A PhD is a type of research degree and is the highest award available at universities in the UK. Study is based around a substantial research project on an area of academic interest, typically up to 100,000 words in length, written as a thesis which then must be defended in an oral examination in front of a panel of experts. Students are assigned a supervisor and the duration of a PhD is typically three years full-time and six years part-time.
Very few research degrees feature taught modules, and as such a student is expected to take more responsibility for their work and schedule.
UK universities are free to admit anyone to a PhD programme, with admission generally conditional on the prospective student having successfully completed an undergraduate degree with at least upper second-class honours, as well as a masters degree. English language ability will need to be proved and a minimum IELTS score of 7.0 is generally required.
A research proposal (example) is required by all students when applying to study a PhD. The proposal should clearly address the research you wish to undertake, how you will do it, and why it is important. The proposal must be accepted by a panel of experts before your programme can begin.
If you wish to study a PhD, you may first need to begin an MPhil and then transfer to a PhD programme after 12-18 months. An MPhil is also a qualification in its own right and is generally thesis-only, lasting one year full-time and two years part-time. The thesis must present the results of a study and research and be a maximum of 60,000 words.
Students choose to study an MPhil if the proposed research has insufficient scope for a full PhD.
An MRes is an advanced postgraduate research degree within the areas of art, humanities and social sciences. Some PhD’s require an MRes qualification before beginning a PhD proper, and the student is required to complete a 40,000 word dissertation.
An MRes is a good test to see if you enjoy conducting your research without fully committing to and funding a full PhD.
Professional doctorates are similar to a PhD, but are intended to advance professional practice, rather than improve academic ability. Common professional doctorates include law, education, business, engineering and medicine.
Funding and researching a PhD can be expensive, with EU students paying up to £6,000 per year, and international students more.
It is rare for a PhD student to not be supported by some form of bursary, grant or scholarship though, and many universities and research councils provide monetary support for part or all of a PhD programme.
Once you have decided on an area of research and have looked into how you will fund your study, there are a number of documents required when submitting your application. They can include:
Students will also need to identify a supervisor who will oversee their PhD.
If you are interested in studying a research degree in the UK, arrange a free consultation in Kampala today. The PhD Service can help you apply with expert application advice, interview practice and research proposal editing.
My counsellor contacted me every day throughout the application process and helped me receive an unconditional offer. I am so grateful to SI-UK and will never forget them. I will study very hard as I feel this is the best reward I can give the whole team.
Maggie Kiwanuka Social Care at Canterbury Christ Church University