How to Apply

If you are considering applying to the University of Reading to do a postgraduate degree, the best advice is generally to contact the Director of Postgraduate Research Studies in the appropriate department. The following notes are intended to provide a brief outline of the structure of postgraduate studies in the UK and potential sources of funding.

Structure of postgraduate degrees

Broadly, there are two types of postgraduate degree:

(1) Master's degrees have a variety of titles – MA, MA (Res), MRes, MSt, MPhil. At Reading most are called either MA or MA (Res), and they generally involve (often alongside other elements) a course or courses in research training and a dissertation. Most Master's courses last for one year (full-time) and two years (part-time). To see a list of Master's courses, click here or use the menu on the left to go to the web page of your chosen Department.

(2) Doctoral research, leading to the degree of PhD, involves the pursuit of an independent programme of study and the writing of a dissertation of up to 90,000 words. A PhD should normally be completed in 3–4 years of full-time study (4–6 years part-time). It is also possible to undertake an MPhil by research. This involves the writing of a dissertation of up to 60,000 words, completed in 2–3 Years of full-time study (3–6 years part-time).

For many students a Master's degree is an end in itself. In the arts and humanities, however, it is now usual for students who wish to undertake research in their chosen subject first to take a Master's degree. Indeed, the completion of a Master's degree is generally regarded as an essential precondition for registration on a doctoral programme. Students from abroad will normally be expected to have obtained a qualification equivalent to a UK Master's degree in order to register for a doctoral programme. In some cases relevant experience of an academic or professional nature may be treated as equivalent to a Master's qualification.

If you are interested in undertaking doctoral research at Reading, you should contact the Director of Postgraduate Studies in your chosen department. Alternatively, if you already have a clear idea of the subject of your research and have identified a potential supervisor, you may wish to contact that person direct. If you have not yet begun a Master's degree and you know that you ultimately wish to go on to do doctoral research, it may be a good idea to talk to the Director of Postgraduate Studies to seek advice about the most suitable Master's course to take as preparation for your PhD.

Funding for postgraduate research

Funding opportunities for postgraduate research are limited and highly competitive.

Master's programmes

The AHRC offers funding for Master's programme through its 'Research Preparation Master's Competition' and its 'Professional Preparation Master's Competition'. An award in either of these competitions covers the cost of fees (for UK and EU students) plus a stipend to cover living costs (UK students only).

MPhil by research

There are no sources of funding for students pursuing the degree of MPhil by research.

Doctoral programmes

Click here for details of Fees and Funding for PhD students.

Most students undertaking doctoral research devise their own research project in consultation with their supervisor/prospective supervisor. Recently, however, a number of studentships have been funded by the AHRC as part of AHRC-funded Research Projects or as part of its Collaborative Doctoral Awards scheme. These studentships generally involve pursuing doctoral research on a specific topic. They are often advertised on Studentships at Reading will also be advertised on the home page of the GSAH website.


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Contact us:

Graduate School in Arts and Humanities
Old Whiteknights House
University of Reading
Tel: +44(0)118 378 5063
Fax: +44(0)118 378 4753

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