How To Apply

Entrance requirements for a PhD at the University of Aberdeen are either a Masters degree or a first or upper-second class Honours degree in an appropriate area from an approved university (or an equivalent qualification).

Those with lower qualifications may be asked to register for a Masters degree by research (Mlitt, MSc, MTh, LLM, MLE or MRes) with satisfactory progress allowing conversion to a PhD programme.

Step 1. Define your research area

Most applicants will already know what area they wish to specialise in. Initial research will allow you to refine your ideas. If you are going to be self-funding your research degree as opposed to applying for a funded opportunity then you should identify potential sources of funding and find out if they are applicable to the area you are interested in.

Step 2. Select the best School or Institute for you

You can browse our Schools and Institutes online to identify research project and academic staff:

Step 3. Consider a pre-defined PhD project

You can also apply to a pre-defined PhD. These are projects which the University has identified as strong research opportunities for high calibre applicants. You can find out more information on these PhDs here:

Step 4. Contact potential supervisors

You should contact potential supervisors within your school or institute of interest to discuss research proposals. If applying for a pre-defined project make contact with your identified supervisor before you apply to introduce yourself and ask any questions. Contact details for staff can be found here:

Step 5. Write your research proposal

Some students, such as those who are not applying for a pre-defined or funded project, will likely need to write a research proposal as part of their application. You can find out more about this during your application.

Step 6. Submit your online application

All applications should be made using our online application form:  You will be sent an email informing you of whether you have a place on your chosen programme. If there are conditions attached to the offer please ensure these are completed and sent back as soon as possible.

Step 7. Accepting your offer

If you are offered a place and wish to accept your offer, please return your completed acceptance forms as soon as possible. If you are waiting to hear the outcome of a funding application you can still accept the offer of admission then send the relevant financial forms of sponsorship later.

Structure and Assessment

The structure and assessment of research degrees can vary. Students may register either for full-time or part-time study, although for visa purposes international students can only study full time. Study can be wholly within the University or in association with other research centres in the UK or overseas. If you are an international student, you may be able to undertake most of your study in your own country with a minimum of six months spent in Aberdeen over the course of three years. Applications for this will be considered on a case by case basis, depending on the supervisory arrangements available in the home country.

The precise focus of research is agreed between the supervisor and the student, to suit the student’s particular interests and needs as much as possible. During the first year, students may be required to undertake some formal research training which is compulsory in some disciplines. Throughout the research period students will be encouraged to attend specialist seminars and conferences and keep staff and fellow students informed of their progress at seminars within the School or College.

Assessment for PhDs is on the basis of a thesis and oral examination.