Step 1 – Get to know our research in your chosen field
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.
- If you have a topic specifically in mind you can use our research finder. Here you will see all our research centres, groups and areas in your chosen field, as well as potential supervisors to work with, or previous projects in similar areas. Make sure you try a variety of different keywords to be sure you have explored all we have to offer in your area in as much detail as possible.
- If you aren't quite sure of your topic, why not explore our schools and departments and look at their individual research, or review our research centres and institutes. You can also have a look through our previous research impact case studies and see for yourself how our research is changing the way we think about the world.
- Alternatively, if you know who you would like to supervise your research, you can search directly for their name in our research finder tool too.
Step 2 – Explore your options
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:
- Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
- Integrated Doctor of Philosophy (Integrated PhD)
- Master of Philosophy (MPhil)
- Master of Arts by Dissertation (MAD)
- Master of Science by Dissertation (MSD)
- Professional Doctorate
Subject to availability, we will also have a range of postgraduate research opportunities available to you such as paid studentships or Doctoral Training Partnerships. There is plenty to choose from.
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. Many of our research degrees also allow you to start in either January or April, as well as October, so consider when you would like to start your degree before you apply.
Step 3 – Review the course, check your eligibility, and the fees and funding associated with it
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.
Step 4 – Decide what you want to study and find a supervisor
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.
Please be aware that most of our departments do prefer you to get in touch with a potential supervisor before applying to Essex. However, our Department of Economics does not require this, so if you are interested in an economics research degree you do not need to contact a potential supervisor before applying, but you should still prepare a research proposal.
Step 5 – Prepare your research proposal and get in touch 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.
Guidance on writing your research proposal
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:
- a working title and key words
- a summary of the aims and objectives of your research
- an outline of the ways in which you will meet these aims and objectives
- an overview of the expected outcomes and the original contribution your research will make to existing bodies of knowledge
- a brief statement on how your research interests tie in with those found in the department, school or centre
Step 6 – Get your documents in order and make an application
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.
You will need the following documents
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 a reference when you make your application, if we need one you will be able to provide this at a later stage.
When you are ready you can make your application online.