How to apply - research degrees

Students working

You should apply via the research postgraduate web application service, which allows tracking of your application.

Please include copies of all transcripts and degree certificates with your application.  You should also submit a research proposal and a writing sample of your work, and three academic references in support of your application.

Research Proposal

If you are applying for a research degree, you must include a research proposal and a sample of your written work.

The research proposal should be 500 words in length and include a short bibliography. It should outline what the motivation for your proposed research is and how you intend to go about pursuing it, with reference to what you take the central literature in the area to be.

If you are applying for funding for a research degree, please note that it is crucial that your proposal is as tightly worked up as possible. You should bear in mind the following:

  • the proposal must be focused 
  • the proposal must make it clear why your research is philosophically or historically interesting 
  • you should identify why your proposed research fills a gap in relation to existing work (e.g. because the line you are proposing to take is new, develops work further or in new directions, shows why or how apparent problems can be solved, etc.)

The sample of written work should constitute a philosophical essay on a question of your choice which must be no less than 3-4,000 words. 

History and Philosophy of Science applicants may submit a piece of work which is either philosophical or historical broadly construed.


You are required to submit 3 academic references in support of your application. The names and contact details of your referees should be entered in the Referees section of the application form.

Your referees should be qualified to comment on your academic ability and should not be from people related to you by blood or marriage.

You are responsible for contacting your referees and ensuring that all necessary references are received.

References can be submitted on headed paper or using the referee's report form. Your referees should return their references by email to or in sealed envelopes to Postgraduate Administrator, Philosophy, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT.

Deadline for applications

There is no deadline for applications for research programmes; you may start your course of study at any point during the year.  However, most research students commence their studies at the start of October and we would recommend this whenever possible so that you have the benefit of a full induction programme.

You should apply at least six weeks before your intended start date to ensure that all documentation is in place in good time.

Please note that if you are intending to apply for scholarship funding, several of the schemes require you to have applied for a place on your chosen programme of study as early as December or January.