PhD in UK

A PhD degree is the highest academic achievement one can attain in UK. By holding such a degree you’re able to demonstrate an outstanding level of expertise in a particular study field which does not only make you very employable but establishes the basis for a successful career as a scientist.

Nowadays everyone awards PhDs, but there are only a few places where the quality of education and opportunities for academic improvements are unmatched.

Your PhD in UK will grant you countless opportunities to carry on important research activities, and will also involve in your real-life experiences, workshops and science conferences where you can share the results of your work while gaining worth experience from other scientists.

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UK universities have a long and rich tradition of producing some of the brightest minds the world has ever witnessed. If you want to be the next one you must first know what stages you need to go through to apply for a PhD in UK. Here we’ve covered this topic into details.

Find a PhD course

First you must find an available PhD course in UK. There are many of them so it may require you to do a research ahead. Unfortunately, there is no database of all available PhD courses in the UK so you have to rely on your research abilities. In our digital era, this won’t pose any problem at all. You can find information related to your inquiry at any time on the Internet. Take your time and find one suitable course.

Note that, except universities, there are also research-based institutions and companies who offer PhD degrees in UK to prospective candidates. If you have already been studying in the UK for a master’s degree or you were engaged in a relevant work experience for several years carrying out this research will surely be easier.

If you have attended a course at a UK university and you would like to move up to a PhD degree you can ask them personally or read their online brochure for types of PhD courses they offer.

Quite often there are no such research projects on offer, but instead, the university will require you to present an idea before a panel of experts, estimates if it’s worthy. In this situation you must write a detailed description of your idea, your final goal and research activities you’re going to conduct to reach that goal.

Even if the university already has a scheme of PhD programs you should always consider speaking about your ideas to the supervisors and get their opinion over your ideas.

You may be required to be very specific when you present your ideas. It may happen that your supervisor may ask for a CV of your and a detailed plan how do you think to carry your research. On top of that, he/she may want you to have a plan about how do you plan to fund your PhD studies.

Except for universities, PhD courses in the UK are also offered from other research-based institutions according to their needs. Universities maintain strong links with these institutions and they can help you with finding such a PhD program.

Requirements for a PhD degree in UK

Requirements for enrolling a PhD degree in the UK change variously depending on the university or the relevant institution you’ve chosen to apply. For that we highly recommend you contact the PhD course provider

The following documents are mostly required to apply for a PhD degree in UK

  • A recognized master’s degree
  • English Language Proficiency
  • Relevant work experience

Note that a master’s degree is not always conditional and you can apply for a PhD course even with a Bachelor degree. The minimum education required at PhD courses in UK is an upper second-class honours.

In UK there are few undergraduate fast-track programs (otherwise known as sandwich courses) where you get a Bachelor and a Master degree at the same time, enabling you to move directly to the doctorate level. If you hold such degree you’re eligible to apply for a PhD course.

Being the highest academic level, PhD degree courses in UK require you have an excellent proficiency in English. Despite there’s not a typical accepted score at all universities and PhD course providers, most of them scope for candidates who have a score of 6.0 at the minimum in IELTS or 100 in TOEFL.

Experience can also be your ticket to land a PhD course in UK. If it properly meets the course requirements a commission of experts assesses your work experience as an assurance of your promising academic results and can give you a place in their PhD class.

How to apply

Applications are mostly done online. After you have collected all documents required, scan them in PDF or JPG format and upload on the university’s website or of the specific institution which is offering the PhD course.

UK universities are highly competitive and collect a large number of PhD applications, and commissions have to run a strict and detailed evaluation process to select the appropriate candidates. So be patient as the processing of your application normally takes time.

Application deadlines

Application deadlines for PhD courses in UK change from university to university and even from course to course. Most of the time there are no typical application deadlines for PhD degrees in UK, and universities may admit applications throughout the entire year as long as you have found a mentor and an available PhD course. This is a common rule, especially if you’re willing to get your degree by research.

To avoid any mistake, we suggest you always ask your university or the specific institution where you’re going to attend your PhD course in UK.


Tuition fees for PhD courses in UK change depending on several factors

  • Your nationality
  • The type of your course (Part-time or Full-time)
  • The length of the course
  • Whether your course is classroom-based or research-based

Home students are subject to lower fees compared to their non-EU international peers. PhD fees in UK for home students may vary somewhere between £2,000 and £5,000 but since universities and other recognized PhD providers are in charge to set up their fee schemes independently then there may be some of them which may charge different fees. International fees, on the other hand, start somewhere around £14,000 and might reach £35,000.

If your course is Full-time there will certainly be higher fees applied compared to part-time PhD courses. However, taking into consideration the fact that part-time PhD courses in UK last longer, in the end, the total cost is equivalent to a certain degree.

The length of your PhD course is another factor which counts in your fees.  Commonly, a PhD degree course in UK lasts from 3 to 4 years of full-time studies or up to 6 six years if it’s a part-time course, thus the total fee cost may change due to it.

Naturally, research-based PhD courses came at higher costs as there are many research activities which require few additional spendings to be completed and very often you will have to cover those spendings all by yourself.

Student Visa

If your country of origin is not a member of EU or EEA and Switzerland, then you’re entitled as an international student in UK and therefore you need a student visa to be allowed to study in UK. Student visa in UK is regarded as Tier 4 visa.

To be approved a student visa as an international PhD candidate in UK you need to submit the following documents:

  • The admission letter from a recognized education provider
  • Proof English Proficiency
  • Proof of Financial Means to fund the cost of your stay in UK

There’s a fixed fee attached to your student visa application in UK. Currently, it costs you £348 to apply for your student visa from outside the UK. Also, you will have to pay the health care surcharge.

For more detailed information, read our article about student visa for international students in the UK.

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