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There is more than one way to achieve a doctorate. Our programmes allow you to gain a PhD or professional doctorate in a way that suits you.

We offer a number of programmes leading to doctoral qualifications, all of which allow you to make an in-depth study of a topic that interests you. In order to be awarded a doctorate, you need to carry out independent and original research, which you write up in the form of a thesis.

You can choose to follow a full- or part-time programme. In general:

  • a full-time programme takes three to four years
  • a part-time programme takes five to six years.


PhD programmes

Most of our doctoral researchers are working towards a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). There are various ways of achieving a PhD, depending on the subject and your experience to date.


PhD by Thesis

This is the traditional route to a PhD and you can take this type of programme in any of our research areas. During your PhD, you carry out independent, original research, which you present as a thesis of up to 90,000 words.


Writing a thesis as a collection of papers

It is becoming increasingly common for doctoral students, particularly those in science disciplines, to write their thesis as a collection of papers. Our guidance gives some of the advantages for students of adopting this approach and also provides advice on how to structure the thesis. Please note this is distinct from the separate qualification 'PhD by Published Works' and the guidance sets out the distinction.

Writing a thesis as a collection of papers: guidance (PDF, 0.8 MB)


PhD by Published Works

If you have developed your research skills through a body of publications produced during the course of your career, either within or outside academia, you can opt for a PhD by Published Works. This programme is between 12 - 24 months in duration and can be studied on a full or part-time basis.

Find out more about PhD by Published Works (PDF, 1.3 MB) 


Practice-based PhD

This route to a PhD is relevant for some arts subjects, where your independent, original PhD research is presented through both practice and a thesis. Further information about this can be found on the relevant department websites.


PhD by Distance

Our PhD by Distance programme is designed to support students who need to study for most of their registration period at another (usually overseas) site, on a full- or part-time basis.

Find out about our PhD by Distance programme 


Professional doctorates

These programmes involve advanced study and research, combining professional and academic knowledge. During your doctorate, you take taught courses and complete an original piece of research, presented as a thesis.

We offer professional doctorates in:


Master's by research

To gain a master's by research (MbyRes), you are required to study a number of taught modules and carry out independent, original research, which you present as a thesis. A MbyRes programme takes one year full-time or two years part-time, and is only available in specific subjects.