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How to Apply

Find out how to apply for a research degree at Durham, including information about finding a supervisor, entry requirements, writing a research proposal and the Applicant Portal.

Each course has its own entry requirements and you’ll need to check what they are for the course you’re interested in. As a guide, you’ll usually need at least a 2:1 honours degree or its equivalent.
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Make contact with a department and find a supervisor 

When applying to study for a research degree you should find out if your academic department shares your research interests and that there is a supervisor with expertise in your subject area to support you.  All of our departments are happy to discuss their areas of expertise so please do get in touch with them before applying. 

Check entry requirements 

Each course has its own entry requirements and you’ll need to check what they are for the course you’re interested in.  As a guide, you’ll usually need at least a 2:1 honours degree or its equivalent.   

We welcome applications from overseas students and you can check our country information pages for details on how your qualification compares to the UK system. 

You’ll also need to check our English language requirements to make sure your English language is at the level for you to be able to succeed on your course. 

Further advice on visa requirements, including how to get your Certificate of Acceptance for Studies is available from our Visa Information pages. 

Write a research proposal 

Your research proposal is an integral part of your application.  You should make contact with the department where you are interested in studying to discuss your research proposal with them.  Depending on the department, they may then nominate potential supervisors, who will help you to develop your research proposal before you make an application. 

You can find information and advice about how to write your research proposal on our department pages:

Dates and deadlines 

You can often start a research degree at different times of the year as well as in the autumn term, with some available in January and April/May.  You should let us know when you apply when you would like to start your studies and leave enough time for the application process to be completed before the start of your course.  If you’re an international student then you’ll also need enough time to apply for a Student visa. 

Some applications may specify a deadline by which you must apply, so it’s worth asking the department where you would like to study this to make sure you apply in time. 


Once you have refined your research proposal you’re now ready to make an application through our Applicant Portal.   

You don’t have to submit your application all in one go.  The application is organised into sections so once you’ve started it you can save it and come back to it at any time.  You’ll need to upload certain documents as part of the application process so it’s a good idea to have these ready when you apply.  These include: 

  • Transcripts of your qualifications  
  • English language test certificates if taken 
  • Personal statement (if not written directly into the portal) 
  • Two satisfactory references (unless you wish to supply referee details so we can contact them for you) 
  • Scholarship documentation (if applicable) 
  • Research proposal 

Don’t worry if you don’t have all of your documents with you when you apply as you can always upload them later through the portal. 

As an applicant for a research degree, you’ll also need to give us an outline of your field of study and the name and department of your potential supervisor. 

We communicate with you through your applicant portal through action requests and notifications, so it’s a good idea to log in to your portal regularly so you can check on the progress of your application.