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Doctor of Philosophy, PhD

A PhD is the highest academic award for which a student can be registered.

You may enrol either on a part-time or full-time basis. 

Individuals who work towards a PhD pursue a research project built around a substantial piece of work, which has to show evidence of original contribution to knowledge.

Direct enrolment for the degree of PhD may be permitted to candidates;

  • who hold a Master's degree provided that the Master's degree is in a discipline which is appropriate to the proposed research and the the Master's degree included training in research and the execution of a research project.
  • who, may not have a Master's degree but has a good honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline and had had appropriate research or professional experience at postgraduate level, which has resulted in published work, written reports or other appropriate evidence of accomplishment.

Any individual who has initially commenced study for a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) may apply to transfer to a PhD when they have made sufficient progress on the work to provide evidence of the development to PhD.

The Research Programme

The programme of research normally involves a literature study, an experimental or hypothesis-testing phase, an evolution phase perhaps followed by further theory and experimental studies before concluding: individuals working towards the degree of PhD are required to successfully complete a programme resulting in a significant contribution to knowledge.

You are expected to work to an approved programme of work including appropriate programmes of postgraduate study (which may be drawn from parts of existing postgraduate courses, final year degree programmes, conferences, guided reading or a combination of study methods). The programme of research is assisted by these background and related studies which can be especially important if you are a part-time/mature student who may have been away from formal studying for some time.

Portfolio route (creative and other non-textual work)

You may undertake a programme of research in which your creative work forms, as a point of origin or reference, a significant part of the intellectual enquiry. Such creative work may be in any field but must show coherence and originality in invention and must have been undertaken as part of the registered research programme. In such cases, the presentation and submission may be partly in other than written form. The creative work must be clearly presented in relation to the argument of a written thesis and set in its relevant theoretical, historical, critical or design context. The thesis itself must show critical understanding of the submitted creative work to contemporary thought. The final submission must always be accompanied by some permanent record of the creative work.

Portfolio route (planned publication)

You may undertake a programme of research of which the principal focus is the preparation and compilation of a portfolio of papers prepared during the period of candidature (not prior to admission or used as part of the basis for admission) that have been formally accepted for publication by a peer-reviewed journal, in press or in print at the time of examination. Peer-reviewed book chapters are acceptable, provided that they have been formally accepted for publication, in press or in print at the time of submission of the thesis. Where one or more of the submitted papers or chapters are co-authored, they collectively should be preceded by a clear statement of the intellectual contribution of the candidate to the submitted papers signed by all of the contributing authors. The portfolio must be accompanied by a synopsis which should not normally exceed 10,000 words and which must not include new data or results, though results or data presented in the attached papers may be reworked or integrated with results and data from literature in order to develop the argument presented.


A minimum of one main supervisor who will normally be part of a supervisory team, comprising of up to three members. At least one member of the supervisory team will have a successful track record of supervision at the appropriate level and in the case of doctorates one supervisor will have successfully supervised to doctoral level. At least one member of the supervisory team will be currently engaged in research in the relevant discipline(s) so as to ensure that the direction and monitoring of the student's progress is informed by up to date subject knowledge and research developments.


Examination for a PhD is by thesis and by oral examinations ‘Viva Voce’ and must be conducted in the United Kingdom and in English, but this does not mean that part of the work could not be carried out abroad.

The text of the thesis should not normally exceed 40,000 words for a PhD in Science, Engineering and Art and Design or 80,000 words in Arts, Social Sciences and Education.

Where the submission is accompanied by material in other than written form or the research involves creative writing or the preparation of a scholarly edition, the written commentary should normally be a minimum of 10,000 words.

Length of study

 PhD (from initial MPhil/PhD registration)


Submission Pending (writing-up)


36 months

up to 12 months


72 months

up to 12 months

 PhD (direct)



24-36 months

up to 12 months


48-72 months

up to 12 months

Entry Requirements

The normal entry requirements for enrolment are a first or upper second class honours degree of a UK University (or equivalent).

If you hold an appropriate Master's degree by research or examination, direct enrolment for Doctor of Philosophy, PhD may be possible.

International students whose first language or language of instruction is not English should have also passed an English Language qualification. (TOEFL - 550 score minimum and IELTS 6.0 minimum will be considered acceptable).

Since 31 March 2009 most international students coming to study in the UK have been required to apply for a visa under the new Points Based System, Tier 4.  However, this visa type explicitly excludes self-employment and trading in the UK.  We are therefore unable to accept applications for Masters of Enterprise or Enterprise Doctorate study from international students where their research is likely to include an element of UK based trading.

You can find detailed advice on the United Kingdom Border Agency website.

Some international students also require an ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) Certificate. Your offer letter will tell you whether or not you have to apply. Further information about this scheme can be found on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.

International students whose first language or language of instruction is not English should have also passed an English Language qualification. (TOEFL - 550 score minimum and IELTS 6.0 minimum will be considered acceptable).

For further information on studying and working in the UK visit the International Office webpages for reference.

PLEASE NOTE that all international applicants applying for a postgraduate research degree must do so through the Research and Enterprise Department, please see the Contact Us page.

Last updated Tuesday 28 January 2014
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