How to apply

Notebook and pen

Watch our webinar for an introduction to PhD proposal writing and funding.

You can also listen to the webinar as an MP3 podcast (with a transcript and slides also available).

How do I apply?

The easiest way to apply for a research degree is through our online system, which will allow you to track your application at each stage of the process.

Before you make an application we recommend that you consider how your proposed research fits with our staff and their research interests, and the research areas of the School.

Applications can be made at any time of the year, however, we recommend that you contact your preferred supervisors before submitting an application and well in advance of scholarship deadlines.

For any enquiries please contact or +44 (0)113 343 8713

How do I write a research proposal?

Your proposal should be up to 3000 words, including a bibliography. We use your proposal to assess the potential of your topic for research, and to match your interests with appropriate supervisors.

Please provide the following information in separate sections:

  1. Whether you are applying for a PhD or a practice-led PhD (where your research questions can only be answered through practical engagement).
  2. Your central research question.
  3. A list of sub-questions that inform or underpin the central research question. This should take the form of a brief outline of the general area of study, and should do the following: identify the context within which you place your research; identify the key relevant literature and/or practice for your proposed research project; demonstrate that you are aware of current debates and issues; make reference to key articles and texts; demonstrate your own expertise in your chosen area; and articulate the potential contribution to new knowledge in the chosen field of research (for example, what are the gaps in the field that you can see, or what limitations are there in the current field). A PhD is an original piece of work and this section should demonstrate that your proposed area of study has not been studied before or that you have a new angle on this area of study or that you are applying new methodologies and/or models to this area of study.
  4. An outline of the methods you intend to employ in your research and the kinds of data you'll require. You may use a variety of methods, including qualitative methods, literature review and studio experimentation, amongst others. Specify the approach you feel will be most appropriate for your research project.
  5. An explanation of why you are interested in this research and why you are well placed to conduct the research. 
  6. Practice-led Research Rationale. If you are applying for practice-led research: a rationale for choosing this method of research and evidence of your experience of working through practice.
  7. A brief bibliography that supports the key concepts, frameworks and, if appropriate, existing practices/performances, that you have discussed in your context section.
  8. A sample of your own practice.
  9. If you are applying for practice-led research then you should supply a sample of your work on a DVD or a website. (If you need to submit your sample in another format then please contact us to check that we will be able to access it.) The sample should be of suitable length and content for us to assess the quality of your practice in relation to your proposed methodology.

If you have any questions about writing your research proposal, please contact Dr Ally Walsh, Director of Post Graduate Research Studies, at

What documents do I need to apply for a research degree?

  • application form
  • copies of all transcripts and degree certificates
  • research proposal 
  • IELTS certificate (where appropriate)
  • two academic references in support of your application - enter the names and contact details on the application form. Your referees should be qualified to comment on your academic ability and should not be from people related to you by blood or marriage. You are responsible for contacting your referees and ensuring that all necessary references are received.

You 'll also need to supply the names of supervisors you would be interested in working with.

What happens next?

When the School receives your application, we will contact you. Wherever possible, we call candidates for interview. For international students, this can be a telephone or Skype call interview. We will let you know the result of your application as soon as possible.