University of Bath

How to apply for doctoral study

Find a research area and a supervisor, develop your proposal or choose a project, and make your application.

New doctoral students meet Doctoral College staff
We'll support you through the application process

Decide on a research programme

The first step to applying for doctoral study is identifying your area of interest and choosing a research programme.

You can choose programmes from:

You can also apply to one of our centres for doctoral training and partnerships.

From there, you can choose from a range of options for doctoral study, including:

  • standard PhDs
  • integrated PhDs with taught elements
  • doctoral training programmes
  • professional doctorates

You can apply to study for a doctorate in two different ways

There are two main routes to doctoral study, depending on your area of interest.

  1. You might decide to lead on the development of your own research proposal, identifying your supervisor (also known as an academic) and securing funding to support your idea.
  2. You might choose to apply for an existing project which a supervisor is already leading on.

Develop your own proposal

If you decide to develop your own research proposal, it should be at least 1,000 words. It should include:

  • your name
  • the programme you plan to study
  • a tentative title for your thesis
  • the name of your intended supervisor (if known)

You should also include your:

  • aims and objectives
  • rationale
  • methodology
  • intended timeline
  • bibliography

Aim and objectives

Set out the central aims and research questions that will guide your research. Explain what questions you are trying to answer or which hypotheses you want to test. When outlining your aims and questions, prioritise one or two central questions from which you can derive secondary ones.


Contextualise your aims and objectives in a broader field of study, identifying the main literature or authors that you are addressing.


Explain how you are going to conduct your research; what information you would need, how you would collect it and how you are going to analyse it. This only needs to be indicative at the moment.


You don’t need to produce a detailed timeline, but it is helpful to provide a summary of what you are planning to do and when.


Provide a short bibliography of key publications related to your research question.

Identify a supervisor

You must find an academic to supervise you if you want to develop your own research proposal. You can find a suitable supervisor on the research and staff pages for each department.

Your proposed research project must be related to the academic's research interests. If possible, try to make contact and discuss your proposed research.

You don't need to find a supervisor if you apply for a professional doctorate, an integrated PhD which starts with a taught phase or an advertised project.

Choose a defined project

If you decide not to develop your own proposal and apply instead for a standard PhD, you need to apply for a project advertised by one of our academics. Look at our departmental web pages to find out about research areas and advertised projects.

The application process

To apply, you must use the online application form. You will need to create an account before you can start the process.

On the application form, you will need to give:

  • your personal details
  • your passport details if you need a Tier 4 visa
  • the date you plan to start
  • your plans for finance and funding
  • your education details
  • proof of your English level if English is not your first language
  • details of your intended research and the names of your intended supervisors
  • the names and contact details of your referees, including at least one from academia if you have been studying recently
  • your supporting information

Please do provide all of the necessary supporting information listed below. If you don't submit this, we will ask for it later and if you don't provide it, we won't be able to assess your application.

  • a scan of your undergraduate degree certificate and your postgraduate degree certificate (if you have one)
  • a scan of your degree transcript and your interim degree transcript (if you are still studying)
  • two references (one must be from the institution where you have studied most recently)
  • the name, or names, of your intended supervisors (up to three)
  • details of your proposed research
  • an up-to-date CV
  • an indication of your funding plans

If you are an international student, you should also have:

  • an authorised translation of your degree certificate and transcript if they are not in English
  • your English language assessment certificate (if available)

After you have applied

Track your application

We aim to make decisions about applications within six weeks of receiving all your supporting information. You can check the progress of your application by logging into our doctoral Application Tracker.

We will send you Application Tracker login details after you submit your application. If you forget your password, you can reset it.

We may contact you for more information or to invite you to meet a potential supervisor to talk about your proposal.

Accepting your offer

We will let you know whether or not you have been successful through the postgraduate Application Tracker. If you have been, we will make you an offer. You should accept or decline your offer through Application Tracker as soon as possible.

Receiving an unconditional offer

If you receive an unconditional offer, you have met all the required academic conditions and we are offering you a place.

Receiving a conditional offer

If you receive a conditional offer, you may not have met all the requirements, but we hope you will be able to do so. These requirements may include English language scores, degree results or satisfactory references. You must meet these requirements and submit evidence of them through Application Tracker before you can start your research with us.

When you meet the conditions of your offer, we will contact you about the next steps.

Withdrawing your application

If you change your mind for any reason and no longer want to study at Bath, email to withdraw your application.