PhD students complete an independent research project under the guidance of a supervisory team. The research is normally completed over a maximum period of 3.0-3.5 years (full-time) or 6.0-6.5 years (part-time/distance learning).
A fourth year (full-time) or seventh year (part-time/distance learning) or the remaining part of this can be used to prepare the thesis for examination. The thesis should not normally exceed 80,000 words and must make an original contribution to knowledge and contain work of publishable quality. The thesis must then be defended in a viva voce (oral) examination before a degree can be awarded.
The research project is led by the research student. At Leicester, each of of our PhD and MPhil students has a supervisory team who are there to provide guidance and read and comment on draft work - but the ultimate responsibility for planning and managing the research project rests with the research student.
The research project is then written up as a thesis - usually of 50,000 to 80,000 words depending on the discipline. Again, responsibility for writing and submitting the thesis rests with the research student, but the supervisory team provide guidance and read and comment on draft chapters to help ensure the thesis is of an appropriate standard.
Finally, to be awarded a research degree research students must defend their thesis in a "viva voce" (spoken) examination. The viva voce examination is an intense and challenging experience, but we offer workshops and mock examinations to help our research students prepare and almost all research students who reach this stage go on to successfully complete their degree.
In the UK all higher education institutions are required to follow standards set by the national Quality Assurance Agency. They have produced a short guide on UK doctorate programmes and international applicants in particular may find this helpful in understanding what makes UK doctorates distinctive.
We think a university should be about empowering people to explore; through passionate, dedicated teaching and innovative, world-changing research. By embracing the fact that every journey is personal, the University has achieved some remarkable results.
At Leicester we think that high quality research and excellent teaching are not only complementary, they’re inseparable. We are constantly finding new ways of being a leading university, and have done so since we were founded as a University College in 1921. Find out about some of our greatest discoveries.
We are the only university to win seven consecutive Times Higher Awards. In awarding us 'University of the Year', Times Higher Education applauded Leicester’s very different approach, describing us as “elite without being elitist”.
We were proud to be described as elite. But we were equally as proud to be described as a university that is inclusive and accessible in its academic culture. We've achieved success through our distinctive work which is characterised by the following approach:
An inclusive and accessible culture
Our commitment to an inclusive and accessible culture not only opens the doors to the very best, no matter their background, it even shapes the very way we look at and discover the world around us. Leicester is the most inclusive of Britain's top 20 leading universities with the greatest proportions of students from under-represented groups.
A personal, supportive experience for those who use our services
The University of Leicester was founded as a memorial to the fallen of the Great War and our motto means “So that they may have life”. We seek to do this by providing a supportive and personal environment for those who use our services and an experience that our students tell us is second to none.
A commitment to high quality, innovation and rigorous academic standards
We are dedicated to finding new ways of doing old things and bringing new perspectives to established ideas, without compromising on quality and while maintaining our high rankings.
A belief that teaching and research are synergistic
We believe that teaching is inspirational when delivered by passionate scholars engaged in world changing research - and that our research is stronger when delivered in an academic community that includes students - students who question and probe us every day.
You can apply until:
Always verify the dates on the programme website.
You only need to take one of these language tests:
The IELTS – or the International English Language Test System – tests your English-language abilities (writing, listening, speaking, and reading) on a scale of 1.00–9.00. The minimum IELTS score requirement refers to which Overall Band Score you received, which is your combined average score. Read more about IELTS.Take IELTS test
StudyPortals Tip: The UK government has confirmed new English-language testing requirements for visa and immigration purposes. Learn more
The TOEFL – or Test Of English as a Foreign Language – offers an internet-based test (iBT). The final, overall iBT score ranges between 0 and 120, and includes a scaled average from the four components (reading, listening, speaking, and writing). Read more about TOEFL (iBT).
1. Make sure we offer PhD/MPhil supervision in the area in which you want to work - search our staff research interests
2. Draft a research proposal that tells us what you want to research, how you intend to do it, and why it is worth doing
3. Prepare your supporting documents - with your application you need to include proof that you meet the academic and English language entry requirements:
4. Submit your online application or apply by post
This is an online programme. You don’t need a visa to study in this programme.
Studying by distance learning gives a clear signal to employers that you are committed to developing your skills and knowledge. Your employer may be willing to fund all or part of your course if you are able to show the key benefits to their business. Some of these benefits are detailed below:
Distance learning allows you to develop your skills without taking time out of the workplace
You will be able to apply your new skills into your roles immediately
The skills you develop will include; complex problem solving; communication skills; creative and strategic thinking; time management; and decision making.
There are many different ways that your employer may provide support, from fully or partially paying your tuition fees to offering you study time or additional leave days. The form your sponsor will need to complete, together with further information can be found on our Finance Office website. If you are seeking, or have gained, sponsorship from your employer please mention this when you make your application.
ELCAS funding for members of the Armed Forces
We are an approved provider for the Ministry of Defence Enhanced Learning Credit Scheme (ELCAS) for armed forces personnel and all of our distance learning courses are available under this scheme.
If you are a current or former member of the UK armed forces then you may be eligible for ELCAS funding. Please check their website for full details or contact your Education Officer. If you are seeking, or have gained ELCAS funding, please mention this when you make your application.
Professional and Career Development Loans
Professional and Career Development Loans (CDLs) are offered by a consortium of major banks for students on vocational courses only.
You can borrow between £300 and £10,000 towards tuition and/or living expenses for a course over a period of up to two years study (three years if the course includes work experience). The bank will usually take between six weeks and three months to process your application - so make sure you apply well in advance.
The Skills Funding Agency will pay the interest on your Professional and Career Development Loan while you’re studying - and for one month after you’ve left your course.
For an application pack or for any enquiries relating to Professional and Career Development Loans, please call Next Step on 0800 100 900. Further information can be found on the Directgov website. If you are seeking, or have gained CDL funding, please mention this when you make your application.
Research Councils are public bodies which provide awards for postgraduate research study for students from the UK and fees only support for EU students. Each is responsible for a particular group of subject areas. Only the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) currently consider applications from individual students.
International (non-EU) funding
If you live outside the EU, try contacting your government's Ministry of Education for details of scholarships or loans. The British Council, the UK's international organisation for educational and cultural matters, has offices in 110 countries and can advise on sources of funding. You may want to visit Education UK’s section on scholarships for more information.
There also a number of charities and foundations you may want to consider contacting regarding funding. A few notable foundations are the Aga Khan Foundation, the African Educational Trust and the Said Foundation. A list of organisations can be found on the Postgraduate Studentships website.
In the case of students from the USA, overseas distance learning programmes are no longer eligible for Federal loans or VA (Veterans Association) funding. Students may apply for loans from a private provider. One of the largest is SallieMae, and several of our former and existing students have used this route. There are, of course, many other providers of private loans for the purposes of education. Private loan companies usually require the education provider to have a 'Federal School Code': the University of Leicester’s code is G22291.
StudyPortals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.
Testimonial Registration Module
Together with the ISIC Association and British Council IELTS, StudyPortals offers you the chance to receive up to £10000 to expand your horizon and study abroad. We want to ultimately encourage you to study abroad in order to experience and explore new countries, cultures and languages.