Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Research towards a PhD requires a minimum of 36 months full-time work under the guidance of two supervisors. It is possible to work towards a PhD degree part-time in a minimum of 72 months.

Application forms

A copy of the application form and further information on appyling (including fees) can be obtained on the main university postgraduate study page:


We look for a proven ability to sustain independent research under supervision. Normally this will be in the form of a Master’s degree involving a dissertation.

Since in the British model of doctoral studies there is little formal coursework and the time available is limited to four years, we look for a reasonable degree of preparation in the necessary adjunct skills, including languages. Competence in academic writing in English is also essential.


With the application you will be asked to submit a written statement of proposed research (500-1000 words), laying out the question to be addressed and the rationale, the type of investigation and analysis expected (eg key texts and/or other data), the proposed broad approach, and the contribution that might be made from the research. A list of key works already read may be included. This proposal will be treated as provisional, allowing for the research to develop in new directions once it has been begun. The purpose is to enable academic staff to assess the preparedness of the applicant for PhD research and the suitability of staff to supervise the topic.

Applications must also be supported by a sample of research writing (in English) of about 5,000 words in a related area. This may be a piece of published work or work produced for an academic institution elsewhere.

Applicants deemed not yet adequately prepared for PhD work may be offered admission to a suitable masters programme.

Before making formal application, you are advised to contact a suitable member academic staff in order to explore a possible research topic.

The school of Divinity has a number of research areas in which PhD students may want to concentrate. Please see the research centres and subject area pages for further information.

On admission students are assigned a primary and secondary supervisor.

During the first year they will explore the area of research and refine the proposal. At the end of nine to twelve months a draft of a chapter or a part-chapter will be submitted for discussion at a Review Board together with a developed proposal for the whole thesis.

The only formal course requirement is Approaches to Research in Divinity/Religious Studies.

Exceptionally, arrangements may be made for you to take a more suitable research methods course in another department (History or Sociology, for example).

Within not more than twelve months of commencing PhD work, candidates are required to meet a 'Review Board', and present it with a developed thesis proposal, including a full bibliography, and a sample draft chapter or equivalent.

On the basis of progress up to that point and the prospects for the research the Review Board will make a recommendation on the continuation of studies, for which the student may be confirmed in Ph.D status or re-registered for the M.Phil.


There are several scholarships funds from which awards are made on a competitive basis to strong applicants. Awards can range from partial to full fees, and even a substantial contribution toward living expenses.

On admission to a PhD programme in the School of Divinity applicants are automatically considered for a School of Divinity scholarship. Separate application is required for other sources based in the University, usually through the College of Humanities and Social Sciences or the International Office. To be eligible for these you must first have received an offer of admission.

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