Six steps to apply for a PhD
1. Formulate your research idea
In order to achieve a PhD you need to make an original contribution to the understanding of a problem, to the advancement of knowledge or the generation of new ideas. To prepare for writing your research proposal:
- Read as much as possible around your subject area
- Consider how you would present your idea in a proposal. Remember, your research topic also needs to be of sufficient depth to sustain your interest for three to four years.
2. Select the most appropriate research centre, institute, school or faculty
3. Contact a potential supervisor
It’s really easy to contact your potential supervisor, simply complete the Postgraduate Research Enquiry Form and we will identify academics with experience in a relevant field and get them to contact you to discuss your proposed research in more detail.
Alternatively contact the Graduate School who will be able to identify an appropriate member of academic staff for you to talk to (0151 231 6463/6464/6467)
4. Finalise your research proposal
Armed with positive feedback from relevant academic staff, you can draft a research proposal. This needs to include:
- Details on your intended area of research
- Core research questions
- Possible methodologies
- Proposed approach
- Timescale for completion
5. Make your application
Submit the following details via our online application form:
- Your qualifications
- Work experience
- Academic referees
- A pre-written Personal Statement (copied and pasted into the application form)
- A pre-written research proposal (to be copied and pasted into the application form
International applicants will also need to provide passport details and/or an International Agent Number.
Plan how you are going to fund your PhD by:
- Finding out the deadlines for applying for grants and bursaries
- Contacting the relevant research centre, institute, school or faculty for details on the University’s student fee bursary and PhD Studentship Schemes
For more information on funding available, see the financing your study section.
Your research proposal should:
- Outline your proposed area of study
- Demonstrate that you have the ability to carry out original doctoral-level research
- Help us to identify an appropriate supervisor matching your area of interest
- Be no more than 2,500 words
Information to include:
- A title (you can revise this during your research should you be accepted).
- A short statement on what you want to examine as part of your research.
- A brief overview of the general area of study within which your proposed research falls, summarising the current state of knowledge and recent debates on the topic. This will allow you to demonstrate a familiarity with the relevant field as well as your ability to communicate clearly and concisely.
- The central aims and questions that will guide your research and how you intend to answer these questions. Try not to make these too broad. Instead prioritise one or two main questions, from which secondary questions may follow.
- Briefly state the main research techniques (interviews, case studies, modelling, etc) that you might use, plus data collection procedures.
- An explanation of why your research is important and what makes it original in your chosen field.
- A bibliography identifying the most relevant and recent works for your subject area.
For more help with how to write your research proposal, download the Research booklet.