Routes into research
There are lots of ways to start your research career.
Research degrees allow you to explore a particular topic in depth. You will conduct a piece of original and independent research, leading to a thesis or dissertation.
Master of Research MRes
MRes programmes are usually one-year full-time or two years part-time. They combine research and taught elements with a greater focus on research than an MA or MSc course. Most of your time will be spent working on a research project with support from your academic supervisor(s).
Doctor of Philosophy PhD
PhD programmes are the highest degree awarded by universities in the UK, enabling successful candidates to use the title ‘Dr’ before their name. They provide an opportunity for researchers to undertake a significant piece of academic research. A PhD is a significant commitment and, at Nottingham, they typically take three to four years to complete full-time or up to six years part-time.
All our PhD programmes provide you with the opportunity to complete additional training and development to support your research and wider transferable skills. You will complete a written thesis of up to 100,000 words, with expert support and advice from your academic supervisor(s). You will also take a verbal examination called a viva voce where you explain your project in depth to an examination panel.
Some students choose to complete a Master of Philosophy MPhil. This is a shorter version of a PhD and a qualification in its own right. Research is carried out in a similar way, typically including a shorter thesis, over two years full-time or up to four years part-time.
Professional Doctorates such as EdD, EngD
Like a PhD, Professional Doctorates provide successful researchers with the ‘Dr’ title. However, the two qualifications are different. Professional Doctorates are more appropriate for those pursuing professional careers, rather than academic. They also typically include some modules, compulsory training element and a shorter thesis.
Find a research programme
Apply for a studentship
A studentship is a fully funded research place in a specific area. The process is similar to applying for a job and the advert will give specific details of how to do this. You may also need to submit a formal application for the programme.
Find a studentship
Explore doctoral training programmes
If you choose a doctoral training programme, you will work alongside a group of fellow PhD students (though you may be researching different projects). You will benefit from high-level research and skills training, with places often funded by research councils or charitable trusts. Each opportunity has a different application process and deadlines. You may also need to submit a formal application for the programme.
Find a doctoral training programme
While these routes do not necessarily include funding, you may be able to apply for a scholarship or other source of funding.
Find a supervisor
You may wish to identify a specific supervisor working in your field of interest and approach them directly to discuss your research idea. They may be able to help you with developing a research proposal and applications to secure funding. You will still need to submit a formal application to the University.
Find an expert
Join a current project
You can also find out if you research in your area of interest is already taking place at the University. You would then apply directly to the relevant school, department or institute.
Find out about our research