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Durham University

School of Education

Application Process

Study by research is a very personal and individual way of developing your academic and professional knowledge and qualifications.

This is why the process of application has to be individualised and personal.

To make sure that your application has the best chance of success you must complete the online Postgraduate form and upload all the required documents, as your application cannot be considered without them.

There are four separate steps to the application process for research degrees:

Step one: Identifying potential supervisors

We are keen to receive PhD applications in the areas in which we have specialist expertise. You can check how your research interests and approach relate to those of our potential supervisors by reading their profiles, and the topics of their supervisees, on the School of Education's staff web pages.

Once you have found two potential supervisors, you should nominate them both (the preferred one first) on the supporting documents section of the online form.

Step two: Eligibility criteria including English language requirements

  • You will normally be expected to hold a Master's degree at 2:1 level (merit) or equivalent and should be able to demonstrate proficiency in research methods. The latter is most usually demonstrated by the successful completion of a taught Master's degree that includes substantial research methods training. If you do not possess such a degree, you may be interested in registering for our one of our Masters Programmes from which you may be able to progress to PhD study.
  • Exemption from the research training requirements may be granted only on the grounds of very clear evidence that a candidate has completed comparable research training elsewhere or has engaged in extensive, wide-ranging and high quality education research activity, usually reflected in a record of publication.
    • If you have already completed a degree programme within the last 2 years of the proposed start date where English was the language of instruction, it may be possible to use this as evidence of your English language proficiency, in lieu of a language test
    • If English is not your first language, you will need to demonstrate at application stage satisfactory English proficiency by taking an English Language Proficiency Test. The British Council Internal English Language Testing System (IELTS) is our preferred test and can be taken in most countries. Our IELTS requirement is an overall score of at least 7.0 with no element under 6.5. If you have one or more element of 6.0 you may still apply but you would be expected to take an English pre-sessional course.
    • If you have not taken one of the above tests, you should arrange to do so without delay. If your language proficiency falls below the standards stated above, an offer may still be made, but it will be conditional upon you completing an intensive English course at the University's English Language Centre and being able to demonstrate that you have reached a level of English appropriate to your course, e.g. IELTS or a satisfactory written report provided by the Unviersity's English Language Centre. The University's English Language Centre runs pre-sessional courses, for which application forms are available directly from the English Language Centre.

Note: Attending pre-sessional courses does not guarantee automatic entry.

Step three: Durham University formal application

You must complete the Durham University on-line application form with the following attached documents:

  • CV (no more than two pages which should be focused on your academic, professional achievements and aligned to your research topic).
  • Scanned Master’s degree certificate and transcript (2:1, merit or equivalent) or if not yet completed, evidence of module grades to date.
  • IELTS (or equivalent) certificate if non-English speaking. (needs to be overall 7.0 with no component below 6.5)
  • Research proposal of no more than 3,000 words
  • Two academic references

Step four: Interview/offer

You may at this stage be invited to attend an interview either in person or via Skype. If you are successful we will then make you an offer. This may include conditions such as completion of your Master’s degree.

In order to meet UKBA requirements, translations of degree certificates and transcripts must be issued by a professional translation organisation on official, headed paper and should include the following:

  • Details of the translator's credentials
  • Confirmation that it is an accurate translation of the original document
  • The translator's contact details
  • The translator's original signature and the date of translation
  • The award date of the qualification

All postgraduate applications our forwarded to us and will be considered as quickly as possible. If successful you will receive official notification of the outcome from the Student Recruitment and Admissions Office. We usually process applications within four to six weeks of receipt, although in some cases we do need to request further information. Successful applicants should ensure that they provide us with the required supporting documentation as soon as possible.

We have three starting dates a year:

  • January
  • April
  • October

As an alternative, you may want to consider our taught doctorate via our Doctor of Education (EdD) full time route or part time route.

Further information and useful websites on how to write a research proposal.

Please contact us if you have any queries or require any further information at ed.pgrstudents@durham.ac.uk