How To Apply

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.

Before you apply

Admission to the University of Aberdeen is entirely on merit and based on the ability to achieve. We operate an admissions policy which ensures equality of opportunity to all applicants. Applications are welcomed from students with excellent academic potential and the University recognises the importance of admitting applicants to a degree suited to their ability and aspirations. The selection process therefore takes account of all aspects of an application and not just an applicant's academic profile.

In seeking to attract applications from students with excellent academic potential, the University of Aberdeen is committed to widening participation and to promoting wider access to Higher Education. There are no admissions quotas which advantage or disadvantage any group of applicants and the University of Aberdeen is committed to treating all applicants within the admissions cycle fairly.

Every degree has an admissions selector, who considers all the applications for that area of study. Selectors are interested in an applicant's academic achievements but they will also take note of the spread of subjects studied and will check for competence in any specific subjects required for particular subjects. Selectors take an applicant's personal statement and the Referee's Report into account when they make their decision, as well as actual or predicted examination grades. Selectors are looking for evidence of knowledge and understanding of a subject, of commitment, motivation and responsibility, and ability to cope with the challenges of a university education.

Applications for admission to all degrees are considered without regard to any inappropriate distinction eg ethnicity or national origin, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, gender, religious or political beliefs, marital status or socio-economic background. Mature students (those who will be 21 or over at the time they start an undergraduate degree), and students who have suffered educational hardship or disruption (including students with disabilities), may receive special consideration.

The University of Aberdeen believes a diverse student population is important from an educational and social perspective; enhancing the educational experience for all.

The University's Guidance Notes for Admission provide further information for applicants who wish to submit an application.

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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 - 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 3 - Contact potential supervisors

You can contact potential supervisors within your school or institute of interest to discuss research proposals. If applying for a pre-defined project, you can choose to 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 4 - 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 5 - 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 6 - 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. Find out about accepting your offer.

Additional information

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, if they wish to study on campus. Applications to undertake a PhD via distance learning are considered and potential applicants should refer to the relevant Research Areas page to check what is offered in the research area they wish to study.

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.