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Applying for a Research Degree

Undertaking a research degree demands a significant amount of time and money and you should think very carefully about it before deciding this is the best course for you. Key things you should consider include:

Can I commit the time required?

Studying full-time normally requires a minimum of three years to complete a PhD. Part-time study normally requires a minimum of five years to complete a PhD.

Do I have the necessary motivation?

Unlike your previous taught courses, a research degree requires you to be able to study independently, with advice and support from your supervisory team. You will therefore need a high degree of self motivation to sustain your studies and successfully complete your programme.

Can I afford it?

You may already have student loans from your undergraduate study. Remember that whilst a research degree is almost essential for some career paths, it does not guarantee you a job in your chosen career and in some cases, three years' work experience may be more highly regarded than a PhD. A research degree should be treated as a long-term investment and whilst your life-time earnings with a research degree may be considerably higher, starting salaries for PhD graduates may not be much different from those with a Bachelor's degree and work experience.

Can I get funding?

Each year, the University provides a number of scholarships and bursaries to international students to cover a proportion of the tuition fee for the first year of study. There are also a number of alternative sources of funding for which international students may apply.

We offer a number of country-specific bursaries to students from Africa, South East Asia and South Asia. For further details, please contact International Enquiries. Get more information on bursaries at the University.

Research degree study funding is also sometimes available in the form of Research Studentships. These are provided by UK Research Councils who will provide payment of course fees and a living allowance or stipend (which is usually tax free). Government Agencies in many countries may sometimes provide funding to study for a PhD outside of the home country.

The University also supports a very limited number of PhD studentships each year, either allocated to the University by the Research Councils or funded from industry, charities and other sources. However, demand for funding for research studentships is much greater than supply, so you should not rely on being able to find funding for your study.

How can I study for a research degree?

The quickest and easiest way to undertake a research degree is by full-time study, but we recognise that circumstances are different and we actively encourage part-time study for research degrees. For those resident outside the UK, it is also possible to study for a research degree by distance learning. In this case, you must commit to spending a minimum of six weeks per year at the University and you will also need to identify a supervisor at a university in your country of residence who can provide local supervision for you.

Study Visa Requirements

If you are a national of a country outside the EU/EEA, you will need a study visa to undertake a research degree. For certain subject areas, particularly Engineering, ICT and health, you will also need to obtain higher level clearance from the UK Home Office through the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS).

Please note that the ATAS certificates are specific to the course and the teaching institution. Applicants who have a number of offers and have yet to make a decision should file an ATAS clearance certificate application for each course/programme of study and institution.