How to start your application

Ready to apply? Discover how to do so and the documents you'll need, here.

Apply via our online portal

Our online application portal is an easy way to manage your application. Once you have registered, you will be able to save, review and track your application’s progress.

The form consists of 11 sections and will take approximately 30 minutes to complete. You’ll need to provide your personal details, such as name and address, your nationality and how you plan to fund your studies. It is important that you use your full name in your application, as it appears in your passport or birth certificate. Information on why this is needed can be found in the student handbook.

You’ll also need to specify the type of programme you are applying for, ie a research programme, and select the department you wish to apply to from a dropdown menu. If applicable, you’ll also select which Centre for Doctoral Training you are applying to.

The form requires details of the qualifications you have studied so far, including your English language qualifications, and there’s a section to provide details of your work experience.

Documents you will need

We require references to support your application which will be followed up by the University directly with your referees. Colleagues from the appropriate academic school will contact your nominated referees at the point your application is being fully considered. One of these referees should be from your highest academic qualification.

We will need copies of:

  • an academic transcript of your undergraduate degree showing the modules studied and marks achieved
  • a copy of your degree certificate, if you have already graduated
  • a personal statement - this should explain your motivation for studying the programme, any relevant skills and experience you have (through studying or work), and your future career aspirations and how this programme will support you in achieving this. Remember to let your passion for the subject shine through!
  • your research proposal. This is only needed if you have developed your own research project or the advertised project asks you to include one in your application. Guidance on what to include in your proposal can be found here. If the advertised project does not ask you to include a research proposal with your application, you will not need to upload one.

You can attach these to your application by uploading them as attachments in the application portal.

Why do my documents have to be certified?

All documents submitted must be certified so we can be sure they are genuine. A certified document must be on official university headed paper and have at least one of the following:

  • a clear ink or impression stamp from the university that awarded the qualification
  • an address stamp of the university that is signed and dated by an official of the university
  • a stamp and signature of one of our registered overseas agents to confirm that they have seen the original document first hand.

If more than one page is submitted (for example, a degree certificate and one or more pages of a transcript), all separate pages must be certified in the same way.

We may refuse to accept a document as being genuine if we are not satisfied that it is certified correctly and we may ask you to provide another copy. We will not accept screen shots, online downloads or anything that is not on university headed paper as evidence of qualifications.

Haven't got your results yet?

Don't worry if you don't have all of your results yet; you can upload the documents you do have in the application portal and upload any outstanding documents when they are available.

What happens next?

We try to reach a decision as soon as possible and you can help with this by including as much information as you can within your application. We normally aim to respond to an application within six weeks.

Frequently asked questions

What is the deadline for applying?

For advertised projects, the application deadline will be stated on the listing. If you’d like to develop your own research project, you can apply in your own time.

When do research programmes start?

There are four available start dates for postgraduate research courses during the academic year:

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

What are the English language requirements? What can I do if I haven't fully met these yet?

All students are required to meet a minimum standard of English language ability and some departments require a higher minimum level. See our list of English language requirements for more information. 

There is no need for you to have completed your English language qualifications before you apply – most students are made offers conditional on achieving particular grades in their English language test.

If you have not fully met the English language requirements asked for in your offer, it is possible that the school/department may allow you to take one of our English language pre-sessional programmes.

Not all schools/departments will allow students to take an English language pre-sessional programme, so you should check the guidance carefully.

What are the entry requirements for international students?

The entry requirements for our postgraduate degrees are listed within the individual programme descriptions.

From here, you can select your country/region to see the equivalent grade boundaries. More information on postgraduate qualification equivalencies for international students can be found on the international entry requirements webpage.

If you cannot find your country/region in the drop-down list, please email us with copies of your qualifications.

All applicants must meet the minimum English language requirements. Further details are available on our International Office website.

I've completed my studies but haven't graduated yet

We realise that some universities don’t hold their graduation ceremonies until later in the year. We can accept a copy of your final transcript plus a letter from your university to confirm that you have completed your degree and giving your final grade. We call this an award letter and it replaces the degree certificate.

