Routes to a PhD

There are three ways to apply for doctoral research.

Kroto Research Institute student

1. Develop your own idea and find a supervisor

Find out who's doing the kind of research you're interested in and familiarise yourself with their work.

Find a research supervisor

Department websites also provide research supervisor details.

2. Apply to work with a supervisor on one of their projects

Departments advertise PhD projects throughout the year. Many projects are funded. You might find that a research project comes with a supervisor attached. Even so, it's worth finding out as much as you can about your supervisor before you apply.

PhD project directory

3. Apply to a Centre for Doctoral Training

Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) are a radical alternative to the usual PhD. They're designed to produce skilled individuals who can tackle the major challenges of our time. The programmes take three to four years to complete and combine taught modules with original research. They lead to a full PhD or Engineering Doctorate (EngD).

You can apply direct to a CDT or in some cases to the University, which includes writing a proposal.

Find a training centre

Department websites also advertise the latest CDT opportunities.

What is a PhD?

A PhD is the highest academic degree that can be achieved through study, involving up to four years full-time (or up to eight years part-time) working towards a presentation of original research in the form of a thesis that offers a significant, original contribution to knowledge.

You'll manage your project with the support of an expert supervisory team, and undertake a tailored doctoral training programme to develop the advanced skills and expertise you will need.

Outside of the core PhD programme you will be encouraged to take advantage of broader opportunities such as teaching, publishing, communicating your research, developing professional networks, and interacting with industry partners or external organisations.

You'll be a key part of the academic community in your department and beyond, and be prepared for a wide range of career options both within and outside of academia. 

PhDs with Integrated Studies

Some of our departments offer PhDs with Integrated Studies. You spend an initial year taking taught modules and a short research project, so you learn the research skills you'll need before progressing to a PhD.

Check department websites for the latest course details.

Scholarships and funding

Ideally, you should start planning and investigating funding opportunities at least a year before you want to start your studies. There are lots of different types of scholarships available, from partial fee scholarships to full awards covering fees and maintenance. There are also other sources of external funding.


Find a PhD

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