School of Earth and Environment

How to Apply

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Acceptance onto a research degree programme is dependent upon strong academic credentials and research potential, a well defined research project, and the availability of academic staff to supervise your research. If you are applying with your own project, please note that it can take some time to reach a decision on your application, because we must try and match your proposed research to available supervisory expertise.

Please check FAQ which will answer any queries you may have. Submit your on-line University Application for Research Degree Study

This page includes information about the documents that must support your application:

  • Funding
  • English language
  • Research Proposal or Advertised Projects
  • Academic references
  • Transcripts of previous study
  • Statement of motivation
  • CV

Funding: You need to give consideration to how you will fund your research degree study. If you have already secured sponsorship, or plan to self-fund, we would like to see evidence that you are able to meet the costs of your research degree study (eg, copy of your sponsorship letter). If you are applying for a University scholarship, please see the attached summary, or visit  Alternatively, you may be applying for 'Projects with Guaranteed Funding' in which case in the funding section of the study application form (see link below) you need to clearly identify this.

English Language: If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you meet our requirements for English language (eg, IELTS/TOEFL).

Academic References: Before we can give full consideration to your application, we will need a minimum of two strong academic referencesThese can be submitted with your application if they are signed, or alternatively, they can be sent to us by email, directly by the referee.

Transcripts and certificates of ALL degrees to date (if you have not yet completed your current degree, you will need to send an official transcript of your interim results).

Statement of Motivation/personal statement (normally for UK/EU applicants only).  If you are applying for an advertised project you need to make it very clear on your study application form in Section D Finance under Sponsor details saying that this is a funded project AND in Section K under Research Information type the full title of the project that you are applying for and list the names of the supervisors.  You have now identified an advertised project and so need to provide a Statement of Motivation/personal statement with the project title at the top of your A4 page and then go on to explain why the project is of interest to you and how your skills map onto the requirements for this project. This should ideally be no more than one A4 side however there is no word limit.

Research Proposal (normally International applicants and any other candidates who have secured their own sponsorship or who are self-funding their research degree). This should be no longer than 6 pages, plus references. It should include an introduction to the topic, the aims of the research and the specific research questions, full methodology, and referencing.  Research proposals will be checked for originality. Potential supervisors will check that you have a good grasp of the literature and understand the major issues, and that your methodology is sound. A well-written proposal will demonstrate your competence, as well as helping us to make sure that we have staff with the expertise needed for successful completion of your research.

Advertised Projects: If you are applying for a project which is being advertised, such as a project which has guaranteed funding, or a project in competition for a Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) award (eg, NERC), you do not need to write a research proposal (unless this is specifically requested, eg, ESRC). In such cases, when you fill in the on-line study application form, in Section L, which asks for a research proposal, you simply need to type the full project title and the names of the supervisors.  If you are submitting a research proposal with your application, a statement of motivation/personal statement is not normally required, unless specifically requested.

Curriculum Vitae (CV/resume): which shows high levels of academic achievement, including high school results, and appropriate non-academic experience.

Please note that, if successful, the application for research degree study will result in the offer of a study place only.

If you do not have your own sponsorship/funding in place AND you have an outstanding academic track record (generally First Class/Distinction results at undergraduate and Master's degrees) and would like to be considered for one of the very competitive University scholarship competitions, you are required to submit a separate application for the scholarship (in addition to this application for the study place) and you should visit for further information.

If you are a UK/EU candidate who has made an on-line study application for one of the projects in the competition for NERC Doctoral Training Partnership awards, you need do nothing further at this stage.