University of Bath

How to apply for doctoral study

Select a research programme and choose how you want to study. Find a supervisor and develop your own proposal or choose one of our academic-led projects.

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

Select a research programme

The first step to applying for doctoral study is to identify your subject area of interest and select a research programme.

Choose a research programme.

Study options

Our programmes have a range of options for doctoral study, including:

  • traditional PhD - an independent, supervised research project making an original and significant contribution to knowledge. Can be studied full, or part, time. It can be completed in two years, but most students take between three and four years to complete when studying full time.
  • integrated PhD - where the research project stage follows successful completion of an initial taught phase. Can be studied full or part time. Students register for five years and most students take between four and five years to complete when studying full time.
  • professional doctorate – at an equivalent level to a PhD, in a professional context, with a structure combining taught modules with a research phase. It is studied part time and varies in duration, from four to eight years.
  • MPhil – a supervised research degree with a shorter timescale than a PhD. It can be studied full or part time. Students normally take between one and three years to complete when studying full time.

Two ways to apply

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

  • choose to lead the development of your own research proposal, identifying a potential academic supervisor and securing your own funding to support your project
  • choose to apply for a defined, academic-led project

Choose to develop your own research proposal

Identify a supervisor

If you decide to develop your own research proposal, you must first find an academic who would be interested in supervising you. You don't need to find a supervisor if you apply for a defined, academic-led project or programmes that begin with a taught phase, for example, an integrated PhD or a professional doctorate.

You can find a suitable supervisor on the research and staff pages for each department. You can also browse Pure, the University’s research portal, for profiles of individual academics as well as the research centres, institutes and units to which they belong. Your proposed research project must be related to the academic's research interests. Make contact and discuss your proposed research before finalising your proposal.

Write your research proposal

Your research proposal should be at least 1,000 words in length and include:

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.

Choose to apply for a defined project

If you wish to apply for a defined, academic-led project, you can see which opportunities are currently available via Find a PhD.

The application process

To apply for either your own research proposal or a defined project, you must use the online application form.

On the application form, you will need to provide:

  • 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

Supporting information

You must 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 of these 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

International students

If you are an international student you should also provide:

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

Tier 4 part-time visa

If you are a non-EEA student wishing to undertake a part-time doctoral course longer than 6 months, you will need to apply for a Tier 4 (General) student part-time visa.

This does not apply to Distance Learning courses if your study visits to the UK are shorter than 56 days in any 6-month period, where a Short-term study visa will be required.

Strict restrictions are attached to the Tier 4 part-time visa, which we strongly recommend you understand before you proceed with your application.

After you have applied

When we receive your application we may contact you for more information or invite you to meet a potential supervisor to talk about your proposal.

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.

Accepting your offer

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