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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 list of research degree subjects. You will then be able to select an online application form for your chosen research area.  

Step 1: Identify a research match

As a research student, you will be looking for an environment in which you can develop your own interests. 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 degree subjects. This lists all our research areas along with links to the relevant academic schools for more information. Some schools/institutes at QMUL encourage you to make contact with staff who may be a suitable potential supervisor before you begin your application, others will encourage you to contact the school first before approaching a supervisor. This part of the process is outlined in the individual school/institute profiles in the research degree subject list.   

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 school/institute postgraduate/research administrator or the Research Degrees Office.

See our contact 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 Research Studentship page and external websites such as or, 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 - if so, you should follow any instructions included with the application.

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 list of research degree subjects. 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 QMUL; 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.

We will contact your referee(s) via email to supply a reference, preferably electronically. However, a scanned colour copy of a reference provided on paper can also be provided either at the point of application or in response to the reference request email your referee will receive.

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 QMUL. They do not charge for their services. To find your local QMUL 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/institute. The school/institute will the contact you directly to let you know how they would like to proceed with your application. The school/institute may wish to discuss your application further either in person or via a teleconference with one or more members of academic staff. These discussions may be informal, or may form part of a more formal interview process.

The entire process from the submission of your application, to an invitation to discuss further, interview or decision, typically takes between three and four weeks but may take longer if a school/institute wishes to interview you before making a decision. If you need a decision by a given deadline in order to apply for funding please make this very clear in your application.


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 QMUL. 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. Students seeking financial support from Research Councils or other award giving bodies are asked to apply as early as possible and make it clear in their application the Research Council deadline. Additionally students applying for QMUL Studentships are reminded that their applications must be in line with Research Degrees Office deadlines – available from the Postgraduate Research Studentship page.

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: 

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:

Entry requirements

Specific entry requirements for each course are detailed in each programme description in the list of research degree subjects. Each application is considered on its own merits and receives full consideration from academic staff. For all postgraduate programmes, QMUL 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.

Equal opportunities

QMUL 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. QMUL 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
QMUL 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:

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, QMUL'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.

QMUL will make every endeavour to deliver courses as described in the prospectus. However, changes may be necessary at times. QMUL 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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