Research overview

We're one of the leading philosophy research communities in the UK and welcome applications from enthusiastic and committed PhD students.

Our research strengths

We're active across a mixture of established and emerging areas. Particular strengths include:

  • Applied, Feminist and Social Philosophy
  • Metaphysics and Mind
  • Logic and Language
  • Philosophy of Science
  • History of Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Epistemology
  • Moral Philosophy
  • Political and Legal Philosophy

This list is not exhaustive. Contact us to discuss your particular interests.

Current staff research and expertise

Get a feel for our current work – see our active staff research projects or find an expert in your area of philosophy. 

Current PhD research

Our current PhD students are exploring a diverse range of issues including:

  • metaethics
  • causation
  • modality
  • cyber-warfare
  • AI ethics
  • moral responsibility
  • philosophy of action
  • medical ethics

Recently completed theses

Your department

Find out more about what it's like to study and research with us on the Department of Philosophy website.

Course content

You will complete a written thesis of around 80,000 words, with expert support and advice from your academic supervisors.

You will also take a verbal examination called a viva voce where you explain your project in depth to an examination panel.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2022 entry.


MA with merit in philosophy or related subject.


MA with merit in philosophy or related subject.

International and EU equivalents

We accept a wide range of qualifications from all over the world.

For information on entry requirements from your country, see our country pages.

IELTS7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)
English language requirements

As well as IELTS (listed above), we also accept other English language qualifications.

This includes TOEFL iBT, Pearson PTE, GCSE, IB and O level English.

Meeting our English language requirements

If you need support to meet the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional English course. Presessional courses teach you academic skills in addition to English language. Our Centre for English Language Education is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

If you successfully complete your presessional course to the required level, you can then progress to your degree course. This means that you won't need to retake IELTS or equivalent.

For on-campus presessional English courses, you must take IELTS for UKVI to meet visa regulations. For online presessional courses, see our CELE webpages for guidance.

Visa restrictions

International students must have valid UK immigration permissions for any courses or study period where teaching takes place in the UK. Student route visas can be issued for eligible students studying full-time courses. The University of Nottingham does not sponsor a student visa for students studying part-time courses. The Standard Visitor visa route is not appropriate in all cases. Please contact the university’s Visa and Immigration team if you need advice about your visa options.

We recognise that applicants have a variety of experiences and follow different pathways to postgraduate study.

We treat all applicants with alternative qualifications on an individual basis. We may also consider relevant work experience.

If you are unsure whether your qualifications or work experience are relevant, contact us.


If you are unsure of how your research interests might fit into our research areas, contact the postgraduate admissions tutor Dr Benedict Rumbold who'll be happy to help.


You will have a minimum of two supervisors who will offer expert guidance, support and feedback throughout your research.

If appropriate researchers can also have supervisors from outside the Department of Philosophy.

Supervisors and research specialisms

Midlands4Cities (M4C)

You must apply for a place at Nottingham before submitting your M4C application.

Our step-by-step guide contains everything you need to know about applying for postgraduate research.

How to apply


Home / UK£4,625 per year
International£20,000 per year

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you will pay international tuition fees in most cases. If you are resident in the UK and have 'settled' or 'pre-settled' status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you will be entitled to 'home' fee status.

Irish students will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for 'home' fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our information for applicants from the EU.

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).


M4C logo

Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Programme

Midlands4Cities PhD students benefit from a high quality package of:

  • funding
  • enhanced support and training
  • expert supervision
  • excellent networking opportunities

You must apply for a place at Nottingham before submitting your M4C application.

Apply to become an M4C student at the University of Nottingham

There are many ways to fund your research degree, from scholarships to government loans.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding


You can expect to be made to feel at home in a department with a strong and supportive research culture.

Weekly research seminar

Involves both members of the department and outside speakers. In recent years this has included:

  • Helen Beebee
  • Jeff McMahan
  • Antony Duff
  • Katherine Hawley
  • Brad Hooker
  • Helen Yetter-Chappell

If you would like to come along to a research seminar to find out more about us contact our head of department Dr Neil Sinclair.

More details about upcoming and past speakers are on our department website.

Postgraduate seminars

Run by postgraduate students this allows you to present your ongoing research in a constructive and supportive atmosphere.

