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Durham University

Learning and Teaching Handbook

8.1.3: Selection and Admission

Pre-entry Information

1. The University will make clear and accurate admissions information readily available to applicants and staff involved in the admissions process.

2. The University requires all departments to have at least two designated Postgraduate Admissions Advisers who must be academic members of staff. Each Postgraduate Admissions Adviser is required to undertake appropriate initial training on selection and admissions procedures and encouraged to undertake continued professional development.

3. The University will provide staff involved in the Admissions process with guidance on selection and admissions procedures.

4. Departments must provide clear, accurate and comprehensive pre-entry information to potential applicants. This should include:

  • information on research opportunities;
  • training;
  • resources;
  • completion times;
  • expectations and demands upon research students;
  • entry requirements;
  • admissions process;
  • financial information including information on funding opportunities and costs;
  • appropriate contacts.

5. The University requires all academic departments to have clearly defined admissions and selection criteria for each programme of study.

6. The University will publish clear and accurate information on postgraduate admissions on its website and in printed form.

7. The University will provide applicants with a declared medical condition or disability with appropriate information and a contact in Durham University Disability Support for Students with Disabilities (DS).

Entry Requirements

8. The University will normally admit only those students who meet the entry requirements as outlined in:

  • the Core Regulations for Research Degrees by Thesis or Composition,
  • or the Core Regulations for Doctor of Philosophy with Integrated Studies,
  • or the Core Regulations for Professional Doctorates.
  • and/or the Programme Regulations for Research Degrees by Thesis or Composition,

Exceptions to this are dealt with by concession as considered by the relevant Chair of the Faculty Education Committee (PG).

9. The University requires all applicants to submit the names of two referees, normally academic referees, who can comment knowledgeably upon their suitability to undertake research in the relevant field.


10. The University requires academic departments to operate rigorous selection policies and procedures.

11. The criteria for selection should be put in writing. They should include:

  • evidence of the suitability of the candidate to undertake research in the relevant field, including, where appropriate, proficiency in the English language;
  • evidence of the suitability of the candidate to undertake a research project in the proposed field of study within the allotted time span;
  • evidence of the availability of a supervisory team which is qualified to supervise the candidate in the research project;
  • evidence of the availability of resources to support the candidate's research project to a successful conclusion.

12. During the application process students who will not reside in commuting distance of their place of learning will be required to demonstrate to the satisfaction of departmental admissions staff that they will have appropriate access for the duration of their studies to library, computing and other resources and research facilities required to successfully undertake their programme of research.

13. The University requires that all academic departments maintain up-to-date selection policies.

14. All decisions related to the admissions of applicants to Postgraduate Research Degree programmes will normally be taken by the Supervisor(s) and a Departmental Postgraduate Admissions Adviser.


15. The Academic Office will issue the formal offer letter to applicants which contains information on the postgraduate research programme, the fees, the field of study, the plan of study and arrangements for supervision. This formal offer letter will be supplemented by an offer booklet containing a range of general information on postgraduate study at Durham.