Skip to main content

Studying at PhD Level – University of Reading

Show access keys
  • Join an interdisciplinary community

    We have expertise in the design, construction, operation and use of buildings and infrastructure

Studying at PhD Level

We offer flexible modes of study designed to fit with your needs. Our PhD is available for study on a full-time basis over three years and part-time over four to six years. Both full-time and part-time variants are available for study in Reading or at a distance.


Modes of study

Both full-time and part-time variants are available for study in Reading, as well as PhD by Distance.

PhD by Distance students spend the majority of their time at another location and normally have a supervisor/mentor at that location. There must be an academic or financial rationale for this status to be granted and the University assesses each application on an individual basis.

Additionally, some of our PhD students are involved in interdisciplinary projects or projects with an external partner. In these cases they may be supported by a supervisor from outside the University, and interact with a wider range of staff.


We offer excellent facilities that reflect our academic reputation, quality and ambition.

You will have access to the latest digital technology and software, including building information modelling (BIM), building energy and urban microclimate simulations, and 3D laser scanning; as well as access to our immersive virtual reality "CAVE" that enables you to interact with 3D digitised environments. You will be encouraged to explore, experiment with and learn from these innovative technologies. You will also have access to a dedicated resource room and a computer suite.

As a postgraduate research student at Reading you will have access to the Graduate School. At the heart of this is Old Whiteknights House, a dedicated facility that provides space for doctoral researchers to work and network with others. Old Whiteknights House is a beautiful Victorian building that has been carefully modernised to provide a range of excellent resources and amenities. It also houses a number of support staff who deal exclusively with doctoral research matters and administration at Reading.


During your degree, we will provide you with training in research skills that aims to prepare you for your studies and future career. There is an advanced programme of seminars and workshops run by the School, specifically designed to support you, and you will also have the opportunity to participate in the Graduate Skills Development Programme run by the Faculty of Science and Life Sciences.

The Graduate School's Reading Researcher Development Programme (RRDP) offers a rich array of training sessions and workshops that have been especially designed to help you gain the additional skills that will enable you to carry out your research professionally and effectively. The RRDP is delivered primarily using the expertise of academic and specialist staff within the University and complements any subject-specific training that we provide. The RRDP includes training sessions on research methods, writing academic papers, getting published, public engagement and career planning.

In addition to the RRDP, doctoral researchers will also have the chance to access the following development opportunities:

  • Preparing to teach – A programme focused on the skills needed for teaching and learning activities.
  • Developing your potential as a leader – This leadership programme is jointly run with the triple accredited Henley Business School.
  • Academic English Programme – Supporting international students to develop their academic English skills with a range of classes and services.
  • PhD Plus – A scheme specifically for international doctoral researchers who are lecturers in their home country.


Throughout your studies you will have opportunities to present your work and network with other researchers. You will be required to present your work to your advisory committee for direction and assistance at regular intervals, while our lunchtime seminar series and annual PhD conference, also provides opportunities to present and receive feedback on your work.

Dedicated support service

To ensure that research and scholarship continue to stretch the boundaries of knowledge generation and transformation, the relationship between you and your supervisors is crucial. Our academics are very engaged with students and we foster a culture and environment which encourages the co-creation of learning and knowledge between the student and their supervisors.

Every care is taken to provide supervision and guidance for each research student and you will be supported by two academic supervisors, as well as by independent assessors. Our supervision is designed to ensure you receive a wealth of experience and assistance to avoid potential challenges. Our staff are approachable and on hand to advise and assist you throughout your time at University.

You will have also have access to the Doctoral Research Office. Located in the Graduate School, the Doctoral Research Office provides advice and support for current and prospective students. It is a key point of contact for any doctoral researchers who have questions relating to registration, student status, immigration, studentships, University policy and procedures.

Doctoral research community

As a research student with us you will become an important part of our active student body and academic community. Whether you are registered as a full-time or part-time student, working at the University or away from the University, there are plenty of opportunities for you to interact with your fellow PhD students. Seminars and conferences provide opportunities to network with other PhD students and members of our academic staff, discuss your ongoing research and to socialise. Through our dynamic community you will make valuable contacts and create lasting friendships, while becoming an important and integral member of the School.

