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Postgraduate Study - PhD and Research Degrees

Degree durations

Full-time degree durations

Full-time programme Maximum number of years
PhD 4
PhD by Publication 2
MPhil 3
MPhil by Publication


MbyRes 2
MbyRes by Publication 1
MD 3
MS 3
EngD 4
DClinPsy 3
DForenPsy  3

The time-periods above are the maximum periods of study for the specified research degrees. Information on part-time study can be found below.

Part-time study

Part-time programme lengths are calculated as a pro-rata equivalent of the full-time period of study.

You may apply for part-time registration at 0.5 full-time equivalent (fte), 0.6 fte, 0.7 fte, 0.8 fte or 0.9 fte, however, the nature of some programmes may limit the part-time registration options available, so it is advisable to enquire before application.

Programme lengths are calculated on the basis of a 37.5 hour working week for full-time students, and the pro-rata equivalent for part-time students.

International students

The majority of our international PhD students who require a Student visa study with us on a full-time basis. In these cases, we include programme dates of four years and six months on the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). If you complete your studies sooner than the end date on your CAS, we are required to report this to UK Visas and Immigration. Your visa will then be curtailed in line with your actual completion date.

Studying full-time enables you to work alongside your studies (as long as you are meeting Government and university criteria). It also may be possible for your dependants to join you.

As we are a highly compliant UK university, we are also able to offer part-time study for PhD international students on a Student visa. The part-time route, however, does not allow for work alongside study and dependants are not allowed to live in the UK with you.

What if I want to stay in the UK after my doctoral or PhD degree?

Research students holding a valid Student or Tier 4 visa, who have completed a degree at a UK Higher Education Provider, are able to apply for a Graduate visa that allows them to remain in the UK and work, or look for work, for 3 years after they have completed a PhD.

For full details of the Graduate route visit Graduate Route | International Student Support | University of Exeter.

Find out more about visas on our International student support webpages.

Important information

If you receive funding for your studies, your funder may fund a period of study that is shorter than the maximum period set by the University. You should plan to submit your thesis by your funding end date.

If you are funding your own studies, your department may require you to submit your thesis for examination within a shorter time-period, normally in line with the lengths of funding commonly available to students in the discipline.

Although you will be responsible for meeting the expected thesis submission deadline, you will receive support in planning and managing your project through your supervisory team.

While the maximum period of study relates to the final deadline for submission, you should also bear in mind that after you submit your thesis you will need to allow time to prepare for examination of your thesis, and to complete any further work you may need to undertake as a result of your examination.