Frequently asked questions - How to apply

If I send my CV (resume) directly to you, will you admit me?

No.

We are not able to consider an applicant's suitability or eligibility without a complete application, including all the supporting documents.

If you want to be considered for admission you must submit an application using the EUCLID system.

Is there an application fee?

No, we do not charge a fee for you to apply for admission.

Is there an application deadline?

You can apply at any time. However, to be considered for funding, you need to apply within the appropriate funding round; an early application is particularly important for overseas (non-EU) applicants. See the current funding round deadlines here:

Does submitting an application mean I am automatically considered for funding/scholarships?

No. You need to check possible sources of funding here:

For some funding sources (particularly DTA and DTC studentships) you can indicate directly on your EUCLID application form that you wish to be considered for these awards. For many other funding sources you will need to make a separate application. Sometimes these will have different deadlines to our application deadlines.

I need to address my application to one of your research institutes. Which one should I pick?

Consult the following information about each of the institutes to learn about their work:

If you have chosen a research topic from the following web page, then pick the institute corresponding to the person who proposed the topic.

Information about other topics of interest to potential supervisors may be found in our research directory:

I am interested in two institutes / two topics. Which one should I pick?

Pick the one that seems most appropriate and mention prominently at the top of your research proposal that you are also interested in topic X / in institute Y.

What documents do you need in support of my application?

When you make an application online, via EUCLID, you would normally also upload:

  • A degree certificate and academic transcript for each degree you currently hold, or an interim transcript for degrees you are currently studying.
  • If your first language is not English, a language certificate showing evidence of your proficiency in English (see details below).
  • Two signed letters of reference (on headed paper). Alternatively, you can indicate in your application that you want the University to contact your referees to ask them to upload their references.
  • For Research degrees only (PhD, MScby Research and MPhil): a research proposal (see details below).

You may also upload additional supporting documents that you think will help us to assess your application. If you do not have all these documents to hand when you complete the online application form, you can submit your online application without them and you will be asked to provide them later in the application process. However, you should note that we cannot consider your application for admission until all the documents noted above have been received.

What if I don't have my degree certificate yet?

EUCLID may automatically ask you to provide your degree certificate but if your studies are not yet complete you will not be able to provide this. We can still consider your application without the certificate, so this will not delay processing. However, if your application is successful, your offer of admission will be conditional on you providing the certificate as soon as it becomes available, i.e., once you complete your degree. Meanwhile, you should include your interim academic transcript so we can assess your current progress towards your degree.

What is an academic transcript, and how do I obtain it? What is an interim transcript?

An academic transcript is a list of all courses taken, all grades received, all honours awarded and degrees conferred.

An interim transcript provides similar information for degrees you are yet to complete (it may also show the expected grade or level of award if you are near the end of the programme of study).

The transcript is usually issued by the Registrar/Registry (or equivalent) of the relevant institution.

If the transcript is not in English you will also need to submit a certified translation (see next question).

What if my documents are not in English?

Where your original degree certificate, academic transcript, or other relevant documents are not in English you must provide an officially certified translation. This means:

  • a translation certified as accurate by the institution that issued the certificate or transcript OR
  • a translation certified as accurate by the British Council, a British Embassy or Consulate OR
  • a translation certified as accurate by a professional translation service or an authorised agent of the University of Edinburgh

What evidence of proficiency in English do you require?

If English is not your first language then you must submit a copy of a recent English language test certificate (not more than two years old at the proposed date of admission) or provide details of when you are going to take the test. Note that any offer of a place will be conditional on you obtaining a required score on this test:

What is a Research Proposal?

When you apply for a research degree (PhD, MPhil or MSc by Research) you will be asked to indicate a proposed topic of study, and to submit a research proposal describing your proposed research topic in more detail. This would normally be 1-2 pages long (and cannot be uploaded if it exceeds 4MB). What you write here is not binding on what you will finally study, but will give us a useful impression of your background, interests and ideas. It is very important in assessing your application, and potential supervisors will be looking at your proposal for evidence that you have an appropriate background knowledge for the topic area and your own ideas about how research on that topic should best be taken forward. If you have not yet decided on a precise area of study, please tell us about areas of Informatics that you find most interesting and why, in as much detail as possible. Note that if you have contacted a potential supervisor before you make your application, they may be willing to advise you in the preparation of your research proposal. Also see this advice on how to write a proposal

What does 'first or upper second class honours degree or its equivalent' mean?

