student participation

Applying to study with us

Qaa image

The Quality Assurance Agency is an independent body responsible for standards in UK universities.

The QAA Guide is an excellent guide for students starting a research degree, who want to know more about the structure and format of UK research degrees.

How to apply

Research and Doctoral programmes

 The application process

  1. Select the programme of study you would like to apply to
  2. Obtain electronic copies of your degree transcripts/certificates
  3. Obtain electronic copies of your English language proficiency documents, if required
  4. Contact potential referee(s) to ask them to provide a reference to support your application
  5. Write your research proposal
  6. Prepare your personal statement
  7. Prepare your CV, if required
  8. Submit an online application via the programme web page

Supporting documents required

All application documents must be submitted in English. Certified translated copies of academic qualifications must also be provided.

Degree transcripts/certificates

This can either be your final degree transcript and certificate, if you have completed your degree, or an interim transcript if you are currently studying for your degree.

A transcript is a list of the modules you have or are studying, complete with your final or current marks.  Transcripts submitted as part of your application must be official transcripts or verified by your academic institution (in the case of interim transcripts).

English language proficiency documents

Please visit our English Language requirements page for full details.


We normally require two academic references, preferably from a current or past tutor who can comment on your academic work and ability.

If you are unable to obtain an academic reference, we will also accept a professional reference from a current or recent employer, which discusses your work ethic and ability to complete tasks to strict deadlines, etc.

Please note that you may be asked to provide additional references post-application if required.

We will not be contacting referees to request references, you must arrange for them to be submitted to us by the application deadline.  References should be submitted by your referees to us directly in the form of a letter.  Referees must email their references to us from their institutional email accounts.  We cannot accept references from personal/private email accounts, unless it is a scanned document on institutional headed paper and signed by the referee.

Academic Writing Sample

A 2000-4000 word recent academic writing sample, in English.

Research proposal

As part of the application for admission all Research and Doctoral programmes you must prepare a research proposal outlining your proposed area of study. The aim of the proposal is to determine your area of research interest so you can be matched with an appropriate supervisor, and to give you an opportunity to demonstrate to us that you have the aptitude to undertake doctoral level research. It is the most important document submitted as part of your application, so we strongly encourage you to spend time preparing it and to take into account these guidelines.

We understand that your proposal will be indicative at this stage. If you have not already identified a possible supervisor, before writing your proposal it is advisable to look at our staff profiles and check on the research interests of academic staff in our departments to see if they match your interests.

Your research proposal should be no longer than 1,500-2,000 words (3 or 4 sides of A4) and contain the following information:

  • your name
  • proposed programme of study
  • tentative title of thesis
  • proposed supervisor (if known)*

You should also include:

Aims and objectives - set out the central aims and research questions that guide your research. What hypothesis or argument are you trying to explore and what questions are you trying to answer? When outlining your questions try to prioritise one or two central questions from which you can derive secondary ones.

Rationale - contextualise your questions/aims in a broader field of study, identifying the main literature that you are addressing. You need to explain why your research questions/hypotheses are important and topical.

Methodology - explain how you are going to conduct your research; what information you would need, how you would collect it and how you are going to analyse it. This need only be indicative at the moment.

Timeline – You don’t need to produce a detailed time plan, but it is helpful to provide a summary of what you are planning to do and when. You are required to submit your thesis within three years (six years for part-time students) so it is important you have a feasible timeline. This section is especially important if you are proposing to undertake case study work or fieldwork.

Cost - if you are aware you will incur significant expenses, such as travel abroad or entrance fees for archives, etc, during the course of your studies, please include estimated costs and any additional relevant details in your research proposal.  Please note that the College provides its research students with an annual research allowance of c.£200 per year for full time students (pro rata for part time students) and you will be expected to cover any additional research-related costs incurred above this allowance.

Bibliography – a short bibliography of relevant works in your research area.

If you would like further guidance, please consult the University's Research Proposal Guide when preparing this for submission.

Your research proposal should be solely focused on your proposed topic of research and not on your suitability as a student for the programme.  This information should instead be included in your personal statement or covering letter (please see below).

Anticipated Training Requirements

You should also provide information about your anticipated training requirements, for example language training, quantitative methods and database training, palaeography. If you wish to pursue an interdisciplinary study, required training in other disciplines should also be listed. 

Personal statement, or Covering letter (for funding applications only)

Your personal statement should be no more than c.500 words in length.  Your personal statement should discuss why you are applying to this degree programme; why you feel you are suited to this degree programme (and/or pathway if applicable); and what you would like to use the degree for post-graduation.


If you are applying from a non-standard background, which means that you do not meet the standard entry criteria or you have been away from academia for a significant period of time (more than 5 years) we recommend you include a CV as part of your application.

Your CV should include your academic qualifications as well as any relevant work experience you may have had.  If you have been actively involved in the research community for your chosen field of study, for example published papers in journals, etc, please include this information here as well.

Submitting your application

Applications are normally submitted online via the programme web page

When you initially log in to the system you will be asked to create a username and password.  Please make a note of these, as you will then be able to login to the system and continue to complete your application or keep updated on its status.

You can start completing an online application form at any time and continue to revise and update it until you are ready to submit.  Please note that all mandatory fields must be completed before you are able to submit your application to the University (you will be advised which sections are mandatory when you login to the online application form).

You will have the opportunity to upload your supporting documents to your online application form, or you can submit them directly to the University's Postgraduate Admissions Office.

If you are experiencing any problems with the online application form or are unable to upload your documents, please contact the University's Postgraduate Admissions Office for advice.

Deadline for applications

For September 2017 entry:

Advisory deadline for international students: Friday 5 May 2017 (due to visa processing requirements).

Advisory deadline for Home/EU students: Friday 21 July 2017

Further information

The University's central Admissions Office also provides excellent guidance on applying for postgraduate study on their dedicated website.

*Please note that even if a member of faculty has suggested they will supervise or are interested in supervising your research, this does not guarantee admission.  Applicants must also meet set entry criteria and submit an application that is of the quality required to receive an offer of a place to study with us.

you should also provide information about your anticipated training requirements, for example language training, quantitative methods and database training, palaeography. If you wish to pursue an interdisciplinary study, required training in other disciplines should also be listed.