School of GeoSciences

Application process

A step-by-step guide to applying for a research degree in the School of GeoSciences

PhD/MScR applications at the School of Geosciences 

Please read this guidance carefully before applying for one of our research degrees.

Important aspects of a successful application

Satisfying entry requirements

Before making an online application, you need to satisfy the entry requirements. For entry to PhD degrees, these are normally a 2:1 Honours degree or above in a discipline relevant to the programme for which you are applying and/or relevant work experience. 

You can find general information on entry requirements here. If you have questions regarding the specific programme you are interested in, you should go to the degree finder to check the entry requirements as they differ between programmes. 

You must also demonstrate a level of English language competency that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence. English language requirements are detailed on the Degree Finder pages of each of our programmes. If you have booked an English Language test and have yet to take it or receive your results, you can apply and provide this information at a later date.

If you are applying for a specific project, additional entry requirements might be detailed in the project description.

You can contact the GeoSciences PGR Admissions team at if you have any questions. 

Your Project

Any research will need a project idea. This could be based on you or your supervisor’s idea. Alternatively, the project idea could be jointly developed between you and your supervisor. The School of Geosciences regularly publishes a list of projects that could form the basis of a scholarship application. If you are interested in a specific project, you should contact the potential supervisor to signal your interest in the project. If you would like to work on a self-designed project or have an initial project idea but not a fully worked out project plan, you would need to get in touch with members of staff to find a potential supervisor. If you would like to undertake multidisciplinary research, it will be helpful to talk to more than one potential supervisor. The aim of the discussion between you and the supervisor(s) is to agree on the final project, allowing you to write the research proposal.

Information about how you can find a supervisor is available from this page-

Please note that applications will not be processed if no supervisor is identified. 

Your Application

Once the project design is completed you should prepare and submit your application. As part of the application you will need to provide all the following elements (exceptions are indicated):

- Personal statement (of no more than 500 words highlighting the relationship between yourself, your proposed project and the specific funding scheme your are applying to. Guidance can be  found here- This should go in the 'Personal statement' field of the application form.

- A self-worded project proposal (including references, the proposal should not exceed 4 pages- A4, font size 11, Arial or another sans serif typeface of equivalent size to Arial 11). Applications with proposals exceeding 4 pages will be rejected. A proposal is not needed if you are applying for an existing project written by a supervisor. Guidance on how to write a good proposal can be found here-

- Your Curriculum Vitae should be uploaded as a document. Note that there is no dedicated CV upload field in the application form, you can upload this with your research proposal. 

- Academic Transcripts (you will also need translated versions in case they have not been in issued in English).

- Copies of your degree(s)/ diploma certificate(s), if you have already completed your qualification (you will also need translated versions in case they have not been in issued in English)

- Contact details of two Academic referees: If you provide these when making your onine application, your referees will receive automated emails requesting a reference for you and providing guidance about how it can be uploaded to our system. Note that references should come from professional emails (i.e. not Gmail or Yahoo, etc.).

If you upload reference letters yourself then these should be on headed paper, signed, and dated not older than two years from the start of the programme for which you are applying. 

- English Language (if required): the English language requirements vary between different degrees (see link to degree finder above).

The various funding opportunities available can be found here-

Your application to one of our degree programmes has to be made via our EUCLID system. You can do this by following this link to postgraduate studies within the School of GeoSciences and selecting the correct programme and programme start date. 

Assessment of your application

Role of your supervisor

Supervisors are crucial for a successful PhD/MScR. They will provide guidance, feedback and help during your PhD/MScR project. It is important that you aim to liaise with them before submitting your application. This will allow you to discuss the project and it will help you to get to know each other. Your supervisor will also be important in deciding on your application to join Edinburgh University as a PhD/MScR student.

Should you be invited for an in-person interview in Edinburgh, your supervisor will meet with you on the day of your interview for a continued discussion of the project. Up to £100 are paid toward travel expenses.

Due to the different nature of the various combinations of funding and project type, the assessment procedures differ.


There are a number of ways to start a PhD or MScR project with us. 

Within the group of funded scholarships these sources are available at the School of Geosciences:

  • PhD studentships in the National Environmental Research Council (NERC) funded Edinburgh, Earth, Ecology and Environment Doctoral Training Programme (E4 DTP) Please note that the E4 DTP has a distinct E4 DTP application procedure and specific deadline for applications (usualy early January), see the E4 DTP website for details. 
  • PhD studentships via the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) DTP
  • Internal Scholarships, e.g.  the Principal’s Career development PhD scholarships (PCDS) or the Edinburgh Global Research Scholarship (EGRS)

  • Alternatively, there is the option to apply for a self-funded project. Note that if you are planning to self-fund your studies, the PGR admissions team will require evidence of your ability to do so. 


The following figure illustrates the various routes in relation to funding types, source of the project idea and principles of the assessment phase (stippled arrows indicate rarely used pathways) for the various routes for a PhD/MScR project.

Start-up of a PhD/ MScR Project
Start-up of a PhD/ MScR Project