The University of Edinburgh requires all postgraduate research students to hold at least a first or upper second class honours degree or its equivalent before they can be admitted to a higher degree.

A first class honours degree is typically achieved by about 10% of candidates and an upper second class honours degree is typically achieved by approximately the next 30% of candidates.

We take the ranking of the university at which you studied into account in determining whether or not your degree is equivalent to a first or upper second class honours degree in the UK.

We will normally reject applications from candidates whose degrees are not of this standard, in the absence of highly relevant work or other experience. Note that this is a minimum standard, and a higher standard may be needed for your application to be competitive for admission or funding.

Do I need a Master's degree to apply for a PhD?

No.

We may however suggest to some applicants that they study for a Master's degree before coming to do a PhD, if we consider that additional preparation is necessary.

Also, some funding sources (for instance some Engineering and Physical Science Research Council awards) provide four years of funding covering an MSc followed by a PhD.

How is my application handled?

Applications are first checked for completeness: you may be asked to provide missing information. They are then assessed by at least two academic staff members within the Institute to which you have applied. You may be invited for interview or interviewed by phone at this stage. Usually, a first decision is made about admission: students can potentially be admitted if they meet our high academic standards and a staff member is willing to act as their supervisor. Students eligible for admission are then further considered for funding; in general, we cannot offer funding to all admissible students but try to fund as many admissible students as possible. Admission decisions will be communicated to you through the EUCLID system; most funding decisions will be communicated to you informally by email and formally by an ‘offer’ letter. We try to make most offers around March, but there can be many factors that delay a decision, in which case we will try to keep you informed about the status of your application.

I have received an offer from another university before hearing your decision, and I need to respond. What should I do?

We are sometimes able to make early offers to exceptional candidates, particularly those who have received an offer from elsewhere and need to respond before our offer is due. Please contact us if you are in that position. Expect us to take a few days to come to a decision.

I am applying for external funding, and I need an offer from you to apply, but have not yet heard your decision. What should I do?

We are sometimes able to make early admission decisions for applicants who need this information to apply for funding. Please contact us if you are in that position.

You have accepted me as a PhD student, but the letter says that you cannot yet offer funding. What does that mean?

We may let you know about your admission status before we have made the funding decision. If a funding decision has been made, the offer letter should clearly state either the source of funding, OR that you are expected to fund yourself. If it does not state either, then the decision has not been made, and a further letter concerning funding will follow. In the meantime, you might well be able to use the offer of admission to apply for alternative sources of funding yourself.

You have accepted me as a PhD student, but the letter says that you expect me to be self-funding. Can I assume I will find funding once I arrive?

No. When you accept a self-funded place, you are agreeing to fully cover the costs of study, which are clearly set out in advance, from your own resources. If we have not offered funding, our decision is not subject to revision.

May I transfer to the University of Edinburgh from another university?

Under certain, rare, circumstances it may be possible to arrange for you to transfer from another institution and for you to complete your PhD at the University of Edinburgh. You should apply in the normal way, via EUCLID, and contact us to explain your circumstances. When an application for transfer is accepted, the amount of "credit" allowed for study elsewhere is determined on a case-by-case basis

What about "distance learning"?

We do not currently offer MSc degrees on a “distance learning basis”. PhD study involves you conducting a major research project under supervision, with little or no formal coursework. For this to work, the maintenance of close contacts between the supervisor and the student is essential. Therefore the University of Edinburgh requires students to be resident in Edinburgh or nearby for most of the period of PhD studies and "distance learning" is not an option. There are circumstances in which it makes sense for students to spend considerable periods elsewhere. One example might be if the student's research project involves use of facilities at another research institute. Under all circumstances it will be necessary to maintain close personal contact with the supervisor.

Does it help to send you email every day asking about the progress of my application?

No, please don't. We will of course try to be polite and will reply to reasonable questions. We will contact you by email when we need information from you.

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