How to apply for a research degree

How to apply for a research degree

When you've decided which programme is right for you, please complete an application form and submit it to the Doctoral College along with the documents listed below. There are three intakes per year, with programme start dates on 1 October, 1 January and 1 April. If you are an overseas applicant please make sure you submit your application four and a half months prior to your preferred programme start date. For home/EU applicants, the deadline to apply is two and half months before your preferred programme start date. Applications received outside of these deadlines will be considered for the following intake.

If you are applying for a University Research Studentship please refer to the studentship advert for reply-by-dates. Please indicate the details of the studentship clearly on the application to avoid any delays. You should also include a cover letter indicating the area and school in which you are interested, as well as your suitability for the position.

Applications for the Professional Doctorate of Education (EdD) have their own deadline; please contact the Doctoral College at for further information.

More information on how to apply for:

Applying for a postgraduate research studentship

Each studentship is aligned to a research degree programme - for example MPhil/PhD Environmental Science - and this is the programme you need to apply for in your online application. Before commencing your application please ensure you know to which programme the studentship is aligned. If you are unsure please check the individual studentship pages, which will contain application information similar to the following:

To apply please use the online application form. Simply search for MPhil/PhD xxxxx xxxxx, then clearly state that you are applying for a PhD studentship within the School of xxxxx and name the project at the top of your personal statement.

Important documents you'll need to send us

  • a completed and signed application form
  • a research proposal (note that for some project-based studentship applications, this is not required)
  • two academic references
  • evidence of qualifications (certificates and transcripts for masters or bachelor degrees, plus any relevant professional qualifications)
  • evidence of English language ability, if English is not your first language
  • visual evidence for art and design applicants
  • CV or résumé
  • proof of financial sponsorship, if applicable
  • copy of information page of passport (and any UK visa previously held) for international candidates.

Some programmes may have specific requirements, if you need any help please contact the relevant Doctoral College administrator.

English language requirements for international students

If English isn't your first language, you'll need to show evidence of your English language ability. Here's the full list of English language tests we accept.

If you're taking an IELTS test, the minimum score for entry to a research programme is 6.5 overall, with at least 5.5 in each element of the test. If your research programme is linguistically demanding, you could be asked to reach a higher score. If you'd like to know more about your programme's requirements, please contact the relevant Doctoral College administrator.

We have our own English Language Centre, which runs academic English courses. These courses are open to international applicants who have a conditional offer to join a research programme but need to improve their English language test score.

Submitting your application

Complete your application and upload supporting documents to the Doctoral College by completing our online application form.

Application deadlines

Overseas applicants must submit their application 4.5 months prior to the proposed programme start date. For Home/EU applicants the deadline is 2.5 months prior to the proposed programme start date. There are three possible start dates per year, 1 October, 1 January and 1 April.

Research Degree awards

The University of Plymouth currently offers a wide range of postgraduate research degree programmes which can be studied both full time and part time.

Learn more about our awards

Postgraduate research areas

Find out more about the areas in which we supervise postgraduate research at both doctoral and masters levels.

Here we offer a flavour of potential topics for your own research project and who to contact to discuss your options.

View our research areas

The University’s Doctoral College is the hub for all research degree processes – from enquiries and application processes to the award of degrees.