How to apply for a research degree

General Applications

When you are ready to apply, please visit the applying for postgraduate study page and follow the steps outlined below in ‘How to apply for a research degree’. Please ensure you upload the mandatory supporting documents.

 

Studentship applications

If you are applying for a studentship please check the individual studentship pages and follow the steps outlined below in ‘How to apply for a postgraduate research studentship’. Please ensure you upload the mandatory supporting documents.

How to apply for a research degree

Before you start your application, please ensure you know which research degree programme you are applying for. You have to apply for a named programme; for example, PhD Robotics, ResM Tourism and Hospitality, MPhil Psychology, etc. On the applying for postgraduate study page, simply search for PhD (programme title), ResM (programme title), MPhil (programme title), Doctor of Business Administration, etc., to start the application process. Once you have registered, please complete an online application form and upload the mandatory supporting documents (listed below).

Please see postgraduate research study and research degree awards to explore the opportunities available.

There are three intakes per year, with programme start dates on 1 October (end of September for programmes with mandatory taught modules), 1 January and 1 April.

If you are an international applicant, please make sure you submit your application four and a half months before your preferred programme start date. For home 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. Applications for the Professional Doctorate of Education (EdD) have their own deadline; please contact the Doctoral College at doctoralcollege@plymouth.ac.uk for further information.

Applying for a postgraduate research studentship

If you are applying for a University Research Studentship, please refer to the studentship advert for detailed information and reply-by dates. Every studentship is aligned to a research degree programme. Go to the studentships webpage and select the project you wish to apply for. Each advert includes the programme title you’ll need for your application. Some University Research Studentships may have specific entry requirements, such as a cover letter, in addition to the mandatory documents listed below. Please read the information carefully for your chosen project to ensure you submit the correct supporting documents. Please clearly state the name of the studentship project at the top of your personal statement to avoid any delays.

On the applying for postgraduate study page, simply search for the programme title (as indicated in the advert) to start the application process. Once you have registered, please complete an online application form and upload the mandatory supporting documents (listed below). Please clearly state the name of the studentship project you are applying for at the top of your personal statement.

Mandatory documents to upload when you apply

  • A research proposal (note that for some project-based studentship applications, this is not required).
  • 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.
  • CV or résumé.
  • Proof of financial sponsorship, if applicable.
  • A copy of the information page of your passport (and any UK visa previously held) for international candidates.
  • A personal statement.

Additional requirements

  • (For all candidates) two verifiable academic references are required. References should be submitted, independently from the applicant, directly from the referee to the Doctoral College doctoralcollege@plymouth.ac.uk. Only references from professional/academic email accounts can be accepted by email.
  • (For studentship candidates) Please note, some University Research Studentships may have specific entry requirements, such as a cover letter, in addition to the standard requirements listed above; please read the information carefully for your chosen project to ensure you submit the correct supporting documents.

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.

Questions on the application process?

We're here to help. Please contact the Doctoral College administration team and we'll be happy to assist you.

You can view or download our postgraduate research admissions policy.

If you have a disability and would like further information on the support available, please visit our Disability Services website.

International Student Advice (ISA) provides support for our international students.


Application deadlines

Overseas applicants must submit their application 4.5 months prior to the proposed programme start date. For home applicants, the deadline is 2.5 months prior to the proposed programme start date. There are three possible start dates per year, end of September (ResM programmes)/1 October (other research degrees), 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.