How to apply

Apply online now, or follow this step-by-step guide to complete your application.

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

Find a research project

We offer a number of funded and non-funded research projects.

These are typically attached to a specific research project and usually cover tuition fees and maintenance for living expenses. These studentships are very competitive so it’s important that once you’ve selected a project you contact the relevant supervisor as early as possible.

If you’d like to apply for one of these PhD opportunities you’ll need to find a suitable source of funding. You can find more info on funding, including scholarships, on our fees and funding page

Propose your own project

If you’d like to start your own research project, the first thing you must do is find a supervisor. They must be experts in the topic you’re interested in to ensure that your research is accurate and adding to current knowledge. When you contact a potential supervisor please be prepared to discuss your area of research, proposed topic and research interests.

Once you’ve discussed your research with a suitable supervisor you’ll be asked to write a research proposal for your application.

Step 2 – apply for a research degree

To apply you need to submit all the following documentation:

  • completed online application form for research degree study (please click on the link)
  • a Curriculum Vitae (cv/ resumé) outlining your academic achievements and any relevant experience to date.
  • Transcripts and certificates of all degrees obtained to date.  If you have not yet graduated, please send details of marks obtained so far.
  • One of the following: 
  • Research Proposal (if you are proposing your own project). This should be no longer than six pages, plus references. It should include an introduction to the topic, the aims of the research and the specific research questions, full methodology, and referencing.  This will enable potential supervisors to see if you have a good grasp of the literature and understand the major issues, and that your methodology is sound. A well-written proposal will demonstrate your competence, as well as helping us to make sure that we have staff with the expertise needed for the successful completion of your research.
  • Statement of Motivation (if you are applying for one of our advertised PhD projects).  Identify your preferred project and explain why it interests you and how your current qualifications and skills map onto the requirements for that choice of project.
  • Academic references: before we can give full consideration to your application, we need a minimum of two academic references.These should be submitted with your application and they must be on headed notepaper and signed. Alternatively, the referees can download the form and email it directly to Please note that it is your responsibility to request these references and ensure that they are sent to us.
  • If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you meet the University's English Language requirements (e.g., IELTS/TOEFL).

Step 3 – find and apply for funding

You do not need to complete this step if:

  • you have already secured funding
  • you have applied for a funded research project.

If you’re hoping to secure funding for your PhD, there are many options available to you. You can browse for funding schemes on our database. Scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and are very competitive, so it’s important that you make enquiries and apply as early as possible.

Other sources of funding

University of Leeds

The University's postgraduate scholarships website gives you access to a searchable database of all University postgraduate research funding opportunities at the University.

Research Council funding

Every year the University receives over £7m from the Research Councils to fund new postgraduate scholarships (both Masters and research). Candidates should check the relevant Research Council website for further information:

Trusts, charities and foundations

There are many trusts, charities and foundations that award partial funding for postgraduate study. There are huge numbers of applications for these sums of money, so you’ll need a strong case to make a successful application.

Useful external sources

Step 4 – accept your offer

If your application is successful you’ll be sent an offer letter. You can accept your offer online using your web login ID and web login PIN.

If you do accept your offer you’ll 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.

Step 5 – keep in touch

Once you’ve accepted your offer, we’ll send you a welcome pack with details of your start date and all the things you need to know before you arrive such as accommodation information and induction events. You’ll also receive a regular e-newsletter informing you about the latest news and events from across the University right up until your arrival.