In addition to offering training and support to doctoral researchers, the Graduate School co-ordinates a range of activities that bring students together from across the University. These include the annual Doctoral Research Conference, an event that showcases the variety and excellence of postgraduate research taking place at Reading. The conference features a number of competitions and presentations including the PhD researcher of the year award.

Another event that celebrates academic excellence is the Graduate School's annual public lecture – the Fairbrother Lecture – delivered by a current or recent postgraduate research student. This is a fantastic opportunity for a wider audience to hear about high quality doctoral research taking place at Reading.

Graduate School homepage regularly promotes the achievements and success of doctoral researchers through the Graduate School Bulletin.

Fees and funding

You can find out more about fees for University of Reading PhD programmes by clicking on the link below.

Tuition fees for new postgraduate research students

The main sources of financial support for PhD study in the School of the Built Environment are:

International (non-EU) students

The University offers a number of Studentships for international applicants each year in addition to providing information about other potential funding opportunities available for international students.

International students are strongly encouraged to explore the funding opportunities offered from within their home country in order to maximise their chances of securing funding.

Alumni fee discounts

If you have already studied at the University of Reading you are entitled to receive a 10% discount on the Tuition Fees of the first year of your PhD (up to a maximum of £1,000).

Staying at Reading for postgraduate study.

English Language Support

The University's International Study and Language Institute can help you develop your academic English skills and offers a range of courses and programmes to suit your specific needs, if English is not your first language.

English Writing and Language Practice programme

This six-week programme has been specifically designed for postgraduate researchers. It is supplemented by one-to-one advisory sessions, helping you to apply what you have learned to your thesis writing.

Academic English Programme

The Academic English Programme (AEP) features courses aimed at building your confidence in spoken language situations, developing your accuracy in the English language and improving your writing skills.

Life at Reading

The University of Reading offers the peace and tranquillity of an award-winning parkland campus, just a short bus ride from a vibrant town centre. Our thriving community is made up of students from around the world, and our range of clubs and societies offer many opportunities to meet like-minded people.

How to apply and entry requirements

1. Check our entry requirements

To be accepted on our PhD programme, you will need a 2:1 Bachelor's degree, or equivalent.

If you are from outside of the UK, you will also need an IELTS score of 6.5, or above, with at least 5.5 in the four sub-sections, or equivalent.

For more information on entry requirements, visit our Graduate School website.

2. Select a topic

You should first determine whether your proposed project is suitable for study at PhD level. The project must also be feasible within the resources and time frame available to you; it should also address a perceived 'gap' in the literature and, most importantly, be of interest to you.

To study at the University of Reading your proposed PhD should relate to the research interests of a member of staff in the School of the Built Environment. Please contact any member of staff via email if you are interested in studying for a PhD/MPhil with them. You can also apply for advertised PhD projects. Take a look at our PhD opportunities.

3. Identify a Supervisor

Please contact the School's Director of Postgraduate Research Studies by emailing or calling +44 (0) 118 378 8586.

You should also get in touch with the potential supervisor if you have someone specific in mind, in addition to contacting the Director of Postgraduate Research Studies.

4. Make an application

Once you have identified a research area of interest with a potential supervisor, please apply using the PhD and professional doctorate online application programme. This allows you to complete the necessary information and attach copies of relevant documents, including the details of two appropriate referees. If you are not applying for an advertised project, it is essential that you submit a proposal: proposals should be around 4000 words and should cover your study rationale, literature review, objectives, work programme and references.

Although you will be working with a specific School or supervisor, all PhD applications have to be made centrally. We will acknowledge your application and then pass it on to the appropriate School.

Although most new students join the PhD programme in October, it is possible to start your studies at any point during the academic year.


We use Javascript to improve your experience on, but it looks like yours is turned off. Everything will still work, but it is even more beautiful with Javascript in action. Find out more about why and how to turn it back on here.
We also use cookies to improve your time on the site, for more information please see our cookie policy.

Back to top