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. You apply using our postgraduate application system.

Apply or check an existing application
  1. 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.

    We offer:

    • a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and a Master of Philosophy (MPhil). There are more than 50 degrees to choose from
    • Integrated PhDs in the University of Sussex Business School
    • 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.

    Find out more about our PhD degrees

  2. 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 applying to the University of Sussex Business School, you may wish to choose the Integrated PhD, which contains an initial year of rigorous training in the research skills needed to become a skilled practitioner. If you are unsure which route to apply for, please apply for the Integrated PhD.

    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 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.

  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.

    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.

  5. 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
    • CV
    • 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

    Find out about our admissions policies

  6. Deadline for applications

    You can apply all year round for research degrees starting in September, January and May.

    The recommended deadline for applications are:

    International applicants: Three months before course start date
    Home/EU applicants: One month 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.

  7. 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.

    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.

    In the University of Sussex Business School, your offer may be for the Integrated PhD rather than the PhD. This will happen if the School feel you need the additional training in research skills which the initial year of the Integrated PhD provides.

    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.

  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 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.

  10. 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.

You might also be interested in: