Applicants and enquirers

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 Graduate School 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 Graduate School for further information.

More information on how to apply for:

Important documents you'll need to send us

  • a completed and signed application form
  • a research proposal
  • 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 Training Centre (DTC) 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 DTC 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 Graduate School 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, October 1st, January 1st and April 1st.

Research Degree awards

Plymouth University 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

The Research Degrees Handbook

Guidance for research degree students, academic staff, examination teams and professional staff.

The handbook includes the rules governing the research degree registration as well as guidance through the registration process.

Research Degrees Handbook