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Apply for a research degree

You can apply online for all of our research programmes. This page takes you through the process in four steps and outlines the information and documents you will need to do so.

To locate the correct online application form, select your research area from the A-Z list of research opportunities. You will then be able to select an online application form for your chosen research area.  

Step 1: Identify a research match

As a graduate student, you will be looking for an environment in which you can develop your own interests and achieve your personal best. One of the most important factors will be a good match with a potential supervisor or existing research group. This is something you need to have established before you start the application process.

To search for a suitable research match and supervisor, see the list of research opportunities. This lists all our research areas along with links to the relevant academic schools for more information. You are encouraged to make contact with staff who may be suitable potential supervisor(s) to discuss how your research interests will fit within the department. You may then be able to arrange a meeting, either face-to-face or by telephone, to discuss your proposed research in more detail. See the supervision page for more details.    

If you cannot find the research area you are looking for, or have any queries about the application process, you can either contact the relevant departmental postgraduate/research administrator or the Research Degrees Office. See the Enquiries page for contact details. 

Step 2: Review entry requirements and funding

You should double-check entry requirements with the school or department in which you are applying to study, but in general you should hold a good first degree and a masters qualification (although this is not always essential). Relevant experience within the field may also be taken into account. If English is not your first language, take note of any English language requirements. The College’s standard requirement for English is IELTS 6.5 or equivalent. More details about language requirements can be found in the international students section.

At this stage you should also ensure that you have a realistic plan to secure sufficient funding to complete the research and writing up process within the normal time period, which is three years.

Many of our PhD students apply to join an existing research group, and are usually funded with a studentship. Studentships cover your tuition fees and normally include an allowance to cover living costs. Current studentships are advertised on our Postgraduate Studentship webpages and external websites such as Jobs.ac.uk or Findaphd.com however we also advise students to look directly on School websites as well. The application process for studentships may differ slightly from the steps outlined on this page. Instead you should follow any application instructions included with the advertised studentship.

Find out more about funding and support.  

Step 3: Gather your documents and apply online

One you have fulfilled steps 1 and 2 above, you should apply online. To get to the online form, see the A-Z list of research opportunities. Select your research area. You will then be able to select an online application form for your chosen research area. 

Generally each application should include the following:

  1. A completed application form
  2. Transcripts
  3. Proof of English language ability for overseas applicants from non-English speaking countries
  4. Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  5. A research proposal  (see the research proposal page for detailed advice on putting this statement together)
  6. A one-side A4 statement of purpose. This should set out your previous academic or other experience relevant to the proposed research; why you wish to undertake this research at Queen Mary; your previous research or professional training and what further training you think you will need to complete a PhD; and what ethical issues you will need to consider in undertaking this research.
  7. Two references. Please provide the contact details of two referees. At least one reference must be from an academic referee who is in a position to comment on the standard of your academic work and suitability for postgraduate level study. Where appropriate, a second referee can provide comment on your professional experience.

Your referees can either submit a paper copy and post it to us, or complete it electronically and send it via email. Download our reference request form here: 

Research Reference Request Form [DOC 46 KB]

If your referee emails your reference to us we can only accept it if it is sent from a university or company email address. References from a personal email address such as ‘Yahoo’ or ‘Hotmail’ are not acceptable. Paper reference forms should be endorsed by an appropriate institution/company official stamp or on official institution/company letterhead. Alternatively if your referee has agreed to provide an open reference letter you can scan this and upload it, in the upload document section of the online form.

International applicants are welcome to contact one of our authorised local representatives. They can help you through the application process, upload documents, or scan and send your completed paper application form direct to Queen Mary. They do not charge for their services. To find your local Queen Mary representative, see our country/region specific information

Exceptions to applying online

If you are unable to apply online and need a paper application form, use the links below.

Step 4: What happens next

Application procedures vary from department to department, but all formal applications must be logged initially with the Research Degrees Office, so they should be your first point of contact. The Research Degrees Office will forward your application to the relevant school/department. The school/department will then contact you directly to arrange an interview with two members of academic staff (one of whom will be your possible supervisor) if they are interested in taking your application further. Interviews usually last 30 minutes and take the form of a teleconference call at a mutually agreeable time.

The entire process can take from six to eight weeks and you will be informed of the outcome in writing. If you need a decision by a given deadline in order to apply for funding please make this very clear on your application

FAQs

Can I apply for more than one programme of study?

You may apply for a maximum of two taught programmes or one taught and one research programme at Queen Mary. If you are applying online, you will need to submit two applications. Please note: although you may apply for two programmes, under College regulations you can only study for one qualification at a time. If you receive offers for both programmes, you will be required to accept one and decline the other.

