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Eligibility and applications

Lilian Kisiswa

Our admissions criteria ensure that we only accept students of the highest quality, who can benefit from the experiences provided by undertaking a research degree.

They also ensure that the process of student selection is objective, transparent, open, fair and free from discrimination of any kind. They are reviewed at the start of the admissions cycle and are not normally changed during that cycle.

Our applying for postgraduate study pages provide you with advice and guidance on how to apply. If you cannot submit your application electronically, you may submit a hard copy.

For initial enquiries about admissions, please contact the Postgraduate Research Team. You are also welcome to contact academic members of staff directly to discuss possible research projects or themes you are interested in.

We don't have a specified number of places and will consider all suitable applications from graduates with degrees in relevant disciplines (including Optometry and Vision Sciences, Biology, Biosciences, Biochemistry, Genetics, Medicine, Molecular Biology, Physics, Psychology and Zoology).

We have 4 research themes which carry out research covering a wide range of scientific disciplines:

Applications will be considered throughout the year, with entry points in January, April, July, and October.

Studentship opportunities

Studentship opportunities arise throughout the year in our different research groups. All studentships are advertised to attract the widest possible pool of applicants, with a stated deadline for applications. We operate a 'gathered field' approach in this situation, collecting all applications which arrive before the deadline, and then selecting from the entire pool.

Before the advertising of a studentship, the proposed project, a person specification and details of the supervisors will have been reviewed externally. The person specification will identify the key criteria for the studentship.


All applicants are required to complete our application form. Applicants can apply online using the online application form or download paper copies from the central website. Application forms can also be obtained by contacting the School's Postgraduate Research Administrator.

Applications may be accompanied by CVs. References can either accompany the application or be obtained when an applicant has been short-listed. References must be taken up for all short-listed applicants. Only candidates that meet the essential criteria on the person specification will be short-listed.


All shortlisted applicants will normally be required to attend an interview. The interview panel will discuss the applicant and agree as to whether they are suitable to pursue a research degree in the department.

Our Postgraduate Research Administrator will inform applicants who have been unsuccessful of the outcome of their application. We will inform all applicants in writing of the decision made in respect of their application.

All applicants are required to complete the university application form and may wish to supply a curriculum vitae for further information. Applicants can apply online using the online application form or download paper copies from the central website.

Application forms can also be obtained by contacting the School's Postgraduate Research Administrator. Applicants are welcome to submit an outline of proposed research, however, applications are also invited from individuals with a research interest relevant to the School who have no specific project in mind. Successful applicants will, in this situation, work with the prospective supervisors to determine an appropriate research project.

Applications for research degrees are invited in any area that falls within the School's research themes.

Applicants can refer to the central postgraduate pages and our research pages for more information. Before applying, potential applicants should familiarise themselves with the expertise of the School staff by viewing their academic profiles.

Applicants may wish to directly contact members of staff in the relevant research disciplines informally before applying, to discuss possible areas of research.

Applications made for Postgraduate programmes are processed by the Admissions Team at the University's Registry and are forwarded to the School Postgraduate Research Administrator. The Director of Postgraduate Research will make an initial assessment to ascertain if the School has the resources to support the applicant in their request to register for a research degree in the School.

If the outcome of that initial assessment identifies that resources are not able to support the application then the application is deemed unsuccessful. Applicants will be notified in writing by Cardiff University Registry. If the Director of Postgraduate Research finds that the applicant may be supported and that the proposed research is in line with the Departmental research strategy, the application is passed to appropriate members of staff who have the expertise and background to supervise the applicant.

If the supervisor(s) decide to pursue the application further the applicant is invited for interview by a selection panel. The interview panel will discuss the applicant and agree as to whether they meet the criteria to pursue a research degree in the department. References must have been obtained by the time an
an applicant has reached this stage.

Cardiff University Registry will inform all applicants in writing of the decision made in respect of their application.

At the beginning of each academic year, the Postgraduate Committee reviews our admissions criteria and the previous admissions cycle and recommends any changes in policy or selection criteria. Policy and selection criteria will not normally be altered during an admissions cycle.

