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Research areas

What is a higher degree by research?

The qualifications attainable through research are usually the degrees of PhD and MPhil; some specialised areas have other awards (e.g. MD/MCh in Medicine).

The Master in Philosophy (MPhil) provides an opportunity for individual research work that may also serve as a probationary period for a PhD.

A PhD is usually required for an academic career or a career as a professional researcher.

There are also several professional doctorates aimed at specific professions, which offer the opportunity for personal and career development.

Finally, there are several research degrees that include some taught elements, such as Master of Research.

Research involves an in-depth study of a specific field. The results of the research are presented in a thesis and by oral examination (viva-voce). The work should be an original contribution to knowledge in the field.

What are the entry requirements for a research degree?

Applicants should possess (or expect to obtain) a UK higher education degree, or a non-UK qualification recognised by the University as being equivalent to this. Normally you will be required to have the equivalent of a 2:1 or above.

For more information on the entry requirements for your programme of choice, please visit the Course Finder database.

How long will it take to complete a research degree?

MPhil: Full-time: one or two years; Part-time: two or three years.

PhD: Full-time: usually three years; Part-time: usually up to five years, depending in each case on your entry qualifications.

Specific details about the time commitment involved will be detailed in the course literature that can be obtained from the contact telephone numbers/email addresses listed on our Course Finder database. The normal expectation is that full-time PhD students will complete their research within three years of the start of their candidature. Most PhD students will usually take a fourth year as a writing up period in which they are officially attached to the University as a 'research associate'. During this year you will not pay fees, but you will be eligible to pay council tax.

What are the dates of the academic year for a research degree?

There are typically four entry points for research degrees: 1st October, 1st January, 1st April and 1st July. However the majority of research students will enrol on 1st October.

When should I apply for a research degree?

For most research degrees, there is no application deadline and you can apply at any time.

Research degrees are also quite flexible and usually allow you to start your degree in October, January, April or July (subject to the approval of your academic school).

Specific research projects usually have a set application deadline. This will be highlighted in the project description.

If you are applying for external funding, it will usually be necessary to have applied and to hold a firm offer beforehand. Early application for your chosen research degree is therefore advisable so that you don't miss out on any funding opportunities.

Our 'How to apply' page provides further information on application procedures.

How will my work be assessed?

The results of the research are written up in the form of a thesis or dissertation. Following submission, there will be an oral examination (viva-voce).

Postgraduate