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 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

To apply you need to submit all the following documentation:

  • a completed online application form for research degree study. Make sure you complete the application form as fully as you can.
  • 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 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. This outline research proposal should include:
    • a statement of the problem or issue to be addressed
    • a short summary of other work/recent literature in the area
    • 2 or 3 specific research objectives
    • an outline of the proposed methodology
    • a brief summary of the timetable for the research.
  • Statement of Motivation (if you are applying for one of our advertised PhD projects - including Doctoral Training Programmes).  Identify your preferred project and the names of the supervisors for that project and explain why it interests you and how your current qualifications and skills map onto the requirements for that choice of project. It should also give an indication of how you would choose to interpret and implement the 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).

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 Institute for Transport Studies 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). 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.

Please contact the Postgraduate Research Administrator if you have any queries about the application process.