How to Apply for Research Courses

Finding the right Department or Specialist Research Institute

When you make an application for a PhD, MPhil or Doctorate of Public Health, you will need to identify the Department or Research Institute in which you wish to conduct your research. Before applying you must familiarise yourself with the research that is conducted at Brunel and decide where your own research would best fit.

You should also ensure that there are potential supervisors within the university with the appropriate interests and expertise to supervise your work.

Research at Brunel

Advice on your application

Department and Specialist Research Institutes at Brunel publish information and advice for research applicants on their websites. Many research areas will also publish specific guidelines on preparing a research proposal to submit with your application.

If you have identified a potential research supervisor at Brunel, it can be useful to contact them informally prior to making your application. They may be able to give more specific advice for your own discipline and some may be willing to comment on a draft research proposal. General contacts for enquiries can also be found on individual Department and Institute websites.

Preparing your research proposal

Most Department and Institutes require a research proposal, usually between 1000 and 2000 words, as part of the application process. Many issue specific guidance on what should be included and this should be followed carefully. Typically you might be expected to describe the context of the work (academic background and why the research is needed), define the aims and objectives of the work, and describe how you will approach the research (research methods to be used, rough plan of work).

Online application is available for most research degrees. You will need to register to use the system prior to making your application.

Entry Requirements

Applicants with a UK first or second class honours degree or a Master's degree (or a recognised equivalent from an overseas university) may be registered for a PhD. An appropriate level of English language competence is also expected. An applicant with certain alternative qualifications may be registered for the degree of PhD "subject to confirmation". Candidates not meeting the normal entrance requirements above may be considered for registration for the degree of MPhil. It is quite common for students to be registered initially for an MPhil and to then have their status as a PhD student confirmed after successful completion of the first year.

The Senate reserves the right to assess the eligibility of applicants on an individual basis.

Documents needed for application

When you access the system, you will be given the opportunity to submit electronically the documents shown in the table below. These supporting documents can alternatively be posted to the Admissions Office (clearly referencing your application reference number, which will be emailed to you when you save or complete the online application).





An academic transcript for each previous degree you have completed

We can accept a scanned copy of your transcript if applying online, however you must bring the original with you when you register. If your transcript is not in English you will also need to provide a verified English translation..

Reference 1

An academic reference from the academic institution you most recently attended

It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that references are supplied. These should be on headed paper and signed by the referee.

Reference 2

A second academic reference or a reference from your current or most recent employer

See above.

Sponsorship details

A copy of paperwork confirming the award of sponsorship

Only applies to those in receipt of sponsorship or other grant. Examples might include a letter from a Government agency or an employer.

English language qualification

Any relevant certificates for language qualifications (eg IELTS, TOEFL)

English language requirements for each course are listed on the course page. Find out which English language qualifications we accept.


A copy of your passport 

Only applies to applicants from outside the EU we need a copy of details page of your passport, (including personal information and date and place of issue)

Personal statement

A brief personal statement in support of your application

Typically this will be a brief explanation of why you want to pursue a research degree at Brunel University London. It can be uploaded as an attachment if you already have an electronic copy or it can be typed directly into the online form later in the process.


Any relevant certificates

This includes any certificates you consider relevant to your application (not already submitted under transcripts or language qualifications).

Other documents

Any other relevant documentation

This includes any additional information which you consider relevant to your application, for example a Curriculum Vitae.

Research proposal

A description of your proposed research

See guidance on ‘preparing your research proposal’ above.

During the next phase of the online application process, you will be able to access the online application form itself. Make sure you have the following information to hand:

  • Personal details
  • Academic qualifications (level, subject, where studied, results, year taken)
  • Work experience details (name of organisations, start and end dates)

If you find that you don’t have the required information at any stage, you can save your progress and exit the online application process and then resume it later.

Start dates

The main intake dates for research degrees are at the start of October and January. Many research students find that it is most convenient to commence their studies at the start of October, since this is date on which annual re-enrolments take effect for research degrees. However, on most programmes it is possible to register from the first of any month (and then re-enrol from the following October). The exception is degrees with a substantial taught component (for example the Professional Doctorates and Brunel Integrated PhD (New Route)) where you may be required to start in October (or exceptionally January) in order to fit around the taught programme delivery. Check course descriptions for any particular requirements for your programme.

Page last updated: Friday 16 January 2015