Postgraduate research FAQs

Read our frequently asked questions.

Before applying

The most up-to-date and detailed information on the courses we offer and related matters is available on our postgraduate research degree pages.

You can also download our postgraduate research applicant guide too.

Please see our postgraduate research course fees page for the latest information.

Intakes are normally available in October, January, April and July, depending on your chosen discipline.

Please see the course information page for the postgraduate research degree you are interested in, for details on the intakes available.

Many students take on their doctorate part-time, or work from a distance.

Please see the course information page for the postgraduate research degree you are interested in, for details on the modes of study available.

Entry requirements

The score or level of English language required varies between courses. Please visit the individual postgraduate research degree pages to see the requirements for each one.

The qualifications we can accept as evidence of English language ability are available on our English language requirements page.

We will consider applications from students who narrowly miss out on achieving the required grades, on a case by case basis. We recommend that you contact a potential supervisor to discuss your research ideas prior to applying, to increase your chances of success. Work experience within your chosen field may be taken into consideration as part of a full overall assessment of your application to establish your suitability for a place on your chosen course.

If you have taken or are taking non-UK based qualifications, please check our international students pages, for information on the entry requirements from your country. If your country isn’t listed, you contact the Admissions team for more information.

Making an application

You can apply online via our website. The application forms are available on the course information pages for the course that you are interested in. Just look out for the ‘apply online’ section. Before completing your application, we recommend that all PhD applicants contact a potential supervisor to discuss their research ideas. This will ensure that the department has the right expertise to supervise your proposed project. Take a look at our postgraduate research degree pages for more details on the courses we offer.

Yes, you can apply online via our website. The application forms are available on the course information pages for the course that you are interested in. Just look out for the apply online section. Take a look at our postgraduate research degree pages for more details on the courses we offer.

We do not charge a fee for submitting an application to us.

To find a potential supervisor, please take a look at the departmental pages or the research area pages for the subject area that you are considering. These are highlighted at the bottom of every postgraduate research degree course page.

You can also find a supervisor by using our research paper repository. Here you can search using keywords or by research area, or author. This is a great place to look at what research we are involved in and to find a potential supervisor related to that area. Once you have found a potential supervisor, or first point of contact in a department or research unit, we suggest you open a dialogue with them via email. For those who are considering applying through an advertised studentship, then this process is slightly different – please see the individual studentship details for more information.

We recommend that you find a potential supervisor before applying. If you are unable to you can still go ahead and make an application and it will be circulated to the academics once received and checked. This may add a significant amount of processing time to your application, so it is often quicker and easier to have secured a supervisor prior to applying.

You will need to include the following:

  • Scanned copies of signed/stamped qualifications (certificates or transcripts) to show how you meet, or expect to meet, the entry requirements
  • Evidence of English language level (if English is not your first language)
  • A copy of your passport (if you need a visa to study here)
  • A detailed research proposal describing what research you wish to do and why (where requested)
  • Contact details for two referees
  • A CV listing your full academic and work history.

Applications are open throughout the year and we advise that you apply as early as you are able to, and ideally no later than two months prior to your intended start date. Start dates are in October, January, April or July, although not all courses offer all four entry points. Please check the postgraduate research degree course pages for details.

There is no official deadline for applying for our postgraduate research courses (unless otherwise stated on the course webpage, or unless you are applying for a specific studentship which has its own deadline), however we recommend that you apply as early as possible to allow us sufficient time to process your application (and Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) if a visa is required). Postgraduate research applications can take four to eight weeks to process so it is advisable to allow plenty of time.

You can track the progress of your application via Surrey Self-Service. If a decision hasn’t been made on your application after eight weeks, you can contact the Admissions team to check the progress.

It is only possible to defer postgraduate research applications within the same academic cycle, e.g. from an October start to a January, April or July start (where available). Please send your request to the Admissions team.

We will confirm whether or not the deferral is possible, subject to approval from your supervisor. If you wish to be considered for the following academic year, you will need to submit a new application when the next admissions cycle opens in October/November.

If you haven’t yet received a decision you can withdraw your application by logging into Surrey Self-Service and selecting ‘withdraw application’ in the ‘available actions’ section. If you have received an offer, you can decline it by selecting ‘respond to offer’ and then ‘decline offer’.

Please see studentships and financial support for research students for information regarding potential sources of funding and financial support for postgraduate research students, such as studentships.

We offer studentships throughout the year. Details of any currently available are advertised on our prospective postgraduate researchers page. Each advertised studentship will provide details on how to apply. This process varies depending on the research area and type of studentship, so please refer to the individual studentship for more information.

After applying/accepting an offer

Most non-UK and non-EU applicants studying subjects in certain areas require an ATAS certificate, irrespective of country of residence at the point of application. However, if you have indefinite leave to remain, you will not require ATAS to study in the UK.

To check whether your chosen course requires ATAS, look at the CAH3 code shown on your offer letter and then visit the website to see if this is on the list of subject areas concerned and whether your nationality requires an ATAS certificate. There you’ll find further details on how to apply. We will also contact you if you require an ATAS certificate, with specific instructions when it is time for you to apply. When making your application, you must use the specific research summary that has been sent to you by the University of Surrey.

Please note that UK immigration law does not allow universities to register students for an ATAS applicable course (and ATAS applicable nationality) until the student has supplied the university with all the relevant ATAS certificate details for their application.

If you have questions about how and when to apply, please refer to the website.

You will need to:

  • Pay your deposit/provide evidence of sponsorship
  • Apply for accommodation
  • Apply for ATAS (if required and following specific instructions that we will send you)
  • Upload evidence to meet the conditions of your offer via Surrey Self-Service.