Initial applications are assessed based on the information contained within the application form
and attached documents. It is desirable that the applicant possess and can demonstrate some or all of the following personal attributes/qualities:

  • Evidence of potential for high academic achievement: evidenced by academic achievements or by a submitted piece of written work for applicants who are unable to demonstrate their academic potential through certified or pending qualifications)
  • Knowledge and understanding of research methods: evidenced by study at postgraduate and/or undergraduate level
  • An enthusiasm for the chosen area of research: evidenced by work experience, reference, personal statement
  • Good communication skills: evidenced by previous academic and work experience, extracurricular interests/activities, reference
  • The ability to work well as part of a team: evidenced by previous academic and work experience and extracurricular interests/activities, reference.
  • Reasoning and problem-solving ability: evidenced by previous academic and work experience and extracurricular interests/activities, reference
  • The ability to effectively manage one's own time and work independently: evidenced by previous academic and work experience and extracurricular interests/activities, reference

If shortlisted, all of these attributes will be further assessed during the interview.

Home/EU student requirements

  • An undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline, usually 2:1 or above/master's degree
  • Overseas qualifications will be checked for equivalency via the NARIC service
  • English language requirements for overseas students are as stipulated by the university
  • Other requirements are dependent on the nature of the specific project
  • Clinical postgraduate students may be required to have GOC registration for some projects and will need to be able to pass a CRB check
  • Lab-based postgraduate students may be required to have experience in the relevant techniques
  • Other requirements are dependent on the nature of the specific project

Additional requirements for international students

  • Overseas qualifications will be checked for equivalency via the NARIC service
  • All overseas applicants whose first language is not English must have a standard level of English that will enable them to benefit fully from their course of study

Find more on our international pages.

We don't have any standardised admissions test requirements.

We interview all shortlisted applicants. If, for any reason, the applicant is not able to attend the School for an interview, this may be conducted by video or teleconferencing (although some projects will require the applicants to attend the school to demonstrate proficiency in relevant laboratory techniques).

Those applicants selected for interview will be interviewed by a minimum of two individuals. This will either be two prospective supervisors, or one prospective supervisor and head of the relevant research group, or a nominee. The interview questions will be customised to meet the requirements of individual projects but will be standardised across applicants.

The interview panel will discuss each applicant and agree as to the most appointable applicant. The successful applicant will be informed by telephone, or in person, by the supervisor(s).

Part-time applicants who are employed will be required to provide written proof of the study leave arrangements made with their employer.

Transfer with credit from another higher education institution or within Cardiff University

The PhD programme does not accept transfer with credit from other programmes. Opportunities to learn more about the School and its programmes of study A University-wide Open Day for postgraduates is held in November of each year and provides an opportunity to visit the university.

The School of Optometry and Vision Sciences has a stand at this event, where potential applicants can talk to staff/postgraduate students from the School. The School also gives a short presentation about the PhD programme.

We have no objection to the possibility of deferred entry. This should be clearly stated on the application form, giving reasons for deferral. The same selection criteria apply to deferred applicants.

Applications from disabled candidates are welcomed at the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences. All such applicants are encouraged to contact the School's Disability and Specific Needs Representative at an early stage in the application process so that any needs can be discussed and adjustments to the process made wherever these are reasonable.

Documents, including the application form and the School's prospectus, can be supplied in alternative formats. The Disability and Specific Needs Representative, working with the University's Disability Advisers, can give information about course delivery and access to the physical environment relevant to potential applicants with specific needs. Informal visits can be arranged during which applicants can view accommodation and meet academic and student support staff.

Applicants to whom offers are made may be invited to an Open Day. All such applicants are invited to notify the School of any disability-related or specific needs that they, or an accompanying visitor, may have so that reasonable adjustments may be put in place. All students have an opportunity to visit the University to meet with a disability adviser and specific needs tutor to discuss the requirements of the course and what arrangements or reasonable adjustments may be made. Further information about the University's provision for disabled students is available from its Disability and Dyslexia Service.

Equality and diversity statement

Cardiff University is committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of its practices and activities, including those relating to student recruitment, selection and admission. The University aims to establish an inclusive culture which welcomes and ensures equality of opportunity for all. This commitment forms part of our Equality and Diversity Policy.

The university has agreed procedures for dealing with requests for feedback, which are set out in paragraphs 89-95 of the university's Admissions Framework.

Get more information about the University's Applicant Complaints and Appeals Process.