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Our part-time doctoral students make up an important part of our research community. At Reading, we recognise the distinct nature of studying part time, and we have a wealth of experience and resources to help you succeed.

If you are thinking of studying for a doctorate part time, you will be in good company. A quarter of our doctoral students either complete their entire programme on a part-time basis or switch after starting full time. You may find that studying part time suits you because:

  • you have work commitments
  • you have caring responsibilities
  • it's preferable for financial reasons.


“As a part-time, mature student, there are times when I work full time on my thesis, while at other times it gets far less input due to my other commitments. Neither myself, my supervisor nor my postgraduate director have ever considered this a problem and this relaxed, flexible attitude has helped immensely and kept me unstressed and on track.”

Hilary Matthews

PhD in History

Time frames for part-time study

Working hours and patterns

Your working hours and patterns are not usually specified; however, as a guide, you should expect to spend at least 15 hours a week working on your research or undertaking training and development events. At certain points in your doctoral journey, you may have to dedicate more time for intensive study.

You will find your own preferred way of working with us – a few of our part-time cohort attend daily, some others attend weekly, but most who live further afield attend less frequently.


Submission timescales

As a part-time doctoral student, you should aim to submit your thesis within five years of starting your programme. The maximum time allowed is six years, while the earliest submission date is four years (unless you have special permission).


The part-time journey

There are several milestones on your journey towards completing a doctorate. For an overview of the key activities and timescales involved, see our guide to what a doctoral programme entails.

Find out what's involved in a doctoral research programme 


Core training

To equip you with the skills you need to carry out your research professionally and effectively, we have created the Reading Researcher Development Programme (RRDP).

As a part-time doctoral student, you should attend at least nine RRDP sessions over the course of your doctoral programme.

Learn about the Reading Researcher Development Programme (RRDP)


Our part-time doctoral students

To get a fuller flavour of what part-time doctoral research is like at Reading, read about what Dr Natalya Sergeeva and Mark Player have to say about their experiences, and how studying part time works for them.

Dr Natalya Sergeeva: Exploring narratives of innovation in the UK construction sector

Mark Player: Japanese punk film production 


Funding for part-time study

Our regional PhD bursary scheme may be of particular interest to you if you are a local resident (i.e. living within a 25-mile radius of the University) and wish to undertake a doctoral programme while living at home. This competitive scheme has run for a number of years now and has proved particularly popular with those wanting to study part time, many of whom work in the region.

Discover more about our regional PhD bursary scheme


The University of Reading is also currently working with selected employers to support the career development of their talented employees, by means of the Wilkie Calvert Co-Supported PhD Studentships. If you are keen to develop your career further by undertaking a part-time PhD on a topic that is relevant to your organisation, this studentship may be of relevance to you.

Read about the Wilkie Calvert Co-supported PhD Studentships


Fees for part-time study

You will need to pay the relevant part-time fee for each year of study. If you are self-funded, your fees (including research expenses and supervisory visit fees) are normally payable in two equal instalments – one at the start of the academic year and one at the start of the second term.

Find out about fees for part-time study