Postgraduate study

How to find a research supervisor

Check that the University can provide a suitable supervisor to support you while you undertake your research.

We recommend that you get in touch informally with your prospective supervisor or, more generally, the relevant school, before you submit a formal application.

Some schools may ask that you submit a research proposal before you formally apply, but others prefer you to submit a formal application at first – you should check the information provided by the school or research institute offering the programme you are interested to find out how they would prefer you to contact them in the first instance.

Research supervisors are either staff members of the University, or based in one of the research units or institutions associated with the University.

Supervisors are in high demand and may not be able to respond to your enquiry immediately, so please be patient. Some may already be supervising the maximum number of PhD students they can, and won’t be able to take on any new students.

To find a potential supervisor:

  1. Find the school or research institute that is most relevant to your area of interest. If your proposed research is interdisciplinary, you may need to look at more than one school.

  2. Browse through the staff profiles on the school or institute website.
  3. Check the procedure for contacting the potential supervisor with your initial enquiry or research proposal.
  4. Check the availability of facilities and resources necessary for your research.
  5. If you can’t find this information, or if you have further questions, you should contact the school's administrator.

Multidisciplinary research

We welcome applications from students with interdisciplinary research interests.

You should contact supervisors in the areas you would like to research. You can discuss the possibility of being supervised collaboratively by people in different academic units.

The University of Edinburgh hosts a number of Global Academies, which facilitate interdisciplinary research across the world.

Global Academies

Research proposals

You will almost certainly need to write a research proposal in order to apply for your PhD.

Talk to your supervisor about whether you need to do this. You should also check the degree finder to see if you are expected to include anything specific in your proposal.

Our guide to writing a research proposal will take you through the process step-by-step:

How to write a research proposal