"As chair of the Postgraduate Research Seminar this year, it's been great to not only listen to my peers deliver their research, but to watch as their work constantly evolves and develops and on a weekly basis. The Postgraduate Research Seminar, and the friendly and inclusive environment we've created, is without doubt one of the best parts of doing my philosophy PhD at Nottingham." Taylor Matthews, PhD student

Open door policy

You are very welcome to drop in and discuss your current work with any available member of staff.

Workshops, conferences, and reading groups

These often run in the department, and postgraduate students are encouraged to participate. For current details see the Department of Philosophy website.

Publishing support

We actively encourage postgraduate students to be published in major journals. Recent postgrad articles have appeared in:

  • Mind
  • Australasian Journal of Philosophy
  • Philosophical Studies
  • Analysis
  • Oxford Studies in Metaphysics
  • Ratio

A publication records equips you well for the philosophy job market. It also provides evidence of commitment and excellence for those considering career routes outside of academia.

Midlands4Cities students

If you are funded through the Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership you will complete a portfolio of research training, devised in consultation with your supervisors and Head of Postgraduate Studies.

Language learning

You can make full use of the Language Centre facilities for both research-specific learning and personal interest.

Researcher training and development

The Researcher Academy is the network for researchers, and staff who support them. We work together to promote a healthy research culture, to cultivate researcher excellence, and develop creative partnerships that enable researchers to flourish.

Postgraduate researchers at Nottingham have access to our online Members’ area, which includes a wealth of resources, access to training courses and award-winning postgraduate placements.

Graduate centres

Our graduate centres are dedicated community spaces on campus for postgraduates.

Each space has areas for:

  • studying
  • socialising
  • computer work
  • seminars
  • kitchen facilities

Student support

You will have access to a range of support services, including:

  • academic and disability support
  • childcare services
  • counselling service
  • faith support
  • financial support
  • mental health and wellbeing support
  • visa and immigration advice
  • welfare support

Students' Union

Our Students' Union represents all students. You can join the Postgraduate Students’ Network or contact the dedicated Postgraduate Officer.

There are also a range of support networks, including groups for:

  • international students
  • black and minority ethnic students
  • students who identify as women
  • students with disabilities
  • LGBT+ students

SU Advice provides free, independent and confidential advice on issues such as accommodation, financial and academic difficulties.

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Where you will learn

University Park Campus

University Park Campus covers 300 acres, with green spaces, wildlife, period buildings and modern facilities. It is one of the UK's most beautiful and sustainable campuses, winning a national Green Flag award every year since 2003.

Most schools and departments are based here. You will have access to libraries, shops, cafes, the Students’ Union, sports village and a health centre.

You can walk or cycle around campus. Free hopper buses connect you to our other campuses. Nottingham city centre is 15 minutes away by public bus or tram.


Whether you are considering a career in academia, industry or haven't yet decided, we’re here to support you every step of the way.

Expert staff will work with you to explore PhD career options and apply for vacancies, develop your interview skills and meet employers. You can book a one-to-one appointment, take an online course or attend a workshop.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

Philosophy doesn’t lead to a single specific career - it leads into a huge range of professions!

Our graduates go on to many different sectors including:

  • business and finance
  • commercial, industrial and public sector management and marketing
  • sales and advertising
  • academic research


"I have found that as I grow and mature my background in Philosophy serves me more and more. I know where to look when I need help dealing with the human condition, both in and out of the office."

Andrew Schafer, Philosophy MPhil

The average annual salary for postgraduates from the School of Humanities was £25,563*

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

Portrait of Neil Sinclair looking direct at the camera
I’m interested in human beings, particularly their ethics or morality. As a philosopher I encourage my students to develop a systematic and general understanding of human beings and their world, and to test their ideas through rigorous argument. Philosophy is really no more than the search for a theory of human beings and is therefore vital in understanding the challenges those beings face.
Dr Neil Sinclair, Associate Professor in Philosophy

Related courses

Research Excellence Framework

We are ranked 8th in the UK for research power (2014). The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system used by UK higher education funding bodies to assess research quality in universities.

  • 69% of the department's research activity is classed as being ‘world leading’, or ‘internationally excellent’
  • More than 97% of research at Nottingham is recognised internationally
  • More than 80% of our research is ranked in the highest categories as world-leading or internationally excellent
  • 16 of our 29 subject areas feature in the UK top 10 by research power

This content was last updated on 10 December 2021. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.