Postgraduate Research

Postgraduate research application information

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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

  • English Language
    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)

  • Transcripts
    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. 

  • References
    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.


Step 7 – Time to apply 

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Apply online

Applying to Essex is simple and straightforward. We'll give you all the important information you need to make your application. Our online application form takes about 20 minutes to complete.

Apply now

Application deadlines

Applications for October 2024, January 2025 and April 2025 are open.

We recommend that you apply as soon as you are able to as courses may occasionally close early. This webpage will be updated with any changes to application deadlines. You should also take into account any deadlines for funding applications, such as scholarships.

Please be aware that not all of our postgraduate research degrees offer a January or April start-date. 

Start month Visa requirements  Application deadline
October 2024  Student visa required   12.00pm (BST) on 1 July 2024
October 2024  Student visa not required  12.00pm (BST) on 2 September 2024 
January 2025  Student visa required  12.00pm (GMT) on 11 November 2024 
January 2025  Student visa not required  12.00pm (GMT) on 15 December 2024 
April 2025  Student visa required   12.00pm (GMT) on 10 February 2025 
April 2025   Student visa not required  12.00pm (GMT) on 10 March 2025 

Visit our page on student visas if you are not sure whether you need one to study in the UK.

After you apply

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.

Accepting your offer

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.

Other things to consider

Transferring to Essex from another university

If you are currently studying at another university, either in the UK or elsewhere, and it’s not working out, you may be considering transferring to the University of Essex.

We welcome enquiries and applications to transfer to Essex and recommend that you read the guidance below before making an application.

Before applying for transferred entry

Transferring to another institution is a big decision, and can take time to complete. We would recommend speaking with someone at your current university (such as your personal tutor, supervisor or academic support services) who can provide advice and guidance on the possibility of transferring.

You should also discuss with them the impact that a transfer might have on your funding or visa arrangements.

If you decide that you wish to transfer to the University of Essex, we recommend emailing our Postgraduate Admissions Office before making an application. 

How to apply for transferred entry

Please email stating that you intend to transfer from your existing institution, noting your course choice and preferred point of entry at Essex. You should then make your application for the course via the University’s Postgraduate Application Form and attach the following supporting documentation:

  • CV
  • Personal statement (which might include your reasons for moving institution)
  • Research proposal
  • A reference (if possible, from your current supervisor)
  • Undergraduate and postgraduate transcripts

Upon receipt of your application, the relevant department, school or centre at Essex may invite you to interview and will assess your suitability for transfer to the University of Essex. The following information may also be requested for consideration as part of your application:

  • Formal release of all Intellectual Property (IP) from your original institution
  •  Data use and/or ownership information
  •  Ethical approval information
  • Studentship/scholarship funding transfer arrangements

Students requiring a student visa

If you require a student visa to study in the UK, the above information will apply. However, in addition, we will consider whether you would be able to meet all Home Office requirements when determining whether or not you are eligible to transfer to the University of Essex. Visit our immigration pages to find out more information.

Transferring credit for individual modules

If you wish to transfer credits for individual modules from your current or previous university study or work experience, you should discuss the matter with the relevant Admissions Office in the first instance. Your request may be considered under the University’s Accreditation of Prior (Experiential) Learning (AP(E)L) procedure. This procedure may need to be completed in addition to submitting a standard application to transfer to the University of Essex.

Please refer to the University’s AP(E)L policy and procedure for further information.

Extenuating circumstances

We understand that sometimes circumstances beyond your control may have impacted your studies. The Admissions Selector may take into account any extenuating circumstances which have affected an individual applicant when deciding whether an offer should be made, or if an applicant’s place may still be confirmed where degree results miss the entry requirement. 

We will automatically consider information provided within the personal statement and reference about any extenuating circumstances which may have affected your academic performance. If you wish to inform us of any extenuating circumstances not disclosed in your application, such as illness or any other serious difficulties during study, these should be emailed to or the Postgraduate Admissions Adviser named on your offer letter. You should inform us of any extenuating circumstances as soon as possible. If further information or evidence is required regarding any extenuating circumstances before a decision can be made, we will contact you. Any extenuating circumstances provided should only be those not already considered by an examination board prior to your results being issued.

Disability and health

Applications are considered against the same academic criteria as those from other candidates. If you are disabled, state this on your application form so that we can give early consideration to any support requirements you may have. Please contact Student Support if you would like to discuss this in more detail before you apply.

If you require an application form in an alternative format please call our Postraduate Admissions Office on +44 (0) 1206 876587 to discuss your needs.

Accreditation of Prior (Experiential) Learning (AP(E)L)

Policy and procedure for the Accreditation of Prior (Experiential) Learning (AP(E)L)


This procedure applies to former postgraduate students who are requesting permission to be readmitted to study, having previously left voluntarily or having been required to withdraw from the University.

It does not apply to:

  • students who want to be admitted to study at a higher level after having successfully completed an award at a lower level
  • students who have successfully completed a degree and want to start another degree in a different subject area

Readmission policy

It is our policy, and part of national HESA rules, that you cannot normally be considered for readmission to the same programme from which you have been required to withdraw, or a similar programme which contained modules you have already taken, for a minimum of two years after you left (with the exception of students who have been required to withdraw for debt).

You can be considered for immediate readmission to a completely different area of study if there are good reasons to indicate that you chose the wrong course originally and there was evidence that you could be successful in a new area. This is subject to the University’s rules relating to the maximum period of study.

How to apply

In order for your request to be considered, please complete the application form for former postgraduate students.

Supporting documents

Your personal statement should cover the reasons why you wish to be readmitted; what you have been doing since leaving Essex; and why you believe you will be successful if you return to your studies at Essex. If you have studied elsewhere since leaving Essex, please give full details of the course(s) you studied and the dates of your study.

If you are a recent Essex student and you have not studied elsewhere since leaving Essex, then you will not need to supply a new reference with your application.


The deadlines for the submission of a readmission request are set well in advance of the relevant course start date, as the process can be a lengthy one, especially if a student requires a student visa to study in the UK.

Start date Application deadline
January 2024 30 October 2023
October 2024 15 July 2024


Your application will be considered by several departments within the University, so please don’t be concerned if you don’t hear from us immediately. Depending on your case, it may be a number of weeks before you receive a decision. If you have any concerns about the progress of your readmission request please contact:

Complaints against decisions

There is no right of appeal against selection decisions made by the University, including decisions about readmission. Complaints will normally be considered to be valid only where there is evidence of procedural irregularity. In the event that you are dissatisfied with the University’s readmissions process, you can submit a complaint in line with the complaints policy for applicants (.pdf).

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Research training scheme

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.

Postgraduate admissions team
Get in touch
Graduate Admissions Team If you have any questions about your application, please email our friendly admissions team.