Postgraduate study

PhD degree structure

A PhD will normally take three years of full time study, culminating in the submission of a thesis.

Length of programme

The period of study is 36 months (3 years) full-time, or 72 months (6 years) if the programme is offered on a part-time basis.

Non-EU students are not normally eligible for part-time study due to UKVI restrictions.

Start dates

Candidates for research degrees in certain subject areas may start their programme at any time of the year. Please contact your PhD supervisor for more information on start dates.

Progression and assessment

Your progress is assessed each year.

During the first year of study you will acquire the specialist background to your projected research, and develop the skills appropriate to research in that field.


You will progress to using your skills for your specialised research project, and you will submit the outcome of this research as a thesis. The doctorate is awarded if the thesis is judged to be of an appropriate standard and the research makes a definite contribution to knowledge.

Students within some subject areas - including film, fine art and music - will need to incorporate an element of creative practice as part of their assessment, as well as writing their thesis.

Early exit

Some students who do not progress beyond their probationary year may be eligible to be awarded an MPhil.

Some programmes allow you to register for an MPhil from the outset. Check the programme listing on our Degree Finder to find out, or contact your PhD supervisor.