Applications, entry requirements and admissions processes

The application and admissions process for postgraduate research degrees at UWE Bristol.


E5 Applications and entry requirements

  1. Proposed research can be in any field of study in which the University has the expertise and resource to offer supervision. The proposal must be undertaken through a category of study as set out in Regulation E4 and have the potential to meet the requirements of the qualifications descriptors for that award (Regulation E3).
  2. For the MPhil, PhD and Professional Doctorate awards, applicants will normally hold a minimum of a 2:1 Honours degree or equivalent. English Language requirements will be published on the University’s website.
  3. Applicants for Professional Doctorate programmes are normally expected to evidence their experience of relevant professional practice and access to a suitable professional context in which to conduct their research.
  4. To apply for study by published research, applicants must either:
    • be employed by the University or by an affiliated academic institution for a minimum of one year, with at least six months remaining on their contract, or
    • have a close association with the University as agreed by the Vice-Chancellor or nominee and in accordance with requirements published by the University.

Procedures about applications, entry requirements and admissions

Entry requirements – all awards

This procedure links to regulation E5.ii.

  1. Applicants must meet minimum English language proficiency requirements. The requirements for international applicants wishing to pursue research at UWE Bristol are IELTs 6.5–7.5 overall or accepted equivalents. Colleges may vary their requirements within this range. The published postgraduate research study eligibility criteria will detail any such variation.

Responsibilities of the applicant

This procedure links to regulation E5.i.

  1. Applicants must submit a completed application by the published deadline with all supporting documents, including a research proposal where required, evidence of how the English language requirement is met, and evidence of previous qualifications and references, as detailed in the published guidance.
  2. Before submitting their application, the applicant should discuss their research proposal with the potential Director of Studies (DoS). If no potential DoS has been identified, they should contact the College Director of PGR Studies for advice.
  3. The applicant must attend a formal interview if invited to do so in person or, exceptionally, via video link.
  4. Applicants who require a student visa must apply at least 4 months in advance of the proposed start date in order to obtain an offer in time to apply for a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS), visa and Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate (if applicable). More guidance for international applicants can be found later in this chapter.
  5. If a subsequent formal offer is made, the applicant will receive an offer letter and terms and conditions document, which must be signed and returned to accept the place.

Consideration of applications

This procedure links to regulation E5.i.

  1. Applications will be reviewed by the relevant College. Research proposals are considered according to academic merit. The College will consider:
    • suitability for research degree study
    • alignment to College or School research priorities
    • availability of supervision and other resources
    • mode and place of study
    • availability of funding
    • any related accredited studies and research training
    • research governance including ethical approval requirements and confidentiality
    • intellectual property rights
    • arrangements with any collaborators.

Offer of a place

This procedure links to regulation E5.i.

  1. Successful applicants will only receive a formal offer with terms and conditions after a successful interview. Interviews may take place by video conference, using software approved by the University, where it is not possible to hold a face-to-face event.
  2. The designated College Research Degree Committee (CRDC) will approve any offer of a place on a research degree programme.
  3. The formal offer will name an appropriate DoS.

Responsibilities of the application reviewers, potential Director of Studies and interview panel

This procedure links to regulation E5.i.

  1. Colleges are responsible for the selection and admission of applicants.
  2. Reviewers and potential DoS must consider the viability of the research proposal in relation to the College or School’s existing research priorities, availability of suitable supervision and resources before inviting an applicant to interview.
  3. A member of the CRDC, who has received the relevant interview training, must act as panel chair at the interview.
  4. The potential DoS or another member of the potential supervision team is normally on the panel.
  5. The panel chair must complete the interview form published by the Doctoral Academy Hub to record the interview and its outcome.
  6. Where the panel decides that an offer should be made, a suitable and qualified DoS must be named. Other supervision team members should also be named at this point where possible.
  7. The panel must provide clear information about any additional project fees, lab/bench fees or other costs for which the applicant will be liable.
  8. The College’s PGR Director or nominated equivalent must approve any offer before it is sent to the applicant.

PGR candidate terms and conditions

This procedure links to regulation E5.i.

  1. The PGR candidate terms and conditions document will include, but is not confined to:
    • start date
    • award details
    • Director of Studies and where possible the names of the other supervisors
    • fees and funding (including any project fees, bench/lab fees or other costs)
    • research degree progress milestone deadlines
    • regulations and policies (including requirements for data management and storage or links to same)
    • requirements for students who need a visa to study – student visa (formerly Tier 4)
    • Intellectual Property ownership requirements
    • any specific conditions relating to the applicant’s offer.

