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.

The sponsorship is typically attached to a specific research project and usually cover tuition fees and maintenance for living expenses. These awards are very competitive.

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

You may choose to submit your draft research proposal to a supervisor in the first instance. 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

You can apply for your research degree online. Make sure you complete the application form as fully as you can.

Funded research projects (including Doctoral Training Programmes)

You’re required to provide the following information:

  • the title of the research project that you are applying for and the names of the supervisors for that project 
  • grade(s) or degree classification(s) for your degree-level qualifications
  • Statement of Motivation: explain why this project interests you and how your qualifications map onto the requirements of the project.

Important information: please add the title of the funded research project/Centre for Doctoral Training in both the ‘funding’ and ‘research area/title’ section of the application form.

Non-funded research projects

You’ll be requested to provide the following information:

  • your expected source of funding
  • your proposed research area
  • a brief one-paragraph summary of your research interests
  • grade(s) or degree classification(s) for your degree-level qualifications.

Start your own project

You’ll be asked to provide the following information:

  • a research proposal
  • your expected source of funding
  • your proposed research area
  • grade(s) or degree classification(s) for your degree-level qualifications.

Important information: you’re required to submit a research proposal as part of your application.

All applications require you to upload or provide the following documents:

  • your CV
  • copies of your degree certificate(s)
  • transcripts of marks achieved in degree-level qualifications
  • 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)
  • 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 you’ve applied online you will be able to log in and track your application’s progress at any time.

International applicants only
Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)
The UK Government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) operates a scheme called the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS). If you’re an international (non-EU/EEA or Swiss citizen) applicant and require a student visa to study in the UK then you may require an ATAS certificate to undertake a PhD at the University of Leeds. Our graduate school will provide you with further information once you’ve applied.

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 available scholarships within the School of Earth and Environment here. 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). The School generally receives these types of funding through Doctoral Training Partnerships and large grants. The projects linked to these types of sponsorship will be advertised as fully-funded projects.

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.