How to apply for research programmes



Once you've found the right research opportunity, you're ready to apply.

This step-by-step guide will take you through the application process.

Before you apply

1. Check entry requirements

Entry requirements vary by programme – check our online prospectus for details. Evidence of relevant personal, professional and educational experience may be taken into consideration – please contact the academic school directly for further information.

International and EU students can find guidance on alternative qualifications on our country-specific webpages. If English isn't your first language, you will also need to meet the relevant English language requirements. IELTS requirements are detailed on our programme pages, though we also accept alternative qualifications.

English language preparation and support

If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.


2. Investigate research opportunities

There are a number of ways to begin the process of applying for a research opportunity, depending on which path you decide to take.

Identify a specific supervisor

You may wish to identify a specific supervisor working in your field of interest and approach them directly to discuss your research idea. They may be able to help you with developing a research proposal and applications to secure funding. You will still need to submit a formal application to the University.

Search our expertise guide

Investigate our current research projects

You can also find out if research in your area of interest is already taking place at the University and then apply directly to the relevant school, department or institute.

Apply for a studentship

If you are applying for a studentship (a fully funded research place in a specific area), the process is similar to applying for a job and the advert will give specific details of how to do this. Many of our studentships are advertised in the jobs section of our website, and you can also search and You may also need to submit a formal application for the course.

Find a studentship

Explore doctoral training opportunities

Doctoral training programmes deliver tailored high-level research and skills training and often offer funded placements. Each doctoral training programme has a different application process and deadlines. You may also need to submit a formal application for the course online.

View doctoral training opportunities


3. Check key dates and deadlines

Research programmes usually recruit throughout the year, however, you should check if there is a closing date for projects you are applying for.

If you are interested in a doctoral training programme, please check dates and deadlines for the centre you are applying to.

International students should apply as early as possible. The deadline for courses starting on Tuesday 1 October 2019 is Friday 16 August 2019.

You will need to have an unconditional offer and demonstrate that you have secured sufficient funding before you can apply for your student visa. The visa process is likely to take some time, so if you are outside the UK you will need to factor this in to the overall timescales. For an overview of the process, see our 7 Step Guide.

Funding deadlines

An offer of study is required for many funding opportunities. You should check deadlines for applications carefully, as these are often early in the year.

Start dates

Most research programmes will start on 1 October, with additional dates in December, February, April or July. Please contact the academic school for details of specific start dates.



4. Write a research proposal

Your application will usually include a 1,000–3,000-word research proposal. This will be judged on both content and format.

For advice on how to write a research proposal, see our how to guide. You can also contact the relevant academic school directly as they may be able to provide extra information.


5. Apply for funding

There are lots of options and support available – find out more on our funding webpages. The University offers a range of research scholarships for international students.

Wherever possible you should secure funding before applying for a research programme. However, some scholarships, loans and funding schemes may require you to secure an offer of admission from the University beforehand.


6. Submit an application

You can apply directly through our online system.

You will receive an automatic acknowledgment when you application is submitted and can view its progress using the tracking information.

You will be required to provide two references as part of your application. At least one of these will need to be able to comment on your academic ability. You will also need to provide supporting documents as part of your application, including your degree certificate and transcripts. 

You can upload scanned copies of any documents that are required as part of your application. Please do not send original copies in the post.

Apply online


After you apply

7. Track your application

You can log in at any time to track the progress of your application.

When we have made a decision on your application, we will send you an email and let you know what you need to do next.

There is lots of information about the University in our postgraduate applicants' area, as well as details on accepting your offer, accommodation and other helpful hints and tips.




Student Recruitment Enquiries Centre

The University of Nottingham
King's Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

t: +44 (0) 115 951 5559
w: Frequently asked questions
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