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The following information outlines the entry requirements for PhD study in the School of the Built Environment, and offers guidance for writing a PhD application. This includes PhDs in Construction Management and Engineering, Energy and Environmental Engineering, and Architecture.

Please read and follow this guidance, as applications that do not meet these requirements may be delayed or rejected. If you require further information, then please contact the admissions team via email at

Criteria for the award of research degrees 

It is important to reflect on these criteria when considering applying for one of our PhD programmes.

At the end of your PhD, you are expected to demonstrate each of the following:

  • the creation and interpretation of new knowledge, through original research or other advanced scholarship, of a quality to satisfy peer review to extend the forefront of your discipline, and to merit publication in an appropriate form
  • a systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge which is at the forefront of the discipline or area of professional practice
  • the general ability to conceptualise, design and implement a project for the generation of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of the discipline, and the ability to adjust the project design in the light of unforeseen problems
  • a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to your own research or advanced scholarship. 

1. Check our entry requirements

To be accepted on our PhD programmes, you will need a Bachelor's degree of at least 2:1 level, or equivalent.

If you are from outside 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.

2. Select a topic

You should first determine whether your proposed project is suitable for study at PhD level. The project must 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 a PhD with us, your proposed project 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 or MPhil with them.

To find out more about our areas of expertise, please view our Research page and our staff profiles in the School of Construction Management and Engineering or the School of Architecture.

You can also apply for advertised PhD projects. Take a look at our PhD opportunities.

3. Writing a research proposal

Unless you are applying for an advertised project, then your application should include a research proposal. Please first read the general guidance on research proposals.

In addition, the School of the Built Environment has specific requirements about the structure of your proposal that are detailed here. Please ensure that your proposal meets with these specific requirements, or your application may be delayed or rejected.

Your research proposal should adhere to the following structure and word limits:

  • Research question [no more than 50 words]
    (a short statement that outlines the question your research aims to answer)
  • Objectives [no more than 200 words]
    (about four to six objectives that describe the key elements of the research)
  • Background [no more than 200 words]
    (why is the proposed research of interest, and why does the research matter?)
  • Literature review and academic context [no more than 500 words]
    (how does the proposed research fit into existing academic literature?)
  • Methodology [no more than 200 words]
    (your research design: how will you go about achieving your research objectives and why is this approach appropriate?)
  • Expected academic contribution and outcomes [no more than 200 words]
    (what is your expected original contribution to knowledge?)
  • Timetable
    (a plan that demonstrates the work is achievable within three years of full-time study)
  • References

4. Identify a supervisor

You may contact a potential supervisor if you have someone specific in mind. If you would like assistance with identifying a potential supervisor, please contact the School's Director of Postgraduate Research Studies by emailing or calling +44 (0) 118 378 5219.

You can find out more about areas we supervise on our staff profiles in the School of Construction Management and Engineering and the School of Architecture

5. 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 research proposal. You should also include a personal statement of no more than 500 words, that explains your motivation and suitability for our PhD programme.

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

Assessment of applications

Once we receive your application, it will first be reviewed by the School's Director of Postgraduate Research Studies.

If the application complies with the guidelines, is of the required standard, and fits within the research profile of our School, it will be sent to one or more potential supervisors for a more detailed review.

If a potential supervisor wishes to move forward with your application, then you will be invited to an online interview (usually using Skype or Teams), to further discuss your proposed research and fit for our PhD programme.

Successful applicants will then receive a formal offer of a place.

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