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Postgraduate research: how to apply

Applying for a place on one of our postgraduate research programmes requires some advance preparation.

Application deadlines for 2021 entry

Due to a planned upgrade of the university student system taking place over the summer, postgraduate research applications to the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health will be closed during this time.

You must submit your application for a postgraduate research programme before the relevant deadline to be considered for entry in September 2021. 

  • Home/UK applicants: 15 July 2021
  • International (including EU) applicants: 1 July 2021

You will not be able to apply after these deadlines have passed.

Applications for 2022 entry will open in the second week of October 2021. You will not be able to submit an application before then.

Entry requirements

For entry to most of our PhD programmes, we require a bachelor's (Honours) degree with a minimum Upper Second class (or the overseas equivalent) in a relevant subject area.

Candidates applying with a Lower Second class bachelor's (Honours) degree may be considered if there is evidence of academic progress through master’s study (taught master’s at a minimum grade of Merit). Alternatively, they may be considered for an MPhil instead.

Competition for entry to our funded programmes is high. We would not generally consider applicants with a Lower Second class degree unless they have considerable research experience and/or a good master's degree.

How to apply

Applications for postgraduate study are submitted online through the University's online application system.

Follow the steps listed below carefully to complete your online application. If you have any questions, please contact the Doctoral Academy Admissions Team at


Step 1

Decide on the type of degree you wish to apply for.

  • PhD - For entry to our PhD programmes, we require a Bachelors (Hons) degree with a minimum Upper Second (or the overseas equivalent) in a relevant subject area. 
  • MPhil - For applicants interested in an MPhil, we can usually accept a Bachelors degree with a Lower Second (or the overseas equivalent).
  • MD Medicine - Please contact us for information on how to apply.

If you are interested in a funded programme or studentship, follow the application instructions on the specific webpages for that programme and check the associated deadlines.

If you are interested in funded PhD programmes and projects, you may need to apply earlier than self-funded candidates.

The majority of funded programmes and studentships are advertised between October and March for PhD study starting the following September.

  • View funded programmes including DTPs and CDTs, and follow the instructions on those websites on how to apply.
  • Search for projects (use the funding type filter to find funded projects) and follow the instructions below.

Step 2

Decide on the project(s) that are most relevant to your research interests by searching our list of available projects. You can include up to three projects/supervisors on a single application.

In a small number of cases, it may not be possible to match you to one of your preferred projects/supervisors. However, we will always endeavour to find you an alternative project by bringing your application to the attention of other potential supervisors.

The University uses electronic systems for the purposes of detecting plagiarism and other forms of academic malpractice and for assessment. A number of programmes will require the submission of a research proposal as part of the application process. The Doctoral Academy upholds the principle that where a candidate approaches the University with a project of study, this should be original. While it is understandable that research may arise out of previous studies, it is vital that a candidate's proposal is not the subject of plagiarism. 


Step 3

Once you have decided on your project, please apply using the online application form.

Please make sure you read all instructions for completing the online application carefully. If you have any problems with the online form, please contact the Doctoral Academy Admissions Team at

If you do not find an ideal project, don't be discouraged. The Faculty encourages outstanding candidates to contact us directly regarding a potential application. You can either contact the academic you are interested in working with directly, or contact the Doctoral Academy Admissions Team for advice.

Completing the online application form

When on the 'Create New Application' screen, for MPhil and PhD applications, select:

  • Academic Career – Postgraduate Research.
  • Mode of Attendance - Specify full/part-time.
  • Programme Description – search for your main subject area of interest (e.g. Biochemistry, Immunology, etc). Do not worry too much about the area, but try to select one that meets your general interests. For funded programmes, search for the Programme title (i.e. BBSRC MRC).
  • The full range of subject areas we offer in the Faculty can be found on the subject listings page. You can select one of these for self-funded applications in particular.
  • Step 3 of the online application form asks for your Proposed Research Supervisor. You can indicate up to three supervisors here: one in the Proposed Research Supervisor box and up to two more in the Further Information box.
  • Step 8 - funding. If you are applying for a fully funded studentship, please select 'Internal' from the Internal/External drop-down menu and 'University Scholarship' from the Award Type drop-down menu. If you are self-funding or have other sources of funding, please indicate this here and include your scholarship letter, if you have one.

Step 4

Your application form must be accompanied by a number of supporting documents.

1. A supporting statement. This should summarise:

  • your motivation for postgraduate research study;
  • why you want to do a postgraduate research degree in Manchester;
  • any research experience that you have.

If you have completed a research project during your undergraduate/master's study, please give a short description of the work you undertook, including the following details:

  • the research problem
  • your key findings
  • techniques acquired and skills learned.

This information is especially important for applicants from overseas, so we can fully assess your practical background and experience alongside your academic qualifications. Failure to include this information may delay the processing of your application.

2. Two references from people who have knowledge of your academic ability. 

  • References must be signed, dated and on headed paper.
  • References should be accompanied by a Referee Report Form
  • Please ensure that your referees complete this form electronically and submit this with your application, or email it to the Doctoral Academy Admissions Team at

3. Certificates and transcripts from all of your previous degrees.

4. Official English Language transcript (IELTS or TOEFL) - see Step 5 below for further details.

5. Current Curriculum Vitae (CV).

All supporting documents can be either:

  • uploaded and submitted with the online application form


  • sent directly to the Doctoral Academy Admissions Team.

Your application cannot be considered until all your supporting documents are supplied.


Step 5

For applicants whose first language is not English, or if you have not studied recently in the UK, you must supply an official IELTS or TOEFL transcript to support your application, or provide a date on which you will be taking a test. Please note the IELTS and TOEFL are only valid for two years.

If your IELTS or TOEFL expires before the start of your programme, you will need to take another official English test before we can issue you with a CAS for your visa application. This is a requirement of UKVI.

For the majority of PhD/MPhil applicants, we require a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 overall or TOEFL (iBT) 90. Some programmes require overall IELTS 7.0 and in each component, please check the subject listings page.

Each component of the English test should meet the minimum requirement of IELTS 5.5 in all components or 22 in TOEFL (iBT). For the writing component in IELTS, we expect that you have achieved a minimum of 6.0.

For more information about English language tests, see English language requirements.

Please contact us at for further information.


Step 6

Once submitted, you will receive acknowledgement that your application has been received. Once all of your supporting documents have been received, your application will be reviewed by Doctoral Academy Admissions Team and the proposed supervisor(s).


Step 7

You will be kept informed of the progress of your application throughout the application procedure. If appropriate, you will be invited for interview either in person or via Skype.

At interview, you may find you are asked to present on a previous research project you have conducted or comment on a scientific paper. Interviews usually consist of the academic supervisor and a postgraduate tutor.

Show enthusiasm for the project you are applying for. A PhD is a great commitment, so you must demonstrate your interest and wider knowledge on the research area.

You can find out more about our research areas or search for a member of staff in the University research explorer.