Is there a deadline for receipt of applications?

There is no fixed closing date for applications but you should remember that decisions on applications will be made as quickly as possible and popular programmes may become full so we advise applying as soon as possible. Check the website to see if the programme you wish to apply for is full. Students seeking financial support from Research Councils or other award giving bodies are advised to apply early.

Is there an application fee?

No, the College does not charge an application fee

Is my qualification recognised?

Our International Office have a list of countries/regions for which we have published admissions information online. Please see our international students section. Alternatively we use UKNARIC to check the equivalency of International and European qualifications: www.naric.org.uk 

What happens after I submit my form?

All complete applications will be considered by Admissions Tutors. Providing you have included all the required documentation, we aim to inform you of a decision on your application within four weeks of receipt.

Where can I find out more about English language requirements?

Please see: www.qmul.ac.uk/international/languagerequirements

Entry qualifications

Specific entry requirements for each course are detailed in each programme description on the A-Z course finder. Each application is considered on its own merits and receives full consideration from academic staff. For all postgraduate programmes, Queen Mary welcomes applications from candidates who wish to be considered, at least in part, on the basis of relevant experience gained either in the workplace or similar environment. It is very hard to generalise about entrance requirements across the many subjects and awards we offer, but the following guidance may prove useful.

Research degrees
The usual entrance requirement for entry to a research degree is a good second class honours degree or a masters degree from an UK university, a recognised equivalent from an accredited overseas institution or an equivalent professional qualification.

Taught masters degrees
The usual entrance requirement for entry to a taught masters degree is a good second class honours degree from a UK university (except clinical medical or dental), a recognised equivalent from an accredited overseas institution or an equivalent professional qualification.

Taught postgraduate diploma course
The usual entrance requirement for entry to a postgraduate diploma is either a first degree of approved standard, or evidence of professional or educational attainment, which is assessed by the academic selector as being of an acceptable entry standard.

Equal opportunities

Queen Mary welcomes students from all over the world. The College Charter states that our work shall be carried out in a spirit of tolerance, freedom of opinion, mutual concern and community service, and undertakes to avoid discrimination against any person on the grounds of religion, race, sex or politics. Queen Mary has a policy statement on Equal Opportunities in Employment, which we are actively implementing. Anti-harassment procedures have been agreed, aimed at eliminating incidents of racial or sexual harassment.

Applicants with disabilities
Queen Mary
welcomes applications from students with special needs, and continues to invest money in improving facilities and accessibility. A Guide for Students with Disabilities is available from the Disability Co-ordinator and further information about our provision for students is available at: www.dds.qmul.ac.uk

All applications are considered on academic merit but, in order that we can offer you appropriate advice about services and facilities, it is important that you provide information about your particular needs at the application stage. Please use the section on the application form to give details of any illness, disability or learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, as well as outlining the support you feel you will need to successfully complete your course of study. When an offer is made, the Queen Mary's Disability Co-ordinator may contact you to discuss your needs in more detail.

If you would like to visit the university before submitting an application, please contact the Disability Co-ordinator in the Advice and Counselling Service. There are many organisations who are happy to advise students preparing for Higher Education but a good place to start is SKILL: The National Bureau for Students with Disabilities, 336 Brixton Road, London SW9 7AA, Tel: +44 (0)20 7274 0565 

Terms and conditions

The offer and acceptance of a place at the College is made on the understanding that you undertake to observe the Charter, Statute, Ordinances and Regulations of the College and the rules and regulations which the College makes for students from time to time. These cover, among other things, payment of tuition fees, attendance at classes, submission of work, attendance at examinations, student discipline, complaint procedures, freedom of speech and equal opportunities policies. An up-to-date copy of the Student Guide, which describes the College's procedures, will be given to each taught course student at enrolment. Research Students will be given the Handbook for Research Students. For more information see the Academic Registry website.

Queen Mary will make every endeavour to deliver courses as described in the prospectus. However, changes may be necessary at times. Queen Mary reserves the right to make changes to the content or methods of delivery of courses, to discontinue or to merge courses. If a course is discontinued, we will make every effort to provide a suitable alternative course.

Research students must complete their research, write up and submit the thesis for examination within the timescale laid down in the regulations. Students who do not submit on time will be liable to pay a late submission fee.

Queen Mary does not accept responsibility or liability for any damage to students' property, the transfer of computer viruses to students' equipment or personal injury to students caused by the misuse or unauthorised use of Queen Mary equipment, or due to students not taking due care whilst on Queen Mary premises or engaged in Queen Mary activities.

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