Apply for postgraduate study

Application process

Advice for PhD applicants

The following guidelines are designed to help you submit a successful research degree application to Exeter. The information also applies to Masters by Research and MPhil applicants. We also strongly recommend that you view our online resource Considering a UK PhD: Your Next Steps, which not only provides details of what it is like to study for a UK PhD, but what the PhD experience is like at Exeter.

1. Pinpoint your research area

As part of your application you will need to construct a research proposal. This will need to be detailed enough to show that you’ve selected a well-defined research question.

2. Investigate whether this research area is available at Exeter

You will only be able to pursue a research degree with us if we can offer appropriate supervision. Your supervisors will provide the necessary support and guidance and so need to have expertise in your chosen research field. You may join a research team or work with specific members of staff.

In order to identify whether your research specialism is offered, use the research degrees index to find your particular topic of interest. Research opportunities and specialisms are outlined within each of the subject areas in this site.

3. Construct and refine your research proposal

In addition to references you will also need to supply a research proposal with your application (see supporting documents required for further details). The research proposal should demonstrate to your potential supervisors that you have identified a piece of research which is well thought out and achievable. Every research proposal will be different dependent on your chosen topic, subject area and type of research degree, but there are some common guidelines.

The perfect research proposal:

  • follows any guidance on the department’s webpages
  • is refined a number of times before submission
  • contains a strong sense of project direction
  • has clear objectives, rationale and methodology
  • indicates how the anticipated findings will be novel
  • demonstrates planned time scales and project management skills
  • identifies potential challenges and seeks ways to overcome these

Further information on how to write a successful research proposal can be found on our Guide to writing a research proposal (pdf).

4. Apply online

The simplest and quickest way to apply is online. See our apply online pages for details.