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PhD Application Process

How to apply

PhD Application Process

Marie Coleman and student

Deciding to progress into postgraduate research is a big step, and we know that the road to submitting your application can be long. To ensure you know what to expect when applying to study with us here at Queen’s, we have put together a simple step-by-step guide to the application process.

Choosing your PhD

As part of the Russell Group, Queen’s is proud to be one of the UK’s leading research universities offering PhD opportunities across a wide variety of disciplines. By studying at Queen’s, you will be joining a community whose work has an impact on lives across the world.

We want to ensure our students have the freedom and flexibility to carry out high-quality research. At this stage of the application journey, you need to consider which research degree is right for you and whether you want to study on a full or part-time basis.

Find out more about the different postgraduate degree types


Check the entry requirements

Every programme will have general entry requirements which you must meet to be accepted. Some of our PhD programmes require an undergraduate degree along with relevant professional experience, while others require a master's degree. 

The entry requirements as well as important details for each programme can be found within the course information.

If you are an international student, you will also need to meet our English language requirements. If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter one of our degree programmes, INTO Queen’s University Belfast offers a range of English language courses.

Choosing your research topic or projects

Whether you are applying for one of our pre-defined projects or a doctoral training programme, you will be required to provide a statement explaining your experience and why you are suitable for working in that area.

If you decide to propose a research area, you will be expected to draft a research proposal.

How to write a research proposal

Finding a supervisor

If you decide to develop your own research project, you need to find a supervisor at Queen’s who would be interested in supervising you.

We would recommend using our Find a Supervisor directory which provides contact information for each of our staff. Once you have found a supervisor who matches your research idea, reach out to them to see if they are open to doctoral applications and have the capacity to supervise you.

During the application process, you can highlight a member of our faculty you want to have as your supervisor, or we can help match you with a supervisor during the assessment stage.

Find out more information on how to find a supervisor match.

Check deadlines

We accept applications for PhD study throughout the year and we can offer varied start dates.

If you are applying for a pre-defined project in your field, then each project will have a different closing date.

Scholarships are also available through the university, and you will usually need to apply to study with us before applying for a scholarship or funding.

Submitting your application

To apply for any postgraduate research programme, you need to use our online application portal.

At the application stage, you will need to provide the following:

  • Personal details
  • Details of your education to date
  • Indication of your funding plans
  • Your research proposal
  • Proof of your English language levels if English is not your first language – find out more about our English language requirements.
  • Names and contact details of two referees – one of which should be an academic reference from the institution you most recently studied at
  • The name or names of your intended supervisors
  • Date you plan to start

Degree transcripts must be submitted in complete sets with the final degree qualification in English and the original language if applicable.

What happens next?

When we receive your application, we may need to contact you for more information to help progress your application to the next stage – this is nothing to worry about. As part of the application process, some programmes will require you to attend an interview. 

We aim to give you a decision on your application as soon as possible. Please ensure you have submitted the required documentation in full to prevent any delays. Once a decision has been made, we will prompt you to log into the application portal.

If you're an international student we will issue your Confirmation of Acceptance Statement (CAS) when you have provided the required documents and paid the relevant deposits. CAS details will not be issued earlier than six months before the start of your degree programme. More information on student visas and immigration.

Accepting your offer to Queen’s University

If you have been successful, we will make you an offer and you should aim to accept or decline your offer through our application portal as soon as you can.

Conditional offers: If you receive a conditional offer, it means the offer is made contingent on meeting specific requirements and conditions before acceptance into the course.

Unconditional offers: If you happen to receive an unconditional offer, this means you have met all the requirements, and we are offering you a place.

If you decide that you no longer want to study at Queen’s University and want to withdraw your place, please contact: