The Application Process Series – How to Apply for a PhD

Hello there,

Welcome back to my diary. Hope everyone’s good.

I receive a lot of questions about how to apply for various programmes at the University of Surrey so, over the next couple of weeks, I will be talking about the application process for different programmes at the University. This series will be based on my experience and the experiences of my friends at the University. Today, let us begin with how to apply for a PhD. I will run through this process using six basic steps:

Step 1. Research on your area of interest

Identify the area(s) you are interested in and do some research to know more about these area(s). Check to confirm that the University is involved in your chosen research area(s) and offer doctoral programmes in this area. For a list of research programmes offered at Surrey, visit:

Step 2. Check the academic criteria and general entry requirements

When you find the programme page that you are interested in, check the academic requirements. These will explain the qualifications required to apply. For more information about general entry requirements including English language requirements, visit:

Step 3. Find a supervisor

Once you know which programme you are interested in and you’ve checked that you meet the academic criteria and other entry requirements, visit the ‘themes and facilities’ section of the course page to discover the different research themes that are available and explore the academic staff profiles to identify a suitable supervisor related to that area. Once you have found a potential supervisor, send them an email and start a conversation.

Step 4. Begin your application

Each of the research programme pages has an ‘apply’ button to start your application. The online application form has eight sections:

1. Personal details

2. Residency and fee status

3. Home and correspondence address

4. Qualifications and work experience

5. Research interest (here you will include the name of your supervisor and attach a copy of your research proposal if one is required)

6. Funding

7. References

8. Declaration

You will need to attach the following documents as part of your online application:

  • Scanned copies of your qualifications, these include certificates and transcripts
  • Evidence of the English language requirement
  • A copy of your passport data page
  • A personal statement (where requested)
  • A research proposal (where requested)
  • Contact details of two referees

Bonus tip: Not all research programmes and supervisors require a research proposal, but you’ll need to find out before you submit your application.

Step 5. Wait for an offer

Step 6. Accept your offer and Voila!


You can also apply for an advertised studentship which includes the Vice-Chancellor’s Studentship Award. Each advertised studentship will provide details on how to apply. For a list of studentships at Surrey, visit:

Just so you know, you can register for an upcoming postgraduate research webinar that will be held on Wednesday, 11 March 2020, 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm GMT. During this webinar, you can engage with members of staff, students, and ask questions about your area of interest and the application process. To register for this webinar, visit:

Look out for other blogs in this series where I will be taking you through the application process for other programmes offered by the University.

Till I come your way again,