Applying essentials – PhD study

If you're applying for postgraduate research at Sheffield, you'll find all the key information on this page. Please read it before you complete your application.


Before you apply

There are three ways you can undertake postgraduate/doctoral research at the University:

  • Researching your own idea with an academic supervisor
  • As part of an existing research project
  • Within one of our Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs)

Find out more about these different options:

Routes to a PhD

You can search for supervisors, projects and Centres for Doctoral Training on our Find A PhD page. If you want to research your own idea, you should contact the relevant academic department before you submit a formal application, to check that they have an appropriately-qualified supervisor in the area you'd like to study.

Find a PhD

PhD projects normally last between 3 and 4 years for full-time PhDs and 6 and 8 years for part-time PhDs, depending on the source of funding and scope of the research project. This is the period during which tuition fees are payable. You can find more information about PhD fees and fee-paying periods on our Fees webpage:

PhD fees

Information about academic entry requirements is available from the department in which your research is based. Entry requirements vary depending on what you study – some subjects require a masters degree, others ask for a good undergraduate degree (a 2:1 or a First). Links to departmental webpages are provided on the Find A PhD page.

Our English language requirements for postgraduate courses are available on our English Language Requirements webpage:

English language requirements for postgraduate courses

A full list of our formal policies, including our Student Admissions Policy, is available on our Policies webpages:

Admissions policies


You can apply for postgraduate research using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. You can find information about how to do this, and a link to the form, on our How To Apply page:

How to apply

Information about the documents you should include to support your application, and how to supply these, is provided in our supporting documents guidance:

Supporting documents

You may be asked to provide a research proposal as part of your application. Please check the PhD pages of the relevant academic department for details of whether you need to do this and what you should include. General guidance on how to write a research proposal has been developed by our 301 Academic Skills Centre:

How to write a research proposal

If you have a disability, we would encourage you to indicate this in your online application so that we can assess any support needs you might have. We do this separately from our academic assessment of your application. For more information about the process and the support available, see our Disabled Applicants webpage:

Disabled applicants

The standard application deadlines for students intending to start in the autumn (September/October) are provided on our key dates and deadlines page. We recommend that these students apply early in the year (January/February).

Key dates and deadlines for postgraduate courses

Although we advise students to start in September/October, it's often possible to start postgraduate research at any point in the year. You can state your preferred start date in your application, although this will need to be confirmed by the academic department.

You should leave yourself plenty of time between applying and your start date to make arrangements to come to Sheffield if we make you an offer, particularly if you're an International applicant and will need to arrange a student visa.

After you apply

You can find out what happens after you've submitted your application on our After You Apply webpage. When we've made a decision on your application we'll send you an email to tell you what that decision is, and what you need to do next:

After you apply

If you'll need a visa to study in the UK, you can find more information about when and how we'll arrange your CAS on our CAS Application webpages:

CAS application

Ask us a question

Get in touch online or by phone:

Contacts for prospective students

Find a PhD

Search for PhD opportunities at Sheffield and be part of our world-leading research.