Applicants who need a visa to study should also familiarise themselves with UWE Bristol's international study information and read the further guidance for international applicants below.

Applications for MPhil or DPhil by publication

This procedure links to regulation E5.iv.

  1. Applications for the DPhil/MPhil (by publication) will be considered according to the following criteria:
    • It is expected that applicants within either category at regulation E5.iv will already be research active, having experience of publishing their research outputs in recognised journals or other professional publications within the field.
    • Where the applicant is employed part-time or full-time by UWE Bristol, they must be either engaged on a permanent contract, or on a fixed-term or temporary contract of a minimum of one year, with at least six months remaining at the Postgraduate Researcher's (PGR) start date. Staff on a fixed-term or temporary contract must be contracted for at least 10 hours per week.
    • Where the applicant is from an affiliated academic institution, they must be employed by that institution on a full or part-time permanent contract.
    • Where the applicant claims eligibility for the DPhil/MPhil programme due to close association with UWE Bristol, this can include staff members who have retired from employment at UWE Bristol within the calendar year directly preceding the proposed start date.
    • Any invitation to apply extended to external applicants by the relevant College on the basis of close association with UWE Bristol must be made to an individual rather than on a solely corporate basis.
    • All successful applicants must follow the admissions, project confirmation and progression processes for doctoral or MPhil awards published by the Doctoral Academy.
  2. External applicants (for example, not current or former UWE Bristol employees) applying on the grounds of close association with UWE Bristol will also fulfil the following expectations:
    • The applicant will already be research active and have a significant body of published research, for example, named sole and/or joint author in recognised journals in the field.
    • Where the association is via an employer’s partnership with the University or relevant College, applicants will have personal involvement with the resultant collaborative research activities. This involvement should be ongoing, or at least recent (within the last 12 months). This may include involvement in joint research projects or initiatives leading to significant joint research outputs in which the applicant should be able to evidence the level of their individual input (project manager, named author, etc.).
    • There is an expectation that the individual’s DPhil/MPhil by publication registration will give rise to further collaborative research, joint publications, and other research outputs and this should be factored into the research project registration proposal.
  3. The Dean of Research and Enterprise for the relevant College will have final authority to decide the eligibility of individuals to apply where not specifically covered in the above criteria, but all successful applicants must comply with published processes for admissions, project confirmation and progression.
  4. All applicants for awards by publication are expected to discuss their proposal with the relevant College or School prior to submitting a completed application. Speculative applications from external applicants will not normally be accepted. All external applications made on the basis of close association should be accompanied by an email of support or other communication from the relevant college or school.

Non-standard applications

This procedure links to regulation E5.i.

  1. Professional experience:
    • If the College or School wishes to consider an application on the basis of professional experience rather than previous academic qualification, then equivalence must be clearly demonstrated. College reviewers must consider references from two sources that are independent of the proposed supervision team which endorse the applicant’s suitability to complete a research degree. The applicant may also be required to submit a portfolio of work to evidence their application if necessary for example, publications, written reports, or other evidence of accomplishment.
  2. Studying mainly outside the UK:
    • If the College wishes to consider an application where the research degree will be completed substantially outside the UK, the following criteria must be satisfied:
      • Satisfactory evidence of the facilities that will be made available for the research and to support the PGR at the main location of study.
      • The candidate will normally be required to study in full-time mode.
      • Supervision arrangements must enable frequent and substantial contact between the PGR and their DoS, and with the full supervisory team when appropriate.
      • Arrangements must be in place to meet professional development and accredited training requirements, including attendance in person at a UWE Bristol campus site where required.
      • The proposed supervisors and interview panel must be confident that the applicant has the capability to study effectively at a distance.
      • Arrangements for the review of ongoing progress must comply with requirements detailed in the Stages of progression and Progress Review sections of the Doctoral Academy Handbook. The applicant and DoS must be clear that the progression examination viva and final assessment viva will normally take place at a UWE Bristol campus site.

Further information and guidance for applicants

Find out about research degrees at UWE Bristol

Everything you need to know about research degrees at UWE Bristol including whether a research degree is right for you, start dates, fees and how to apply is available on the postgraduate research study application pages. 

International PGR applicants

The following information is relevant to International PGR applicants applying to study in the UK for the first time or those already studying at undergraduate or Masters level in the UK.

