There's a lot to think about before starting to make an application for a research degree. For example, you must first be sure you know what you want to study and who with.
This page will take you through all the necessary steps you need to take as well as the documents you’ll need along the way.
If you are looking for information on how to apply for a postgraduate taught course (such as a Masters) please visit our dedicated Masters application page.
Thinking of studying at Essex?
We know you must have a lot of questions about how to get started with your application. You might already have a thesis title, or a supervisor in mind to work with you; or you might not have any of these at all. Explore our step-by-step advice below, and give yourself the best possible chance to start your journey with us.
If after reading everything you are confident you are ready, you can make your application right away.
At Essex, we are passionate about our research and focus our studies in a variety of different fields. Before deciding to study with us, it's best to get to know what we specialise in, and explore what we have on offer. You can do this in several ways.
Now you have a better idea about what Essex has to offer, it's best to read through our research study web pages and explore the options available to you. Depending on the course and your thesis topic, we offer a variety of different research awards such as:
We have lots of courses available, so feel free to explore on the research tab of our subject pages to find one that works for you.
Sometimes, the chosen topic you wish to study might cross over several different courses. Don't worry about this just yet. Just keep in mind the topic you want to study and try to form a thesis title. You'll need this to make your application. As you discuss your thesis with your chosen supervisor (see Step 4) they will help you choose the right course for you.
On each of our course pages we provide details of the entry requirements you need, as well as what the fees are. We also have more information on fees and funding within this section of our website as well.
By now you should have a good idea of what you want to study, and the related courses that match. You then need to find a suitable supervisor. Hopefully by this Step, you would have explored our research and know which fields of study our experts supervise. But if not, you can use our research finder tool to search for the field you're interested in and see which supervisors are available. Each of our supervisors will list what areas they are open to supervision in on their profiles within their 'Research and Professional Activities' section.
Once you know who you want to study with, it's time to get your research proposal in order before discussing with your potential supervisor.
Your research proposal is one of the most important parts of your application, and it's one of the main things we use to differentiate you with other applicants. During your studies you will conduct and present the results of your original investigations and research. Therefore, you need to ensure that your research topic will engage and excite you enough for three or four years. Research your topic by reading around your subject area and start to think what you might like to include in your research proposal.
Whilst your research proposal will no doubt go through a few drafts before it is finally submitted to us, it is important that it is clear, concise and well written before you make contact with your potential supervisor. Once you are happy, you can contact them and share your idea. You should also send them an accompanying Curriculum Vitae (CV) as well, as this will help them learn more about you. They may be able to help you refine your proposal further before you submit your final application.
This is your chance to explain your personal and academic goals in undertaking an extended piece of research, and reﬂect on the contribution you will make to the development of new knowledge, ideas and solutions. You should comment on how your research interests fit with the academic focus and expertise at Essex.
Your research proposal needs to demonstrate that you have, or are able to develop, the competencies and skills needed to complete your project, within the time and resources available. The quality of your writing is important and a good research proposal may be rejected if it is poorly expressed or badly presented.
Many of our departments, schools and centres offer more detailed guidance on preparing a research proposal on their web pages. If you are applying for funding, ensure your proposal fulfils the requirements of your preferred funding body.
Your research proposal should include:
When you apply to study with us, you'll need to provide a number of supporting documents – we can't process your application until we have these. Some of these documents you will have to be uploaded with your application, others you may be able to provide at a later date.
All teaching at Essex is in English. If English is not your first language you'll need to demonstrate that you meet all the University's English language requirements before you can study with us.
We accept a wide range of proofs of proficiency. These include IELTS, TOEFL, Pearson and other tests (tests must normally be less than three years old at the time of admission) and proof of undergraduate or postgraduate study in English (qualifications must normally be less than five years old at the time of admission). The English language requirement for your course is listed on each of our course's entry requirements. This is expressed as an IELTS level, but we will accept other equivalent proofs of proficiency.
You can see more detailed information about English language requirements here (.pdf)
Official transcript(s), in English or a certified translation of your academic results to date, showing marks or grades, must be provided at the time you make your application. (Transcripts are not required from current or previous University of Essex students).
Curriculum Vitae (CV)
Also known as a resume in some countries, a CV is required for some research degrees at the time of application
Your research proposal
A personal statement
For applicants that require a student visa to study in the UK, a personal statement is required. Your personal statement should be no more than 500 words, and should refer specifically to your reasons for wishing to study at the University of Essex, and why you have chosen your area of study.
Don't worry if you can't provide your reference when you make your application, as if we make you an offer you will be able to provide this at a later stage.
For research degrees we will require one academic reference during the application process. If you are currently studying at Essex, or have just completed a course with us, and are now progressing to further study in the same or next academic year, you won’t need to provide a reference.
Academic references should be recent and verifiable. You will have an opportunity to provide contact details for a referee when you complete the application, and we will then contact them on your behalf. Alternatively, if you provide the reference, this should be signed and dated by the referee and on official institution paper. Email references are also generally accepted when provided directly to the University by the referee. Alternatively, we can normally accept an appropriate reference from an employer. This will need to be provided directly from the referee’s official work email address, or be on company headed paper, signed and recently dated.
When you are ready you can make your application online.
Our deadlines for applications for October 2020 entry are:
We recommend that you apply as soon as you are able to. You should also take into account any deadlines for funding applications, such as scholarships.
Visit our page on UK student visas if you are not sure whether you need one to study in the UK.
|Start date||Application deadline|
|October 2020||28 August 2020|
|January 2021||27 November 2020|
|April 2021||12 March 2021|
|October 2021||17 September 2021|
|Start date||Application deadline|
|October 2020||14 August 2020|
|January 2021||13 November 2020|
|April 2021||26 February 2021|
|October 2021||13 August 2021|
We aim to respond to postgraduate research applications within four weeks once we have received all the relevant documents from you.
When you create your application, you will be issued with an application number (PG number), which is your unique reference number with us.
You will also be able to create an account on our myEssex for Applicants portal to manage your application.
If we offer you a place, we'll send you our decision via email. You will be able to view and download your offer letter from your myEssex portal within 24 hours of a decision being made. We will send you an email with instructions on this. You should use myEssex to accept your place and to keep us informed of any changes to your contact details by updating them online. We will ask you to reply to your offer within 30 days.
Before starting your course you need to consider how you are going to fund your studies. If you will need to hold an offer for a course to become eligible for funding, you’ll need to allow time to make your course application and get an offer in place before the funding deadline.
The Graduate Admissions Feedback Policy provides information on how to request feedback if your postgraduate application is unsuccessful. Feedback is not available for all postgraduate courses, and this is explained within the policy.
Our innovative research training scheme, known as Proficio, awards each of our research students up to £2,500 which can be put towards training courses and attending conferences. This funding will enable you to curate your own tailored training plan, developing the skills and knowledge you need to create an outstanding piece of research.