Before considering applying for a PhD at Royal Holloway you should :
- have a strong and committed interest in a research area of interest to the School
- create a strong proposal of around 2,000 words based on that interest
- ensure you fulfil our entry criteria and English language requirements
- ensure you have a realistic plan to secure enough funding to complete your research and writing up process within the normal time period (3 -4 years).
There are three main components to our application process:
- Identifying a suitable supervisor and obtaining their support for supervision
- Submitting all necessary documentation through our on-line application system
- Attending an admissions interview.
To see our research areas and find out how to find a suitable research match and supervisor please visit here. When making contact with the staff member, please forward your research proposal and CV and only contact one potential supervisor at a time . If a supervisor feels they are not suitable, they may refer you on to another staff member.
An expression of interest from one of our staff does not automatically guarantee admission to our PhD programme. Applications are based on your previous academic performance, the quality of your research proposal and your performance at an admissions interview.
If you cannot find the research area you are looking for, please contact us
How to write a strong research proposal
Your research proposal is a key part of your application. It will be read by academics with an interest in your research area and judged both on content and format. It is one of the key criteria that the School of Management (and funding bodies) uses to differentiate between applicants.
It is important to present your potential supervisor with a clear proposal when you first make contact with them. Your research proposal should be around 2,000 words in length.
To write a strong research proposal you must:
- Provide an introduction to your research proposal. You should identify the research subject in terms of theoretical issues and clearly define the topic you are interested in, demonstrating that you understand your research area.
- Formulate a reasonably precise, interesting research question which may take the form of a hypothesis to be tested, or a more open-ended enquiry / or illustrate that you have started to identify and develop an original and interesting research question
- establish the relevance and value of the proposed research question in the context of current academic thinking
- Provide a review of relevant literature and theories relating to your proposed research area that illustrates you understand the major lines of argument that have been developed and the ideas and findings of key researchers working on your topic
- Demonstrate that you understand how to conduct research by outlining a clear and practical methodology which enables you to answer the research question. You should also describe and evaluate any data or source material you will draw upon
- Provide an indication of the research methods you will use and the form and extent of any empirical work required. For example:
- Outline the sources of information you might require
- Comment on the geographical area in which your study will take place – what are the advantages and disadvantages of this choice?
- Justify your choice of research participants - individuals? Groups? Industry?
- Give an indication as to how you envisage your research will contribute to debates and discussions in your particular subject area. Will it make an original contribution? How might it fill gaps in existing work or extend understanding of particular topics?
- Any ethical issues you will need to consider in undertaking your research..........
- Demonstrate that your research will not take longer than three years
- Be professional – your proposal should be typed, have a good standard of English, be well-structured with suitable headings and should be clear and legible
- Include a bibliography, listing the books, articles and websites you have referred to.
While the actual empirical work you undertake may differ to your proposal, it is essential you have an understanding of the issues associated with conducting research and the potential to design a research study to address a specific set of issues.
You can still make changes to your proposal once you have been accepted for a research degree, however as it is the foundation of your working relationship with your supervisor, it cannot be radically altered without discussion and consultation.
Online application system
Generally each application should include the following:
- Application form (you should check each section has been completed accurately)
- Full academic transcripts for each degree obtained (detailing courses taken & grades)
- A research proposal of 2,000 words
- Personal statement (one-side of A4 only). This should detail your previous academic or other experience relevant to the research area you wish to explore; details on why you wish to undertake this research at Royal Holloway; and your previous research or professional training and what further training you think you will need to complete a PhD
- An up to date Curriculum Vitae (CV)
Contact details for one academic referee (including address and telephone number). Preferably this would be from your latest (Masters) degree as we require information about the standard of your academic work, and suitability for studying a PhD. Your referee can either submit a paper copy and post it to us, or complete it electronically and send via email. We can only accept references on official letterhead or endorsed by a university institution. We will ask you to supply a second reference if the first is unsuitable for supporting an application to PhD level of study.
- If relevant, evidence that you meet our English language requirements (IELTS or TOEFL) i.e. a copy of the test transcript.
For further information on making an application using Royal Holloway Direct, see Study here.
Applicants must also submit a Statement of Purpose within their application. Candidates should use the Statement of Purpose to set out information which is NOT set out in their Research Proposal. The Statement of propose should be a 1 side A4 document containing the following information:
- Why you want to undertake your PhD, including future career goals
- Previous academic and other experience relevant to your proposed research
- Why you wish to undertake this research at Royal Holloway(thinking about where the project fits with the School and supervisors’ research interests)
- What research training and professional preparation you have already received
- Any further training you think you may need to complete your doctorate.
If you fulfil our entry criteria and have gained support from a potential supervisor, you will be invited for interview with the potential supervisor and another member of staff. It is our preference that this is conducted face-to-face but it is possible to do this via Skype. The interview will last for approximately 45 minutes. The interview panel will ask questions designed to explore your knowledge of the field, previous experience and skills, and commitment to study for a PhD.
The interview results will be given to the PhD Director and the final decision will be based on this and the on-line application. Royal Holloway Postgraduate (Research) Admissions will inform you of the outcome.