Female PhD students

Your postgraduate research application

How to apply for a postgraduate research degree

Looking for funded PhDs?

Discover our funded PhD scholarships, see if you're eligible to apply, and contact a project supervisor today.

How to apply

If you want to do a research degree at Portsmouth, we typically expect you to have an upper second-class honours degree or a Master's from an internationally recognised university. 

When you're ready to apply for a research degree with us, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the relevant PhD subject area page

You'll need to have the following supporting documentation ready to complete your application:

  • A personal statement
  • A research proposal (if required) or the project code (if you are applying for a pre-defined project)
  • Proof of your first degree and grades (officially certified and translated copies if not in English)
  • Details of 2 referees or 2 references on official headed paper, one of which should be an academic reference
  • Proof of your English language proficiency (if English is not your first language)
  • An up-to-date copy of your CV

If you're applying for a pre-approved research project, remember to add the project code to your application form. The project code can be found at the top of the project page.

Before you apply

Whatever postgraduate research path you take, you'll first need to identify which of our PhD subject areas is the best fit for your research. We recommend you get in touch with the relevant subject area supervisor ahead of applying. You can discuss your research ideas with them and ensure we have supervisory expertise to support you.

Take a look at our application guidance below. If you have a general enquiry, contact our admissions team.

Postgraduate research application guidance

Ready to begin exploring your PhD options? There are 3 different ways to start the process.

Explore our subject areas

Find out what areas we specialise in, and get in contact with the teams within our subject areas – they're on-hand to talk to you about your plans and can help you find a supervisor. 

Got your own idea for a Phd? 

If you've got your own research idea, or want to discuss your options, start looking for a supervisor whose research interests match yours using our Find a PhD Supervisor tool. Once you've found someone suitable, contact them directly to have a discussion. 

When you're ready to apply, follow the 'Apply now' link on the relevant subject area page

Explore our pre-approved PhD projects

Browse our list of already-approved PhD projects available across most of our subject areas. Contact the relevant supervisors to discuss your interest. Once you're ready to apply, follow the 'Apply now' link at the end of the project page.

We welcome applications from MD candidates in the following research subject areas:

Explore the research we're doing in these areas to see if what we do is the right fit for your ambitions. 

If you've got your own research idea, or you want to discuss your options, start looking for a supervisor whose research interests match yours using our Find a PhD Supervisor tool. Once you've found someone suitable, contact them directly to have a discussion.

When you're ready to apply, follow the 'Apply now' link on the relevant subject area page.

To be considered for a PhD by publication, you'll need to have held an undergraduate or postgraduate degree – awarded either by a UK higher education institute or a recognised non-UK equivalent – for at least 5 years.

Before you apply you'll need: 

  • A CV and the names of two references
  • A title of the proposed PhD
  • A listing of the published work on which the application is based
  • A statement of not more than 1000 words setting out the candidates view of the nature and significance of the work submitted

Apply for your research degree from the relevant subject area page

If your application is successful, you'll need to submit the already-published materials – those that you wish to be considered as part of your PhD by publication award – between 6-12 months after registering with us.

You can apply for our MRes courses directly from their respective course pages – choose the relevant course from the list below to start.

After you apply

Once we've received your application, it usually takes us around 4 weeks to process it and give you an update. To help us review your application as quickly as possible, you should make sure to include all the relevant supporting documentation (including a proposal, if required). It's also helpful if you've discussed your research interests with a potential supervisor beforehand.

After we've reviewed your application, we'll either accept or reject it. If yours is accepted, we'll invite you for an interview next.

When to apply

Our postgraduate research degrees start in February, April or October. We accept applications all year round, but we suggest applying 2–3 months before your chosen start date – so for a February start, you should apply in the preceding November, for an April start, you should apply in the preceding January and for an October start, you should apply by May or June. If you can't apply that far in advance, don't worry – we'll do our best to process later applications too.

Criminal convictions

When you apply to us, we'll ask you to declare if you have any relevant criminal convictions. A 'relevant' conviction is defined as one involving any kind of violence. These include:

  • offences concerning the intention to harm or resulting in actual bodily harm
  • the unlawful supply of controlled drugs or substances where the conviction concerns commercial drug dealing or trafficking
  • offences involving firearms
  • arson
  • offences listed in the Sex Offences Act 2003 or the Terrorism Act 2006

'Spent' convictions are no longer 'relevant' unless you're applying for a teaching, health or social work course or a course involving work with children or vulnerable adults. A conviction becomes 'spent' if you don't re-offend during your rehabilitation period (as defined by The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974).

Assessing applicants with relevant criminal convictions

If you've declared a relevant criminal conviction in your application, we'll contact you to confirm you've declared it correctly. Please don't give us details of the offences when you contact us.

Once we have your confirmation, a panel of our senior staff will consider your application confidentially.