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How to apply

1. Is a PhD at the University of Reading right for you?

Before applying for our PhD programme, please read our What to expect during your PhD guide.

2. Check our entry requirements

To be accepted on our PhD programmes, you will need a master's degree or equivalent in a subject related to your proposed PhD research topic and have the necessary language competence for the distinct areas of language study offered by the Department (for example French, German, Italian, and Spanish).

If you are from outside of the UK, you will also need to demonstrate you have a certain level of proficiency with written and spoken English and achieve an overall IELTS score of 7.0.

For more information on entry requirements, visit our Doctoral and Researcher College website.

3. Select a topic

If you have a clear idea about a research project of your choice, you should first determine whether the 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.

You should outline your project in a research proposal. The Doctoral and Researcher College provides guidance on proposal writing. The Department might be able to offer you some feedback on a full draft of your proposal if you contact them about a prospective application. 

4. Identify a supervisor

Please contact the Department's Director of Postgraduate Research Studies by emailing

You could also get in touch with the potential supervisor if you have someone specific in mind, but this should be in addition to contacting the Director of Postgraduate Research Studies. It is not essential to communicate directly with the Department before submitting your application, but many candidates find the guidance they receive very helpful.

5. Make an application

Please apply to the PhD programme you wish to study 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. Although you will be working with a specific department or supervisor, all PhD applications have to be made centrally.

We will acknowledge your application and then pass it on to the appropriate school or department.

Although most new students join the PhD programme in September, it is possible to start your studies in January or April during the academic year.