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How to Complete a PhD Application in the UK?

pens and paper for a phd application

The process for PhD applications in the UK involves several complex stages such as searching for a supervisor or choosing a research topic. To help you out, we have prepared a short guide on completing the application process from start to finish.    

1. Choose a Topic Area or a Suitable Course

The first stage in any PhD application process is to choose a topic area. Remember, you’ll be committed to a PhD for a long time (e.g. 3 years), meaning that the topic will need to be not only unique but also interesting. A recommendation is to link your PhD to your personal interests in a specific scientific area. For example, if you’re studying linguistics and have always found non-verbal languages to be fascinating, you might want to consider a project on sign language or Braille.

2. Decide on the University and Your Supervisor

The second part is to search for whether there exist any available PhD positions in your area of interest. A lot of universities only provide a small number of PhD programmes in narrowly-defined areas, meaning that your search might take a while. PhD application in the UK also involves searching for a suitable supervisor. If would be best to choose a professor with whose works (e.g. research publications or books) you are at least partially familiar. It is even better if you know them in person or have met during conferences.

3. Prepare Your Proposal

A proposal might not be a strict part of the PhD application requirements, but it is still useful to have a formal document focusing on the rationale for your study and the proposed methods. If you are wondering how to prepare for a PhD application, it is best to conduct a detailed literature review and choose a very narrow research gap. Briefly summarising the methods that are prevalent in your chosen field should also help.

4. Fill the Formal PhD Application

Each university has its own specific guidelines for PhD applications in the UK. Some will require you to submit a list of references as well as a PhD application letter. Others could be content with a simple form and a research proposal. It would be good to keep a separate check-list for each university you are applying to avoid confusion and make sure you meet all the relevant guidelines.

5. Preparing for Context-Specific Requirements

Individual PhD programmes might also have conditions going beyond standardised requirements. For example, to complete the PhD application process, you might also need to participate in a PhD interview. Remember not to put too much pressure on yourself. If you have made it this far, you are sure to know enough about your topic area to impress your interviewer.

While the PhD application process in the UK might seem complicated, the entire procedure could be summarised as 5 separate steps. We hope that this guide helps you in developing your career and in attaining a PhD position you have always wanted. If you search for professional help to complete your PhD application, please, contact us!