How to apply

We're now welcoming applications for entry to the Research School in 2021/22. To apply for a PhD you need to complete an online application form, compose a detailed research proposal and provide two references and other supporting information.

PhD student in meeting with supervisors in office with bookshelf

Making an application

Applications and enquiries will be dealt with promptly when they arrive in the Department. In order to assess your application, we will require the following documentation:

  • Your research proposal
  • Two letters of reference (preferably from academics who can judge your ability to research and write, e.g. a dissertation supervisor)
  • Transcripts of previous qualifications; your CV; an indication of how you intend to fund your studies
  • For international students, evidence that you meet the English Language Requirements for Doctoral study at USP.

Where you have identified a staff member who you would like to work with as a supervisor, you can approach her/him directly by email to discuss your research ideas prior to making a formal application. All applications must be submitted on the official University application form, which can be completed online.

As a Department we always interview applicants (normally online) prior to making an offer. Interviews last around 30 minutes, and are typically held with the Director of Research School and a member of your intended supervisory team. We use them to explore your proposed research topic: its quality, coherence and fit our Departmental research interests.

Research proposal

Applicants should provide a 1,500 word outline research proposal: our requirements here are quite specific, so look at the further information on writing a research proposal.

In particular we will be reading your proposal to judge whether you can make a coherent argument for a feasible research project.

Deadlines and starting dates

We accept applications at any time of year, although please note that most University of Sheffield-based studentships have application deadlines in January (which means that you need to be discussing your project ideas with potential supervisors before Christmas).

If successful in your application, you will usually be expected to start your studies at the beginning of the Autumn Semester (from mid-September), although cross-sessional starts are possible by arrangement.

International applicants should take account of the time needed to obtain the necessary documentation, permissions and visas, which can take several months.

Entry requirements

Academic and practice backgrounds

We welcome applications from a wide range of subject/disciplinary backgrounds. Many of our students come from backgrounds in either planning and the built environment disciplines, or from social sciences such as geography or politics, but we are happy to consider applicants from beyond these disciplines who have a strong interest in urban issues.

We also recognise the value of practice-based experience, and will consider candidates with substantial experience but less in the way of academic qualifications.

Qualifications required

Each application is assessed individually, but as a minimum we normally require:

  • A good honours degree and a Masters degree or equivalent qualification in an appropriate field. We would normally expect the Masters degree to be at Merit level or above.
  • For candidates not educated in majority English-speaking countries, evidence that you meet the University's English Language Requirements for Doctoral study in USP.