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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Lecturer at a lecturn

A PhD is an internationally-recognised research qualification. You can study for your PhD on-campus or by distance-learning.

Studying for your PhD in the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science means that you will undertake an extended, original research project allowing you to become an expert in your specialist area and gain high-quality research skills.

You’ll have regular meetings with your supervisors who will read your work and provide detailed feedback and advice. You’ll also develop an initial training plan to make sure you are acquiring the appropriate skills for your research and that your progress is monitored.


You will conduct original research work under the guidance of your supervisors. Your initial priority is to refine a research plan and establish a feasible timescale for your project. During the early part of your PhD, you will undertake research methods modules to support your research activities.

For the first 12 months (or 18 months if part-time) you’ll be enrolled as a provisional PhD student and you'll develop a detailed research proposal and write a literature review. This work will be submitted to a panel of examiners who will assess it and provide you with feedback and advice on the progress of your research.

This is called 'transfer' and is an important means of monitoring the progress of your work and assessing whether your proposal has enough weight to be accurately explored through a PhD research path.

After successful transfer, you will enrol as a full PhD student, complete your research and write a thesis of approximately 100,000 words.

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy is awarded on the basis of this thesis, and your viva voce, where you present and discuss the rationale, methods and findings of your original study with an examining panel.


A PhD can be taken full-time (3 years standard) or part-time (five years standard).

Areas of supervision

Research opportunities are available across the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science. Each specialism in the School has its own research areas, each of which has a successful and thriving research community.

Entry requirements

You should hold a good honours degree (upper second class or first class) in a related discipline, and hold, or expect to obtain, a Masters degree a related subject.

If English is not your first language, you will also need an English language qualification, for example IELTS 6.5 with at least 6.0 in all components.

You can improve your academic English level to the standard needed to study a postgraduate research degree by taking one of the following pre-sessional courses:

The distance-learning PhD requires IELTS score of 7.0 overall, no less than 6.5 in every component.

Scholarships and fees

A range of scholarships are available for PhD students. 

Fees for PhD programmes are set independently and reviewed on annual basis.

PhD by Distance Learning

The School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science offers a PhD by Distance Learning which is available to UK, EU and international applicants.

For further information, please contact Dr Mic Spencer, Head of the Graduate School. 

Jim Baxter PhD Philosophy

View profile for Jim Baxter
I enjoyed being able to dedicate such a large amount of time to thinking deeply about a single question. Doing a PhD is pretty much the only way you can do that and it’s a real privilege. I also think there’s a lot to be said for doing a PhD part-time. It takes a long time, but it’s great to have something separate from work that you can dedicate time and attention to like that. 
View Profile for Jim Baxter
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