I'm applying via an agency – do I have to do anything differently?

Agents can provide advice and information on choosing a university and a programme, and help with practical aspects too, such as submitting your application and booking travel. You can find a list of the agents we work with on the educational advisors webpage.

You’ll apply to the university in the same way, you just need to tick a box to confirm you are using an agent and give us their contact details.

I have multiple names, which should I use in my application?

You should use your full name, as it appears in your passport or birth certificate. If you only have a single name, rather than a forename(s) and a surname, as is typical in the UK, you should enter this in both the forename and surname fields of your application. Further guidance can be found in our student handbook.

Is there an application fee?

No, there is no application fee.

What should I include in my personal statement?

The personal statement should explain your motivation for undertaking the research project, any relevant skills and experience you have (through studying or work), your future career aspirations and how this research project will support you in achieving this. Remember to let your passion for the subject shine through!

Do I need to write a research proposal?

This depends on the project you are applying for. If you would like to develop your own project, you will need to submit a research proposal with your application summarising the research you wish to undertake. Some advertised projects also require a research proposal and will state this on the listing.

Do I need to have identified a potential supervisor prior to applying?

For advertised projects, supervisors will already have been allocated. If you’re developing your own research project, we highly recommend that you identify a potential supervisor and work with them on your research proposal before submitting an application.

How can I find a potential supervisor for my PhD?

You may already know the name of the supervisor you are interested in working with, in which case you can search for their contact details on our website. If you need any help in finding individual contact details, please email us with the name and department of your preferred supervisor.

Alternatively, if you know the school/department you wish to work in but don’t have a particular supervisor in mind, you can find a supervisor on the school/department website, or contact the research administrator for the department – details are available on our website.

How are applications assessed?

We consider a range of factors when considering applications, including:

  • average marks, a GPA or final grade from prior degree-level studies (whether completed or still incomplete at time of applying)
  • marks or grades achieved for individual subjects or modules taken, particularly where they provide an important foundation for further study at postgraduate level
  • the ranking or reputation of your previous university
  • evidence of competence in English language
  • your personal statement
  • academic references from your current/previous university
  • for some programmes, work experience or a professional qualification may be required in addition to an academic qualification
  • for some programmes a portfolio, example of written work, or evidence of practical skills are required.

The grade equivalences listed should be interpreted as a general indication of the marks required to gain entry. Due to the range of factors considered when assessing an application, it is impractical to adhere to exact percentage requirements or equivalences between marks gained in different countries.

Do I require an interview to be made an offer for my PhD?

It’s important that you speak to your potential supervisors as part of the application process so you can ensure it’s the right option for you.

Most applicants will be invited for interview either in person, or via a video conference or telephone call.

Will I need an ATAS Certificate?

If you are not a UK national or settled in the UK and plan to undertake postgraduate study in the UK in certain science, engineering or technology subjects, you will need an ATAS certificate before you can apply for a visa or entry clearance. This will be clarified in your offer.

Find out more about ATAS certification.

What funding options are available for research students?

Some projects have attached funding, such as a Loughborough University or UK research council studentship, but if your doctoral degree does not have attached funding, there’s a range of options available.

Our Alumni Bursary offers a 20% discount on tuition fees to Loughborough alumni who are self-funding their research project.

For UK nationals ordinarily resident in England, you could borrow up to £27,265 to cover the cost of your PhD or equivalent research programme with the UK Government PhD Loan. This can be used to pay for tuition fees or living costs.

Other sources of funding are also available through independent organisations and external bodies, charities and trusts. 

To check whether you are eligible to apply for these or to view your other funding options, please visit our website.

To supplement your income during your studies, there’s a range of opportunities available. You could become a subwarden in one of our halls of residence or represent the University as a Student Ambassador. Both the University and the Students’ Union list several vacancies, whilst our Careers Network can provide advice on finding and obtaining part-time work.

Please note that if you will be studying on a student visa (also known as the Student Route), you must not exceed limits on the number of hours you are permitted to work by UK Visas and Immigration.