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Postgraduate research: how to apply

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

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 admissions 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 admissions.doctoralacademy@manchester.ac.uk.

 

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. 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 to detect 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 admissions 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 admissions.doctoralacademy@manchester.ac.uk.

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 admissions application form

When on the 'Online Admissions Application' screen, for MPhil and PhD applications, select:

  • Level of Study - Postgraduate Research.
  • Entry Year – Select the academic year you wish to study in. For example, January and April 2022 are in the 2021/22 academic year and September 2022 is in the 2022/23 academic year.
  • Academic Programme– search for your main subject area of interest (for example, PhD Biochemistry, PhD Immunology). 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 (such as 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.
  • Section 6 of the online application form asks for Research Details.
    • If you are applying for specific project(s), you must state the name of the project supervisor and project title in the format below. You can indicate up to three supervisors here.
      1. Name of Supervisor – Project Title
      2. Name of Supervisor – Project Title
      3. Name of Supervisor – Project Title
    • If you are not applying for specific project(s), please provide the proposed area of Research or Project Title. We recommend that you make contact with potential supervisors before applying to find out whether they are able offer supervision in your preferred area of research.
  • Section 9 – Funding Sources. You will need to provide details of how you intend to fund your studies. It is important to give as much detail as possible about your known or expected funding arrangements.
    • If you are applying for a fully funded studentship, you must follow the instructions on the specific webpage for the programme.
    • If you have not secured or do not intend to apply for funding to cover the cost of your studies, you should select No. In this case, you do not need to provide any further details and we will assume that you are funding your studies yourself.
    • If you 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.

  • 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.

  • References

We require two references from people who have knowledge of your academic ability. These are usually academic references from a lecturer or professor at your previous university.

You will need to provide details of your referees in section 10 of the online form. Your referees will be contacted directly after you submit your application and directed to complete our online reference form.

Email addresses

It is recommended that the email address you provide for your referees is related to the academic institution or organisation to which they belong, rather than a personal use email (for example, john.smith@yahoo.com).

If a personal email address is provided, it may cause delays to your application, as extra steps may be required to verify this.

  • Certificates and transcripts

These should be from all of your previous degrees, including official translated copies where applicable.

  • Official English Language certificate

This should be a valid English language qualification, where applicable. See Step 5 below for further details.

  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Ensure your CV is current and up to date.

Your application will not be considered or progressed until all your supporting documents are supplied.

 

Step 5

In Section 5 of the online application form, you will be asked to provide details of how you meet the English Language requirement. 

We mainly accept IELTS or TOEFL tests. Please note IELTS and TOEFL are only valid for two years.

For the majority of PhD/MPhil applicants, we require a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 overall or TOEFL (iBT) 90. Each component of the English test should meet the minimum requirement of IELTS 5.5 in all components, TOEFL (iBT 22). For the writing component, we expect you to have achieved a minimum of 6.0 (IELTS).

Some programmes require overall IELTS 7.0 and in each component. Check requirements for your programme by searching on the subject listings page.

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

Please contact us at admissions.doctoralacademy@manchester.ac.uk for further information.

 

Step 6

Once submitted, you will receive an acknowledgement that your application has been received. Your application will be reviewed, once all of your supporting documents have been received, by the Doctoral Academy Admissions Team to ensure you meet the minimum entry requirements.

If eligibility is met your application will be reviewed by the proposed supervisor(s). Failure to provide the relevant documents may result in your application being withdrawn. We will also prioritise applications with complete supporting documents.

 

Step 7

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

At the interview, you may find you are asked to present on a previous research project you have conducted or comment on a scientific paper. Interviews are conducted by an independent 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 of the research area.

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

Application deadlines

You must submit your application for a postgraduate research programme before the relevant deadline to be considered. You will not be able to apply after these deadlines have passed.

  • January 2023 entry: 15 October 2022
  • April 2023 entry: 15 January 2023
  • September 2023 entry: 15 June 2023