How to apply for a PhD

We are looking for ambitious, talented and motivated students. You'll have the passion to make new discoveries, the drive to test new theories, and the willingness to go above and beyond.

PhD student looks through a microscope in a science lab at the University of Sussex

How do I apply?

To find out more about our degrees see our PhD degrees

For most of our degrees, you apply using our postgraduate application system, however for some of our PhDs you need to apply through other routes. Find out which degrees this includes.

To help you apply to Sussex, follow our step-by-step guide below.

Apply now or check an existing application

  1. Choose your research degree

    With 90 research centres and groups, Sussex is the perfect place to find a postgraduate programme that allows you to follow your passion and develop your research interests. 

    We offer:

    • a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). There are 40 subject areas to choose from
    • two different routes to achieving your MPhil or PhD - join one of our funded projects, or propose your own area of research. Find out more about our PhD degrees.
    • full-time or part-time PhDs
    • start dates in September, January or May. 

    You can request to study via distance learning if you are applying for a MPhil or PhD and live outside the UK with a job that prevents you from attending full-time study. However, you must spend at least one term studying at Sussex.

    Find out more about our PhD degrees

  2. Check our entry requirements

    Our specific entry requirements for research at Sussex are listed with each PhD degree

    You also need to meet our general entry requirements, usually an upper second-class undergraduate honours degree (2:1) or equivalent international qualification.

    You must have a Masters qualification for research degrees in the arts and social sciences. 

    If you are an international student, you need to meet our English language requirements, or successfully complete our Pre-sessional English course.

    You may also be asked to attend an interview.

    Find out more about our entry requirements for UK applicants

    Find out more about our entry requirements for international applicants

  3. Choose a research topic or project 

    If you are applying for a funded project at Sussex, you must propose a research project which falls within the research topic you are applying for, and write a research project proposal.

    If you are proposing your own area of research, you need to decide on a research topic and write a research proposal as part of your application. 

    Find out how to write a research proposal

  4. Find a supervisor 

    If you are joining a funded project at Sussex, you will already have a supervisor allocated to you.

    If you are proposing your own research topic, you can find a supervisor to support and advise you.

    You can ask a member of our faculty to be your supervisor if you feel they have the expertise to support you. Alternatively, after you have been offered a place at Sussex, we will match you with a suitable supervisor.

    Find out more about choosing a supervisor

  5. Apply to Sussex

    For most degrees, you apply directly to Sussex using our postgraduate application system.

    You can apply for up to three postgraduate programmes. If you are applying for more than one degree, you must submit a research proposal specific to each area of study you apply for. 

    You must submit the documents below for your application: 

    • research proposal 
    • undergraduate or Masters degree certificate (if available)
    • two academic references (one of the references must be from your most recent university)
    • CV
    • if your undergraduate or Masters degree certificate is not written in English, you must submit a certified English translation of your certificate
    • if you are an international student applying for a science or engineering-based programme, you may need approval from the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) to be accepted.

    Follow our tips for applying to Sussex

    Find out about our Admissions policies

    Degrees where you must apply through other routes: 

    For all courses listed in the medicine and health studies subject area, you apply via the Brighton and Sussex Medical School.

  6. Deadline for applications

    You can apply all year round for research degrees starting in September, January or May.  You can see the deadlines for applying on each PhD degree.

    If you are applying for funding or scholarships you must check the deadlines for your application.

    In some cases, you will need to apply for a place and be given an offer before you can apply for funding, and so you must submit your academic application in plenty of time to meet your funding or scholarship deadlines. 

  7. Check fees, funding and support 

    We have a number of funding and scholarship opportunities.

    Find out more about our PhD scholarships

    If your application is successful, you will have your fee status assessed. If your fee status is unclear, we will ask you to complete a questionnaire. If you disagree with the outcome of your fee status assessment, you can appeal

    Fees information is listed with each PhD degree

  8. Receiving an offer

    We will notify you through our postgraduate application system if we decide to offer you a place.

    Your offer may include conditions - for example, completing your undergraduate or Masters degree with a certain grade or meeting our English language requirements.

    If you decide to accept our offer, you can notify us using the postgraduate application system.

    You can still accept your offer even if you have not yet secured funding. However, you should have funding in place by the time you start at Sussex.

    Find out more about our offers

  9. Confirming your place

    If your offer is unconditional, we may still need to verify your qualifications.

    If your offer is conditional, you should send in your results by email as soon as they are available, so that your place can be confirmed.

    If you are unable to take up your place, you can request to defer your entry for a year.

    If your application is unsuccessful and you are not sure why, you can request feedback.

  10. Before you start at Sussex

    You will be sent information about joining the University in the months before you start your research. 

    For most students, the registration process is completed online. Registration opens in: 

    • early September, if you are starting at Sussex in September
    • December, if you are starting at Sussex in January
    • early April, if you are starting at Sussex in May.

    If you are an international student and you need a visa to study in the UK, you complete most of the registration process online. In order to finalise your registration, you need to attend in person, so we can take a copy of your passport and visa. 

    Find out how to apply for a visa

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