Application guidance

Explore our advice and see what sort of things you need to consider – from finding a supervisor to drafting a research proposal – we've got tips and advice to help you begin your PhD journey.

Postgraduate Research Applicant Guide

Application process

Seven steps to starting your doctoral programme.

Identify the areas you are interested in, and find the institutions that are actively involved in research and offer doctoral programmes in this area. 

View all doctoral programmes at Surrey.

When you find the programme that you are interested in, check the entry requirements, including English language requirements if English isn't your first language. 

Visit the 'themes and facilities' section of the programme page to discover the different research themes that are available and explore our academic staff profiles to identify a suitable supervisor. 

You can also use our research paper repository which allows you to search by keywords, author or research area. 

You will need to find a potential supervisor and get in touch with them in order to make an application. 

If you are applying for a particular studentship opportunity, contact details of the relevant academic are included in the studentship advert. 

Visit, or our studentships page to view our full list of current studentship opportunities. 

Each advertised studentship will provide details on how to apply. This process is different depending on the research area and type of studentship, so please refer to each individual studentship for application process information. Your studentship application is separate to your programme application. 

You can also find out more about doctoral funding on our fees and funding page.

Each of our research programme pages has an 'apply' button which will start your application.  

In the research interests section, include details of any discussions with supervisors, and a research proposal. If you are applying for a studentship to work on a particular project, you should enter the details of the specific project that you wish to apply for rather than your own research proposal. 

Make sure you include scanned colour copies of any relevant documentation that you need to provide. This may include: 

  • Scanned copies of signed/stamped qualifications with official English translations (certificates and transcripts) to show how you meet, or expect to meet, the entry requirements
  • Evidence of your English language level, if you are from a country where English isn't the first language
  • A copy of your passport, if you need a visa to study here 
  • A personal statement (where requested)
  • A research proposal (where requested).

You’ll need to provide contact details for two referees. 

You can track the progress of your application through our Surrey Self-Service portal (details will be sent to you on how to log in). 

The time it takes for you to receive a decision can vary. Avoid unnecessary delays by making sure you complete the application in full and attach all documentation. 

If you have any questions, please contact

Accept your offer in Surrey Self-Service.

You will then need to:

  • Pay your deposit/provide evidence of sponsorship
  • Apply for accommodation (if required)
  • 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.

Contact us

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Doctoral College
Fifth Floor, University Library
University of Surrey