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Postgraduate degrees

The Department of Geography at Royal Holloway is one of the leading centres for international geographical research in the UK.

In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF, 2021) we were ranked fifth in the UK, and 100% of our research impact was rated 4* and 3* internationally excellent. We also have consistently high scores for 'overall student satisfaction' in the annual National Student Survey, and our students benefit from a strong support network.

We have a large community of postgraduate taught students on our range of MSc/MRes degree courses:


There is a range of funding sources for students on our Masters courses:

  • Departmental Masters Scholarships (up to £1,000 each). One per programme.
  • Vanina Boix Bursary (up to £1,000). Only students on the Practising Sustainable Development course are eligible.
  • MA Cultural Geography Scholarship (up to £1,000).

To be considered for departmental funding, please complete an application form and return it by email to the relevant MA/MSc Director.

  • Alumni bursaries. All students who have graduated from an undergraduate programme at Royal Holloway will have an automatic 15% discount on your fees.

Postgraduate research

We have more than 70 PhD students in our vibrant community, pursuing cutting-edge research and undertaking advanced training, in a host of areas across political, cultural and physical geography.

Each year our department offers funded studentships in specific areas that will enhance our research capabilities. Our department is also part of the prestigious ESRC SeNSS Doctoral Training Partnership, AHRC Techne Doctoral Training Partnership, EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Cyber Security for the Everyday, and the NERC Doctoral Training Partnership.

Studentships are available from several sources, which may vary, from time to time, in terms of eligibility and application procedures. We are currently advertising the following opportunities:

BME Studentship 31st May 2023

ESRC SeNSS Doctoral Training Partnership Studentships

11th January 2023

AHRC Techne Doctoral Training Partnership Studentships

11th January 2023

EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Cybersecurity for the Everyday


Please see below for information on how to apply

Develop your skills

We are committed to providing excellent training and career development opportunities for our PhD students. Successful applicants engage in departmental training to develop both their research-related and transferable skills. You can tailor your own experience, choosing from a wide variety of courses covering career development, communication skills, work placements and specialised research methods in Geography.

You are strongly encouraged to attend and contribute to research group seminars, departmental events and our annual Postgraduate Research Forum. In addition to departmental training, research students can take advantage of the College-led Researcher Development Programme.

How do I apply?

All PhD positions (whether self-funded or not) may be applied for only after consultation with a proposed supervisor. Before you start working on an application you will need to find a supervisor by contacting a member of academic staff in the geography department (with research interests similar to yours), to discuss your proposal. If you find a member of the academic staff who is prepared to supervise you, then they will able to answer any questions

that you have and help you with your application. If you need help finding a member of staff to work with, you can contact Geography’s Postgraduate Lead, Dr Sasha Engelmann.

Applicants may also have alternative sources of funding. Overseas students may receive direct support from overseas organisations or governmental institutions.


Applicants should have the equivalent of a 2.1-honours in Geography, or a related discipline, and meet College requirements for English (for international students). The chance of obtaining a studentship is increased for applicants holding a first-class Bachelor’s degree and/or a relevant MSc. Overseas applicants may apply for Techne, SeNSS and Cybersecurity Doctoral Training Partnerships. International applicants applying to departmental studentships (like the BME studentship) are welcome but will be required to cover the difference between the UK and overseas tuition fee rates.

Step 1

Take a look at the research profiles of the staff members in geography, then contact your intended supervisor and find out whether they would be prepared to supervise you. You can then start to carve out your specific ‘research proposal’ with advice from your potential supervisor. We expect a one-to-one match between student and project, so each student can only prepare an application with one supervisor.

Step 2

Whether you are applying for a Departmental Studentship (like the BME Studentship) or intend to enter the SeNSS or Techne funding competitions, your application must be submitted through the College online application system (called RH Direct), for which you need to register. The online application system provides a lot of detail, including a list of documents that are required for each PhD application. You will need to nominate two referees on this online form. They will be contacted by the College directly, but it is always a good idea for you to contact referees before you submit your application to make them aware of your plans, and so they can respond to the College request swiftly. Please provide:

  • an up-to-date CV
  • a degree transcript and copies of any other qualifications
  • copies of English language qualifications (if English is not your first language)
  • contact details for two references
  • your Research Proposal (see details provided below)
  • a personal statement (see detail provided below)

In addition to applying through RH Direct, applicants applying to the SeNSS and Techne competitions must also send their draft SeNSS and Techne applications directly to Sasha Engelmann by the deadline listed in the table above. Blank SeNSS and Techne application forms can be downloaded from the relevant application system (HEI Apply for SeNSS; Flexigrant for Techne). Research proposal material can be duplicated across the RH Direct and SeNSS / Techne applications.

What happens next?

After completeness and validity checks, your electronic submission will be sent to the Department of Geography, together with the references obtained by the College. Once the Department is happy that all the required information is attached to your application, it is passed to the Postgraduate Research Committee, along with those of other applicants, for their consideration. The Committee may, at this stage, request further information from individual applicants.

If you are unsuccessful at this stage you will be notified via email. If you are shortlisted then, you may be invited to an interview, which under certain circumstances may be done by video link.

SeNSS and Techne applicants will be considered by the Postgraduate Research Committee, after which they may or may not be progressed into the wider SeNSS and Techne competitions. If progressed, it is likely that the department will provide feedback on SeNSS and Techne applications, and applicants will need to make further edits before SeNSS and Techne submission deadlines.

More guidance on some of the requested documents

Research Proposal (maximum 10,000 characters including spaces and references): The research proposal should be completed by the applicant with input from the potential supervisor. It should include:

If you are applying for a specific studentship, please state the name of the studentship at the top of the proposal. If you are eligible and applying for consideration of more than one studentship, please list all that you are eligible and wish to be considered for.

A brief introduction of the research topic, including a review of the relevant literature, and a description of the main research questions to be addressed.

A research background section outlining the academic literatures and debates to which your potential project contributes.

A methods section stating how your project will be investigated (design, techniques, analysis).

A timeline showing how the planned research can be completed within a three-year timescale (six years if part-time study).

Note, it is important that the expertise of your potential supervisors and the facilities available at RHUL (e.g. specialist equipment) are highlighted in relation to your research proposal.

A personal statement completed by you (maximum 500 words): This should include information on your reasons for applying for your PhD, for our programme, and to carry out this project. Outline why you should be awarded a place on our PhD programme (and for the funding if applying for a studentship), what your career goals are, what has prepared you to undertake the PhD and proposed work, and what skill set and knowledge you have that will allow to succeed and make an impact (please highlight relevant achievements supporting why you would be a strong candidate).


Dr Sasha Engelmann,, Geography PGR Lead

Find out about our PhD programme

Find out about research degree tuition fees

Find out about research degree studentships and funding

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