.

Research Degree Programmes - How to Apply

It's great that you're considering completing a research degree programme here at Aston. The tabs below contain all the information you need to make your application. 

Before submitting, it is very important that you read this information, as it will help you to prepare your application and submitting documentation. 

If you have any problems or concerns with your application, you can contact the EAS Postgraduate Research Admissions team at seasres@aston.ac.uk

Good luck! 

Academic Entry Requirements


You should have been awarded, or expect to achieve, a first or upper second class Honours degree or a Master’s degree in a relevant subject (or an equivalent qualification from an overseas institution). 

Some school funded projects may have specific academic requirements, and details of these will be included in the project advert. Details of our current projects can be found here.

Please provide transcripts of the marks you have already achieved with your application.  If your qualification is suitable and your grades are good, we would normally accepted this as providing evidence of your research potential.

We also consider applicants who have substantial and significant work experience in a relevant field. 

English Language Entry Requirements 


Non-native speakers of English are normally required to satisfy the following minimum English language requirements:

  • TOEFL IBT: 93 (23 in Writing, 19 in Speaking, 18 in Reading and 19 in Listening) 
  • IELTS:   6.5 (6.0 in Writing Speaking, Reading and Listening).
  • Pearsons English language test: 63 with no less than 57 in each band.

 Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course.

For applicants from non-English speaking countries, it is necessary to have taken either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the British Council IELTS test. However, if the Candidate holds a Bachelor or Master's degree from a UK University, this requirement may be waived. Please contact the school for further information.

If you do not have a valid English language qualification this will be requested as a condition of any offer that is issued.

It is important that you clearly describe your area of research interest.  This enables us to match you with potential supervisors or research groups more easily. You will be required to submit a research proposal for the project you are interested in, however your final research activity will be defined in consultation with your supervisors.

A good research proposal is one of the most important aspects of your application.  This should confirm the quality of your ideas, your ability to think originally and critically, to ensure that you really have understood the depth of investigation that your doctoral research will entail, and that you have a good understanding of the key theories and relevant literature. When writing your proposal you should consider the following points:

  • A proposed title of the research topic
  • Overview of the research area - You should provide a brief abstract of your intended research topic.
  • Aim and development of the research problem – Demonstrate the practical importance of your research design and provide a brief but focused review of relevant research. In your review, highlight current thinking and research relating to the project and the gaps within this research.
  • Methodology - This section should demonstrate preliminary ideas about the project and how you intend to implement your research. You should specify and justify the approach you feel will be most appropriate.
  • Research planning and timelines - demonstrate your understanding of the need for planning and provide rough timelines detailing how you intended to structure your research.

 You are welcome to contact one of our academics to discuss your proposed project before making an application.  The research interests of all our academic staff can be found with each Research Group.

Without a clear project proposal we will not be able to proceed with your application, so please ensure you take time to provide a clearly defined project idea.

Please note that a personal statement is not acceptable as a project proposal.

It is important that you fully understand the requirements of a PhD. Information to help you plan your research and choose the right institution and supervisor can be found here.

In addition to your project proposal, please include the following supporting documents with your application form:

  • A copy of your current CV detailing all previous academic study, and full details of work experience.  Please do not leave any gaps in your CV as this may delay the processing of your application.
  • Transcripts and certificates for your Bachelor degree and Masters degree (if applicable). Please note: For overseas qualifications a translated copy of the transcript will be required.
  • Two academic references from your most recent academic institution, or details of two referees that you are happy for us to contact. If arranging your own references, please provide your referees with this Reference Form
  • If English is not your first language, your IELTS or TOEFL score (or test date if you have yet to sit the examinations)
  • Details of how you intend to fund your research; details of our course fees can be found here

 

We may not be able to reach a decision on your application if any of these documents are missing.

You can apply for a place at any time of the year, unless you are applying for a specific studentship or scholarship with a deadline. Research students can commence their studies on one of four dates each year:

  • 1 January
  • 1 April
  • 1 July
  • 1 October

Please apply as early as possible before your preferred start date to enable us to process your application in good time for your start date. 

This is particularly important for international students who need extra time to apply for their Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) and visa.

To submit an application you need to complete the on-line application process; details of this can be found here 

Before submitting an application please view the online application guidance notes here.

If you have any issues with the application process please email our IT helpdesk at isa_helpdesk@aston.ac.uk 

Please note: When progressing through the application form please use the hyperlinks/buttons at the bottom of each page and not your web browser back and forward buttons.

Successful Applications

Once we receive your application and associated documents, your application will be forwarded to possible supervisors in the relevant research group. At this point, a potential supervisor may contact you either to discuss your application or request more information prior to inviting you for an interview.  For overseas applicants this will be via Skype.

If you meet our criteria for admission and a supervisor in your chosen area of research is available, following the interview an offer letter will be sent to your correspondence address. If your offer is conditional, you will be required to fulfil these conditions prior to your enrolment.

Unsuccessful Applications

Applicants that are unsuccessful will be notified by email. The most common reasons for an applicant to be unsuccessful are that either you do not meet our entry criteria, or no-one suitable is available to supervise you at this moment in time. You may reapply at a later date if you have improved your qualifications, increased your knowledge of the research subject, or your research interests have changed.

University Admissions Policy

A copy of the University Admissions Policy, Guidelines and Procedures can be found here.  

If you have any queries about the application process please contact the EAS Postgraduate Research Admissions team at seasres@aston.ac.uk