to know

  • All doctoral researchers have a lead supervisor. Our supervisors give academic support and research mentoring throughout our doctoral researchers’ time with us.
  • You can search for the right supervisor for your research area through our supervisor search. You can also use our course finder which shows research leads by subject area.

Next steps for research degree applications

Whichever research degree or PhD route you decide on, there are steps and important information that apply to both.

Check the entry requirements

There are different types of entry requirements for postgraduate research programmes:

  • General requirements for postgraduates
  • International entry requirements if you were educated outside of the UK
  • English language requirements if you’re not a native speaker
  • Course entry requirements

Good to know

  • For our advertised PhD degrees, you can find the specific course entry requirements on the course page.
  • For our PhD degrees, you’ll also need a good Honours degree for both routes and usually a Masters degree. Alternative equivalent qualifications and experience may also be considered.

Apply through our online portal

The quickest and easiest way to apply is online. To start your application, click ‘apply now’ on your chosen course page. You’ll then complete an application form. This will ask for your personal information as well as details on your education, work and experience, references and how you’ll fund your studies.

Supporting documents

We’ll ask for specific documents to support your application. These include academic certificates, two references and proof of English Language skills. If you apply for your own research programme, you’ll also need to include a research proposal.

Personal statement

You’ll also need a personal statement of approximately 5,000 characters, explaining why you are interested in studying on your chosen course. This can be uploaded to the personal statement section in PDF or Microsoft Word format. Alternatively, you can type this within the application portal.

Good to know

  • You don’t need to complete your application in one session. Simply save it and come back to it when you’re ready.
  • Avoid delays by checking all your information is accurate and complete.
  • Your application won’t be processed until you’ve completed all the relevant sections and submitted it.
  • If you run into any technical issues with your application, email us at directapplicationsystem@contacts.bham.ac.uk

What to expect next

Once you’ve submitted your application, we’ll send you details on how to access your applicant portal. You’ll be able to track the progress of your application, update your personal information, view decisions and accept offers.

Good to know

  • Your application will be ‘pending’ on your portal while we check your application.
  • You can add or edit some details or documents within your application after it’s been submitted through your applicant portal.
  • Or email pgadmissions@contacts.bham.ac.uk (include your applicant ID number) and we can add or edit for you.