Applying for research degrees

The easiest way to apply is online. This will allow you to track your application at each stage of the process.

Before you apply we suggest you take time to read the following application steps and check the admissions process and requirements for your particular research area.

Some Faculties have specific guidance relevant to their area. Where instructions or advice differs, the Faculty-specific guidance should be followed. If you have any queries, please contact the relevant graduate school.

Take a look at our most recent postgraduate research admissions policy.

If you are a current postgraduate researcher studying at another institution and need to use our facilities, you should contact the relevant graduate school.

If you have any difficulties applying online, please email our research admissions team via

International applicants

International applicants can use the services of University representatives overseas. Please see our information about immigration, and specific entry requirements including English language requirements. Find out more about immigration requirements for all types of temporary study, and research visits.

Applying for a research degree is a simple five-step process:

Step 1 — choose an existing research project or start your own

For information on the research degrees we offer, visit our research opportunities directory. Please make sure that you are able to meet the following requirements before submitting your application: 

Start dates vary, but contact your graduate school or faculty admissions office for advice on when you can start your research.

Start your own project

If you would like to start your own research project we recommend you are up to date with related literature and news so you are ready to discuss the direction you intend your research to take with potential supervisors. You need to identify the supervisors available to work with you. They must be experts in the topic you are interested in to ensure that your research is accurate and adding to current knowledge. You will then need to develop a research proposal for your application.

How to search for supervisors:

Step 2 – apply

Before you apply you should contact your graduate school and ask if they have any special application requirements or Faculty-specific guidance you need to follow. When applying, it is important you state clearly the intended project or programme.

The supporting documents your school needs to process your application may vary but you must provide copies of your academic transcripts or certificates. 

You may also need copies of:

  • your CV
  • a research proposal
  • certificates and transcripts of any academic qualifications
  • English language qualification certificates
  • visa and immigration documents.

All documents should be in English or be accompanied by a certified translation into English. They can be sent via the online research degree application or can be emailed to your school or faculty admissions office after you have submitted your application. Your email should include your student ID number (emailed to you on submission of your application), full name and your intended course of study.

Original or certified true copies will need to be supplied separately when you register in Leeds. Please do not send original documents at the application stage (if you are an international student you will require these documents in your student visa application process).

Disabled students

We are committed to providing high-quality advice and support for postgraduate researchers. You can choose to tell us about your disability during the application process. See how in our information for disabled postgraduate researchers.

Disability information that you disclose on your research degree application form will not be visible to admissions colleagues, but it will be made available to our Disability Services team who will contact you should you accept an offer from us. You can also register with Disability Services in advance of accepting an offer.

If you require any reasonable adjustments throughout the admissions and scholarships selections process we will be very happy to assist you. Please get in touch with your Graduate School admissions team to discuss your needs.
You are not obliged to inform us of any disability, but you’ll still be covered by the Equality Act (2010) if that disability becomes known to us.  


You need to provide the names and contact details of a minimum of two academic referees in support of your application. These should be entered in the referees section of the online application form.

Read more about references for research degree applications.

Research proposal 

Some faculties require a brief description of the general research area you are interested in, or a specific research proposal. Be aware the faculty may have deadlines for your proposal so be sure to ask before you apply. Your research proposal is submitted via the application form.

You may not need to provide a research proposal if you are applying for a pre-defined project studentship or a Doctoral Training centre programme, but please check when applying. 

Declaring a criminal conviction

If you have an unspent criminal conviction, you may need to declare it to us. This is usually required when we make you an offer that you wish to accept. For a small number of our courses, you will need to declare it when you apply. Having a criminal conviction will only rarely stop you from studying at Leeds. Find out more about declaring a criminal conviction.

After you've applied

If you have applied online you will be able to log in and track your research degree application’s progress at any time. The school may contact you if it has any further entry requirements. For example, you may be invited for an interview.

Step 3 – find scholarships and sources of funding

There are many options available for you to secure the funding you need to commence your research studies including scholarships and bursaries.

  • UK research councils: competition for these scholarships is high but the majority of your fees will be funded so it is well worth applying.
  • University research degree scholarships: we offer scholarships centrally and on faculty level to help fund your research.
  • Alumni bursary: if you are a University of Leeds alumnus you could receive a 10% discount on tuition fees.
  • Other sources of funding: there are databases with funding opportunities as well as charities to help support your research.

Step 4 – accept your offer

If your application is successful you will be sent an offer letter that you will need to respond to. You can accept your research degree offer online using your web login ID and web login PIN. 

If you do accept your offer you will be agreeing to the terms and conditions outlined in your acceptance letter and you should only do so if you have secured funding for your studies.

Changing the start date

To request a new start date, you should contact the graduate school that you applied to. If they are able to accommodate this change then a new formal offer letter will be issued with your revised start and end date. You will have to accept this new offer as outlined previously.