Skip to main content

How to apply – University of Reading

Show access keys
  • How to write a research proposal

    Read our guide


    View our Highlights of 2020

How to apply

Are you ready to develop yourself personally and professionally by becoming a postgraduate researcher at Reading?

When you've decided which doctoral research programme is right for you, this guide tells you everything you need to know about the application process.

When to apply

You should plan to join us at the start of an academic term. Most of our postgraduate researchers join us in September for the start of the autumn term; a smaller number start in the spring or summer terms.

In order to give us sufficient time to process your application, we recommend submitting your application by the following deadlines:

Type of applicant Application deadline
UK applicants At least two months before the programme start date
International applicants At least four months before the programme start date

You will need to have received a formal offer of a place from us before you apply for some scholarships. Therefore, make sure you allow enough time for us to process your programme application so that you can still meet the scholarship application deadline.

Find the right School or Department for you

Once you have a suitable research topic in mind, you will need to find the most appropriate academic School or Department that could support your area of research. The best place to start is to visit the dedicated web pages for our Schools and Departments. Here you will find information about:

  • the main areas of research for that School or Department
  • entry requirements
  • English language requirements
  • specific fee and funding arrangements.

School and Department web pages can easily be found via our list of doctoral research areas.

Make an initial enquiry

We recommend that you get in touch with us before you make a formal application. This will give you the opportunity to discuss your ideas, get advice about the most appropriate type of research degree for you, and find out about potential supervisors.  

Write a research proposal*

*If you are applying for an advertised project/studentship then a research proposal is not required as the research topic is already set.

You may be asked to write an outline of your research proposal and submit this with your application, although this is not required in every case.

Will I need to submit a research proposal?

If you have qualified in the arts, humanities, social sciences or in business, you will most likely identify your own research topic and will therefore need to submit a research proposal.

With a background in science or life science, you may be applying for a project that has already been devised by a supervisor (in which case, you will not need to submit a research proposal) or you may be bringing a research proposal you have developed, in which case you will need to submit a research proposal with your application.

How do I write a research proposal?

If a research proposal is required, in general, this should include:

  • the main research question(s) that you want to address
  • what makes this of interest and importance
  • how your thinking builds on any previous work
  • what research methodology or techniques you may need to use
  • what facilities you are likely to require
  • how the research can be completed in the time available 

General guidance on how to write a research proposal

To maximise the likelihood of a successful application, we strongly recommend that all applicants read the following guidance before finalising their research proposal and submitting their online PhD application.

Department-specific guidance on how to write a research proposal (where available)

If you have specific questions then please contact the relevant School Director of Postgraduate Research Studies for your research topic. 

Academic requirements

To be accepted to study for a PhD, applicants will normally need to have an undergraduate degree of at least an Upper Second-class/2.1 (or equivalent) and/or a master's degree, in a subject related to the proposed PhD topic. In some areas of the University (particularly in the arts, humanities, social sciences and business) applicants are normally only accepted if they have a master's level qualification.

English language requirements

The majority of PhD programmes require a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 however, some areas require a score of 7.0 these are: Henley Business School (with the exception of Business Informatics and Systems Accounting which accepts 6.5), School of Arts and Communication Design, School of Humanities, School of Languages Literature and European Studies and Institute of Education. The specific English requirements relating to your PhD programme will be specified on your offer of admission.

Submit your application

Once you are ready to make a formal application, you can apply through our online application service. This allows you to include electronic copies of your academic transcripts, certificates and other supporting information; it also enables us to contact your referees directly.

What happens next?

We will confirm that we have received your application and let you know when you are likely to hear whether it has been successful or not.

If your application is successful, the Admissions Office will send you a letter offering you a place on your chosen doctoral research programme. The offer may be conditional, for example, on:

  • academic criteria, such as your degree result
  • your English language proficiency, for international students.

Further information

To make an enquiry about your application, contact

Further information is also available in our  Postgraduate Research Programmes Admissions Policy.

​Apply now

Submit your online application to become a doctoral researcher at Reading.

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