PhD Research Degree

Traditionally, a PhD involves three to four years of full-time study (can be six years or more if studied part-time), in which the student completes a substantial piece of original research presented as a thesis or dissertation. Some PhD programs instead accept a portfolio of published papers, while some countries require coursework to be submitted as well.

PhD Researcg-compressed

PhD through MPhil or MRes

Another option available for potential PhD candidates is to apply as a general research student or for an MPhil degree. This is a common path taken by PhD candidates. The MPhil is an advanced master’s degree awarded for research and can be suitable for students who do not have a strong research background. You will be required to take some taught courses to get you up to speed with things like research methods.

The successful completion of a one-year taught program may lead to the award of the MRes degree, which includes more taught components than the MPhil and can be awarded in lieu of a PhD for students who have not completed the required period of study for a PhD. Alternatively, the successful completion of original research may lead to the award of the MPhil degree, which can be awarded without the candidate having to present a defense of their dissertation (a requirement to achieve a PhD).

If, after the first or second year of your research (i.e. during your MPhil), the institution is satisfied with the progress of your work, you may then be able to apply for full PhD registration. Usually, your supervisor or tutor will be in charge of determining whether you are ready to progress to a PhD. If you’re deemed to be ready, you will then need to develop a title for your thesis and choose your PhD program.

How Can i Study a Research Degree ?

Universities are free to admit anyone to a PhD programme, and admission is usually conditional on the prospective student having successfully completed an undergraduate degree with at least upper second-class honours, or a postgraduate master’s degree.

There is usually a first-year assessment to remain in the study, while the thesis is submitted at the end of the completed programme. The thesis can be extended for up to four additional years, for a total of seven, but that is course dependent and also rare.
Learn more about our PhD application service for details on how we can help you study a PhD programme in popular study destinations around the world.

Can I Study

When to Apply and What are the Requirements?

Generally speaking, PhD admission requirements relate to the candidate’s grades (usually at both bachelor’s level and master’s level) and their potential research capabilities. Most institutions require that candidates hold an honors degree or a master’s degree with high academic standing, along with a bachelor’s degree with at least upper second-class honors. In some cases, you can also apply for a PhD simply on the basis of your master’s degree grades. Grades-based PhD admission requirements may also be based on the type of funding you will be using – you may be able apply with lower grades if you self-fund your PhD.

Mandatory Requirements

  • An undergraduate degree with at least an upper second class honours or a postgraduate master’s degree
  • Minimum IELTS score of 7.0 or above
  • A research proposal of 1000-2000 words
  • A supervisor will be required

Research Proposal

This will help admissions tutors to assess your aptitude for PhD research, and also to determine whether your research interests align with their own research priorities and available facilities. They will also consider whether they have the relevant staff to provide you sufficient supervisory expertise.

Some subject areas (such as science and engineering) do not ask for original research proposals. Instead, the institution presents a selection of PhD research projects which are formulated by the supervisor(s) concerned and peer-reviewed. This may be done at a certain time of year or year-round, depending on the institution.

  • Research proposal should be at least 15,00 to 2,000 words
  • Area to be investigated
  • The issue, research question or hypothesis that is to be tested
  • The likely methods and techniques to be used in the investigation
  • Details of work you have already done in the proposed field
  • Your suitability as a researcher for the proposed project
  • The relationship of the proposed research to the published literature and current research in your field, and an indication of the contribution your thesis would make

PhD Application & Personal Statement

Many institutions ask for a personal statement – a short essay which you can use to demonstrate your passion for your chosen subject. You can outline your reasons for wanting to study a PhD, personal motivations for doing so, any extracurricular activities that are particularly relevant or should be highlighted, and any flexibility in your chosen area(s) of research. If you need help, many institutions have a guide to personal statements on their website, which can also help you tailor your personal statement to each institution.


Employment and Academic References

Some institutions may also ask for a record of your employment such as a résumé, and/or all your academic transcripts, including details of course modules and module content as part of your PhD application. Details of other research projects you have completed and any publications you have been featured in can also help your application.

Many PhD applicants are also asked to provide references from two or three people who know them well in an academic setting, such as their undergraduate or postgraduate tutors or professors. These references must have a particular focus on your academic performance, coursework and research abilities, your research potential and your interest in your chosen field of study. For this reason, it is important to develop relationships with faculty members during your pre-PhD studies.


Degrees higher than a PhD

In addition to various degrees which may be considered equivalent to a PhD, there are also some ‘higher doctorate’ courses considered to be a step above the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). These are most common in UK universities and in some European countries, although they are increasingly awarded as honorary degrees. The US does not have a system of higher doctorates, and offer the titles solely as honorary degrees. Honorary degrees are sometimes signified by adding ‘hc’ (for honoris causa) to the end of the degree title.

Some higher doctorate degrees include:

  • Doctor of Science (DS/SD): Awarded in recognition of a substantial and sustained contribution to scientific knowledge beyond that required for a PhD.
  • Doctor of Literature/Letters (DLit/DLitt/LitD): Awarded in recognition of achievement in the humanities or for original contribution to the creative arts.
  • Doctor of Divinity (DD): Awarded above the Doctor of Theology (DTh), usually to recognize the recipient’s ministry-oriented accomplishments.
  • Doctor of Music (DMus): Awarded in the UK, Ireland and some Commonwealth countries on the basis of a substantial portfolio of compositions and/or scholarly publications on music.
  • Doctor of Civil Law (DCL): Highest doctorate excepting the DD, offered on the basis of exceptionally insightful and distinctive publications that contain significant and original contributions to the study of law or politics in general.

How Scorp Education can help with your Application

These are demanding courses requiring independent research and personal initiative, a big step up from a traditional taught master’s. A research degree involves the in-depth study of one particular area of academic interest and is specifically designed for students who are interested in academia.

Scorp Education’s MPhil and PhD Service can help you successfully be accepted on to a PhD degree. We will advise you on your choice of university and edit your personal statement and proposal into what an admissions panel would want to read. The PhD Service includes:


You will meet one of our consultants to discuss your academic background and ambition and decide which course would suit you. This Consultation is Free and can be arranged today. Please bring

  • All degree certificates
  • Transcripts of your undergraduate or previous degrees
  • Any relevant previous study documents

These can be complex and time consuming, and must be filled in with total accuracy. We will do this for you.

At this level your personal statement and CV must look immaculate and sound impressive. We will ensure that they are.

We will liaise with the university to keep track of your application and ensure you are updated at all times.

Interviews at this academic level are intellectually rigorous. We will mentor you with interview practice, simulating the conditions of an actual interview to prepare you for the real thing.

The research proposal, more than anything, is how your application will ultimately be judged. As English is not your first language, we will edit the research proposal to iron out any weaknesses, ensuring it is academically correct and is the best it can be.

Meet us Today

Using our unique services, we can tell you if you have what is required to study a research degree. Get in touch using the details below for a consultation, we just require that you bring the following:

  • All degree certificates
  • Transcripts of your undergraduate or previous degrees
  • Any relevant previous study documents

Book your free Consultation