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Studying a postgraduate research programme

Our postgraduate research programmes provide you with the opportunity to prepare for careers both within and beyond academia.

You will immerse yourself in a specific area of interest, acquire new transferable skills that are useful and adaptable for many different careers, and make a valuable contribution to new knowledge.

On this page you’ll find some helpful guidance and information to help make the process of applying for one of our research programmes as simple as possible.

Choosing your research programme

At Cardiff University we offer a range of programmes, including:

Research programmes (including PhD and MPhil)

Research programmes are available in all academic schools at Cardiff University. Our research programmes are:

  • an in-depth study of a specified field of interest over an extensive period, normally one year full-time for MPhil and three-four years full-time for PhD
  • often available full-time or part-time
  • written up in the form of a thesis or dissertation and assessed by an oral viva voce examination
  • an opportunity to demonstrate your original contribution of knowledge or practice to your chosen field

Your experience and type of research will differ depending on whether you’re studying a lab-based or desk-based programme.

Research programmes with a taught element (including MRes and Professional Doctorates)

These include our Master of Research (MRes) in Biosciences and Professional Doctorates in Clinical Psychology, Health Studies and Economics. Research programmes with a taught element:

  • require the results of your research to be written up in the form of a thesis or dissertation
  • provide advanced research training and specialist knowledge through a taught element before you embark on your research project

Selecting the right route into a research programme

There are two main application routes for you to consider:

1. Apply to an advertised PhD

For this route you can apply for an advertised PhD with a pre-defined project and allocated supervisor. You will not normally need to provide a research proposal but with the project pre-defined make sure it matches your interests. These are often funded by research council funding.

For STEM subjects, the majority of projects are advertised in the autumn to start the following October. View our PhD Studentships and Projects search tool to see what is available.

Apply for an advertised PhD

2. Apply to one of our research programmes

If you cannot find what you are looking for among our advertised project opportunities and you want to pursue your own research project, then you can apply directly to one of our research programmes.

If you choose this route you would normally need to provide a short initial research proposal and find a potential supervisor that is active in your area of interest.

This route is normally self-funded either from a sponsor or another source.

Apply for a research programme

Additional information

Start dates

When you start is usually dictated by the project or studentship if you go down Route one and this is normally in October. However, there are also some opportunities with a January start and, if you are self-funded, you may even be able to start in April or July.

Teaching opportunities

Some of our research students do have the opportunity to gain teaching experience during their studies with us but this does vary depending on which academic school you are based in. This is definitely a question to ask your prospective supervisor during the application process if it is important to you.

Remote study

Some students may live away from Cardiff and visit campus less frequently than others if this suits lifestyle and other commitments. This may be possible for you but entirely depends on your project, funding (Route one research council-funded projects will usually not allow this) and agreement with your supervisor.

Part-time work

Many research students work part-time to support living costs and to gain experience. When you enrol you can sign-up for job opportunities from JobShop but be careful to find the right balance for your time as we always advise that your studies come first. Also, you will need to check the requirements of your visa if you need one to study in the UK.

Find out more

Get the information you need to make the right choice for you.

Postgraduate Open Days

Attend one of our postgraduate open days to meet staff and current students

Doctoral Academy

Learn more about our Doctoral Academy and contact them

Postgraduate social sciences students

Browse research programmes

Find out more about our research programmes and contact our academic schools

Chemistry postgraduate researcher

Doctoral Training Initiatives

Explore the range of Doctoral Training Initiatives that we are leading or participating in


We are here to help with any questions you might have. Contact our enquiries team with your questions.