Visa applications

  • Candidates applying for research degree programmes from overseas should refer to UWE Bristol’s guidance on visas and immigration.
  • The Home Office rules on immigration and student visas change frequently, so applicants should stay up to date on issues that may affect them. Please refer to the Home Office website for the latest information on immigration rules and student visas.

Visa extensions

  • PGRs who have been accepted to study on a research degree award, and who are currently studying towards an undergraduate or Masters-level degree at a UK institution (including UWE Bristol) should allow enough time to apply for a new visa before their current visa expires. In some cases, the applicant may have to return to their home country before starting their research degree.
  • You can contact UWE Bristol Immigration Advisers for appointments and advice at:
    Tel: +44 (0)117 3283871 (Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9:00–12:00)
    You can also book a telephone appointment to discuss a query with an Immigration Adviser.
  • International PGRs who are usually based in their home country and who need to attend UWE Bristol on a short-term basis will need to apply to the Home Office for an appropriate visa. It is the PGR's responsibility to arrange and pay for the visa, travel, and other expenses relating to the visit.
  • Please send questions about visa applications directly to the UWE Bristol Immigration Advice Team.

Points Based System

  • Under the Tier 4 Visa Points Based System (PBS), UWE Bristol is responsible for ensuring students are undertaking their studies whilst in the UK. The University is required to inform the Home Office if PGRs:
    • fail to comply with the conditions of their visas (such as working restrictions)
    • do not arrive for the start of the course
    • change their course, transfer institution
    • defer or suspend their studies
    • do not attend or engage with their studies for significant periods of time
    • withdraw from a course.
  • Full information on the PBS and how it is implemented at UWE Bristol, including attendance requirements, can be found in UWE Bristol’s guidance on visas and immigration.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

  • The ATAS applies to many new PGRs at UWE Bristol. This approval process can add at least 30 working days before the application for CAS can be processed. Further guidance on how to apply for an ATAS certificate is available online. Please note that April to September is the busiest period to apply for ATAS.
  • PGR's should note that even if ATAS clearance was not required at the start of the research degree, it is possible that it will be required if there has been a significant change to the research project, a change to the College you are based in, or an application for a visa extension is needed. It is likely that PGRs with ATAS will have to reapply if they need to extend their Tier 4 visa and should therefore allow sufficient time for the reapplication process.
  • PGRs who are usually based overseas in their home country may be required to obtain ATAS clearance prior to coming to the UK for study purposes, for example, to attend your progression exam viva or final viva. You must allow sufficient time to obtain the ATAS certificate prior to arrival in the UK. You will need to apply for ATAS for each trip/visa you apply for. Please contact the Doctoral Academy if you are unsure whether you will need to apply for ATAS for your particular research area.

Getting used to life in the UK

  • There are many sources of advice and help, depending on the nature of the query. For academic issues, your DoS should normally be the first point of contact. For administrative queries or any other concerns, please contact the Doctoral Academy by email at

Interview panel and outcome

Interview panel

The interview panel will always include a Chair, who will be a member of the relevant CRDC, acting on behalf of the committee, and usually the potential DoS. Another person can often be included if necessary – this will be someone with particular relevance to the project such as a potential supervisor, collaborator, or someone with subject-specific knowledge. It is the responsibility of the panel to make an academic and strategic decision on whether to recommend accepting the applicant.

Interview outcome

The Chair of the panel is responsible for contacting the applicant to notify them informally of the recommended outcome and give feedback if requested. This might be on the day of the interview for an individual application, or after all interviews have taken place if part of a competitive studentship process. Final offers are subject to approval from the relevant College PGR Director or equivalent.

Conditional offers

An offer might be conditional on confirmation of funding, or the completion of a qualification, such as a first degree or Masters. In some cases, an offer may be made that is conditional on the successful completion of an English language qualification. Please note that this is not possible for admission onto postgraduate research degrees in the faculties of Business and Law and Arts, Creative Industries and Education. More information about English language qualifications is available in the postgraduate research study eligibility criteria.

Arriving late at UWE Bristol to start your research degree

  • If you are not going to be able to arrive at UWE Bristol in order to start your degree on the date specified in your terms and conditions you should contact the Doctoral Academy and your DoS to let them know, and in some circumstances to agree a deferral (approved delay) to your start date.
  • You should also discuss with your DoS what initial work you can make a start on from where you are, for example beginning your literature review, to ensure that you do not fall behind with your research and will be able to submit your RD1 – project registration (DOC) on time.
  • Please note: no extension to your project registration RD1 submission deadline will normally be made due to late arrival.

Doctoral Academy Handbook sections