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.
How do I apply?
To find out more about our degrees see our PhD degrees. You apply using our postgraduate application system.
Choose your PhD
Sussex is the perfect place to find a postgraduate research course that allows you to follow your passion and develop your research interests.
- a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and a Master of Philosophy (MPhil). There are more than 50 degrees to choose from
- full-time or part-time PhDs
- all courses start in September and some courses offer additional entry points in January or May
- the opportunity for research students registered elsewhere to visit Sussex.
Distance learning may be available for some PhD courses. Before applying, you should check whether this mode of attendance is supported for the PhD you wish to undertake with the relevant School.
Check our entry requirements
Our specific entry requirements 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 may also be required to have a Masters qualification.
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
Choose a research topic or project
If you apply for one of our funded projects or to a research centre or group you will normally be asked to provide a statement explaining your suitablility for working in that area.
If you wish to propose your own area of research, you need to decide on a research topic and you will normally be expected to write a research proposal. Some areas may only require a summary of academic interests and they will use this to match you to potential supervisors. Before applying check the requirements for your subject area.
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.
If you think you have found a potential supervisor who matches your research area, check their online profile for indications of their doctoral supervision capacity. If they are open to doctoral applications, you can contact them to check their availability for supervising you
You can either ask a member of our faculty to be your supervisor if you think they have the expertise to support you or we will match you with a supervisor during the assessment of your application. If you ask to be supervised by a particular member of faculty, this will be considered but not all such requests can be accommodated.
Apply to Sussex
You apply directly to Sussex using our postgraduate application system.
You can apply for up to three postgraduate courses. If you are applying for more than one degree, you must submit a research proposal/statement specific to each area of study you apply for.
You must submit the following documents when you apply:
- research proposal/research statement
- summary of academic interests (this is optional depending on the subject area you are applying for)
- degree certificates and transcripts. If the originals are not in English, certified translations must be provided
- your English language qualification, where applicable
- two academic references – including one from your most recent university. Or you can provide contact details for your referees and we will email them.
Follow our tips for applying to Sussex
Deadline for applications
You can apply all year round for research degrees starting in September, January and May.
The recommended deadline for applications are:
UK applicants: One month before course start date
International applicants: Three months before course start date.
PhD applications received after these deadlines may be considered, but we cannot guarantee you will be able to commence your studies at your requested entry point.
Where you are applying for funding or scholarships, check the deadlines for your application. In some cases, you may need to have an offer from us before you can apply for funding.
Check fees, funding and support
We have a number of PhD funding and scholarship opportunities.
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.
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 are an international student studying a certain science- or engineering-based course you must apply for Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance after you receive your offer.
Find out about ATAS clearance on the Student Hub.
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 when you start at Sussex.
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 to another available entry point (up to a maximum of 12 months).
If your application is unsuccessful and you are not sure why, you can request feedback.
Before you start at Sussex
You will be sent information about joining us 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. To register, you need to attend in person, so we can take a copy of your passport and visa.