School of Geography

How to apply

All applicants to one of our postgraduate funding programmes should follow the simple steps below.


Identify a potential supervisor

Before making a formal application to one of the PhD programmes on offer, you should discuss your ideas with a potential supervisor within the School.   


Develop your research proposal

Your research proposal (c.1500-2000 words) is an important element of the our decision-making process. You should work closely with your potential supervisor to develop this. Further advice is available here.


Gather the necessary documents

Your application will need to be supported by a number of other documents. Before applying online, make sure you have collected everything required of you including two academic references.


Complete the online application form

All applications are submitted online to the Admissions and Recruitment Office at QMUL in the first instance. Applicants to the LISS-DTP or the London NERC DTP must also complete a separate application form. These should be submitted at the same time as your QMUL application.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who should I first make contact with at the School?

If you have any academic queries not answered here, please contact our Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Kathryn Yusoff (Director of Graduate Studies – Human Geography), or Professor Geraldene Wharton (Director of Graduate Studies – Physical Geography and Environmental Science). If you have any queries about the applications process not addressed here, please contact our Postgraduate Studies Manager (

I don't have a first degree in Geography. Can I still apply?

Though many people joining our PhD program have a first degree/masters in Geography/Environmental Science, we welcome applications from those with backgrounds in cognate disciplines.

I don't have a 1st Class Degree or the international equivalent. Is it worth my while applying?

The School is committed to appointing only the very best candidates to our PhD programme. Ideally, you should have a 1st Class degree and/or a Masters at Merit of above. If you have an Upper Second Class degree, you should be able to demonstrate a record of work at 1st Class level. Though a Masters degree is not a requirement, Funding (Research Council and College Studentships) is awarded on a competitive basis, and most applicants will have a Masters degree at Merit or Distinction (with many also holding a 1st Class degree). All our applicants are judged on the same criteria:  record of academic achievement; quality of research proposal; and fit with the School’s research interests.

Will I be able to get funding for my PhD?

There are several ways of getting funding for a PhD. If you are a home/EU student, you may be eligible to apply for funding from one of the British Research Councils (NERC, ESRC, AHRC). Research council studentships pay full home fees and a maintenance award for 3 years. Each year the School also bid with College for a number of College PhD Studentships. If successful in this bid, these Studentships are made available to applicant’s to the School’s PhD programme. College Studentships also pay home fees and a maintenance award for 3 years. Your potential supervisor, or the Director of Graduate Studies, will be able to tell you which of these different awards you are eligible for. Current opportunities for funding, and details of how to apply for the different awards, are listed on our Funding page.

When does your PhD programme start?

Our PhD programme starts in September. It is not possible to start at any other point.  Term dates are here: please note that induction to the Department takes place during registration week.

Is it possible to study part-time?

Our PhD programme is offered on a full and part-time basis. Full time students study for three years, part-time students for six years. Overseas students should note that it is extremely rare for the British government to award a student visa for part-time study, unless you are already working in Britain with a work permit.

What is a Research Proposal?

The Research Proposal is a 1500-2000 word document in which you set out the ideas for your PhD, and should be attached to your application form. The quality of your Research Proposal is one of the main criteria the School (and funding bodies) use to assess your application.  Guidance on how to write a Research Proposal are set out on our Putting Together a Research Proposal page.

Do I have to send two academic references?

We would prefer to see two academic references. If it is several years since you graduated from your last degree we will understand if this will not be possible, and will accept one academic and one non-academic reference.

Are applicants to the School's PhD programme interviewed?

Where ever possible, supervisors will ask to meet with potential applicants to the PhD programme to discuss their ideas with them in more detail before an application is made. All those applying for Funding will be formally interviewed. If it is not practical for an overseas applicant to attend interview, interviews can be done by telephone.

What if I have questions not answered in the FAQs?

If you have any academic queries not answered here, please contact our Directors of Graduate Studies, Professor Kathryn Yusoff (Director Graduate Studies - Human Geography) or Professor Geraldene Wharton (Director Graduate Studies - Physical Geography and Environmental Science). If you have any queries about the applications process not addressed here, please contact our Postgraduate Studies Manager (

Visiting and associate students application procedure

We welcome expressions of interest from PhD students at other institutions who wish to spend a period of study at Queen Mary. Visiting PhD students are welcome to join our research activities, including School Research Seminars, Research Frameworks and Physical Geography Group Meetings.

We invite potential applicants to make contact with a member of staff who could act as mentor during their stay in the School of Geography. Staff research interests can be found here 

Once mentoring arrangements have been put in place, students should formally submit an application to QMUL Admissions using the online application form. Acceptance of this will recognise the visitor as a student at QMUL and will provide Library, building and network access. The School of Geography will offer shared desk space in a dedicated computer room.

Visiting PhD students will normally be charged a bench fee of £500 per semester (or for an equivalent 3 month period). This is payable prior to completing enrolment.