School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy | Study Here | Interested in studying for a PhD?
Document Actions

Interested in studying for a PhD?

We offer students the opportunity to undertake independent research as a part-time or full-time student, leading to an MPhil or PhD.

What is a Doctorate?

  • A doctorate is the highest qualification for most academic disciplines. To obtain a doctorate, you need to be able to conduct independent research of a high academic standard and to make an original contribution to the chosen subject through your thesis. You need to demonstrate that the research you conduct is of rigour and significance.
  • While different departments offer different programmes, there are two broad types of doctoral degrees:
    • research doctorate or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
    • professional doctorate (e.g. Doctor of Psychotherapy)
  • The former involves independent research, with the guidance of a supervisor, which is presented in the form of a thesis of between 80,000 and 100,000 words. It may also involve taught coursework and research training, which will not only prepare you to undertake research for your own thesis, but also equip you to be able to evaluate research results and reports more widely. The latter, professional doctorates, usually follow a programme of study in the form of taught modules and professional training, with a thesis at the end of the programme.
  • There are also doctoral programmes that integrate postgraduate taught courses with research. You will normally need to pass certain qualifying courses before you embark on the research project.

What other research degrees are offered?

How can I identify a supervisor?

  • Before applying to study for an MPhil/PhD degree, it is important to establish that one of our academics is able to provide appropriate supervision for your research.
  • Please note: Candidates for professional doctorate, NewRoutePhD or MRes programmes will be assigned supervisors after they have passed the qualifying taught modules.

Guidelines on writing a proposal for a PhD

  • A crucial part of the MPhil/PhD application is presenting a clear and concise research proposal that should be between 500 and 1000 words. Read more in our guide to writing a research proposal.
  • Please note: Candidates for professional doctorate or NewRoutePhD programmes do not need to submit a detailed research proposal when they apply for a place. Research proposals are to be developed after they have passed the qualifying taught modules. However, it is important to indicate, at the stage of application, your research interests to ensure that there is expertise in the department for supervision at a later date.

Can I be supervised by staff in different Departments?

  • The College Code of Practice requires every research student to have one primary supervisor and one secondary supervisor.
  • Some departments operate a team supervision system. If your research topic crosses departmental boundaries, you may have two supervisors from different departments. However, in normal circumstances, you need to register primarily with one department to follow that department’s procedures. You will receive supervision from the other supervisor in a different department.

How to apply

  • Candidates for PhD by research will need to submit a detailed research proposal with the form.
  • You should contact the prospective supervisor or the departmental research postgraduate director and discuss the proposed research topic before submitting an application. Different departments may have different procedures and requirements. For further advice, contact the Academic Research Officer in the relevant department.

Support for doctoral students (training, funding and procedures)

Where to go for more help