Applying for a postgraduate research programme

Before applying, you should read all the information available regarding your proposed choice of study.

Before you apply, you must identify a potential supervisor for your PhD research, and contact them.

When completing the application form, you should read the associated guidance notes and follow the instructions provided.

Required documents

The following must be enclosed with your application:

  • two academic references;
  • photocopies of degree certificates if the degree has already been awarded and official transcripts of previous and current study;
  • research proposal;
  • a copy of your passport (if you will need a visa to study here);
  • evidence of English language ability (if English is not your first language) - either IELTS, TOEFL, Pearson Test of English, or Trinity Integrated Skills in English III certificate. The required scores are an overall IELTS score of 7.0 with 7.0 in the writing component; a TOEFL score of 600 paper-based test or 100 internet-based test; a  Pearson Test of English (PTE) score of 76 overall with 76 in the writing component; or an overall Trinity Integrated Skills in English (ISE) III grade of Merit, with Merit in the writing component. While the School's entry requirement for IELTS is an overall score of 7.0 with 7.0 in the writing element, applicants may be admitted to the Composition/Electro-Acoustic Composition PhD with an overall IELTS score of 6.5 with 6.5 in the writing element. Please note that if you are admitted with the lower score, you will be required to take the In-sessional English courses offered by the University Language Centre in your first year. English language test results are only valid for two years. Your English language test report must be valid on the start date of your programme.

Subject-specific requirements include:

  • Composition PhD - You must submit a portfolio of compositions.
  • Creative Writing PhD - You must provide a writing sample.
  • Electro-Acoustic Composition PhD - You must submit a CD of works.

Please note, if any documents are in a language other than English, you must provide official translations. A Personal Statement is NOT required to be submitted. You should select 'Supporting Statement is not required for this programme'.


The application process - what happens and when

Once the University has received your application, your details are recorded and you will be sent an acknowledgement.

Your application is then passed to us here in the School for consideration.

You are advised that decisions on admission will often not be made until a complete application is received, so failure to enclose all the necessary supporting documentation will result in delays in processing your application.

To help us make a decision as quickly as possible, please make sure you clearly state the exact title of the PhD programme you wish to apply for. If your application is successful, you will be made either:

  • a conditional offer of a place (for example, if you have not already completed your current programme of study or have yet to satisfy the English language requirement);
  • an unconditional offer.

On receipt of an offer, you should inform us as to whether you wish to accept the place. If there are conditions attached to the offer, you need to let us know as soon as they have been satisfied and provide the necessary documentation.

Application Procedure - What Happens and WhenIndicative Timescale
A programme application is submitted.  
If some of the compulsory supporting documentation is missing, you will be contacted via email. We will send you 3 requests via email, 2 weeks apart, with a deadline for submission of the documents in the third and final email request. If the documents are not received by the deadline, the application will be closed and not considered for admission.
A complete application is sent to PGR Director for the subject area and the named supervisor for review. This will be sent as soon as possible following a complete application being submitted, normally within 2 working days of the application being completed Please note, this may take longer around the deadlines for the funding applications due to the volume of applications received, or we need to obtain guidance on the equivalence of non-UK qualifications before forwarding the application for review.
An interview will be arranged if an offer is being considered. Ideally the interview should be arranged within 10 working days of the application being sent to PGR Director for review though please note that this may take longer depending on the availability of all necessary attendees, and/or around the deadlines for the funding applications due to the volume of applications received.
The decision is returned to Graduate School Office for processing. Normally within 5 working days of the interview taking place. 
The decision is ratified by the School Associate Director for PGR. Normally within 5 working days of the decision being returned to the Graduate School Office. Please note, this may take longer around the deadlines for the funding applications due to the volume of applications received.
The outcome is communicated by email and letter. Ideally within 5 working days of the decision being approved by the School PGR Director. Please note, this may take longer around the deadlines for the funding applications due to the volume of applications received. 

The interview

The University requires Schools to interview all applicants to whom we consider making an offer.

Interviews will be conducted by two academics, usually the proposed main Supervisor and the subject or divisional PGR Director (or an assigned representative). The interview can be either face-to-face or conducted via Skype, conference call or email.

The interview serves several purposes. It allows us to:

  • get a better picture of your ability to carry out your proposed doctoral project than the research proposal on its own may convey;
  • explain what the proposed supervisor(s) can bring to the project;
  • discuss with you directly any potential problems with the practical aspects of your studies, and explore solutions together.

Closing dates

Admission to studying for a PhD is highly competitive, so please allow as much time as possible to prepare your application, browse our research pages and academics' profiles, and familiarise yourself with the application process and any important deadlines.

To be considered for all funding sources, you need to apply far enough in advance of the relevant funding competition deadlines, which are usually much earlier than the programme deadline listed below. For studentships within the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures (including AHRC NWCDTP and ESRC NWSSDTP), you must submit your completed programme application by Friday 13 January 2023 unless specfied otherwise in the funding competition information at

If you are applying for or have secured external funding (for example, from an employer or government) or are self-funding, you must submit your application before the relevant deadline to be considered. You will not be able to apply after these deadlines have passed.

  • For September 2023 entry: 30 June 2023
  • For January 2024 entry: 30 September 2023

We look forward to receiving your application and welcoming you to Manchester and the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures.


For PhD admissions enquiries, please contact Miss Rachel Corbishley, the Postgraduate Admissions Administrator:

Rachel Corbishley
Postgraduate Admissions Administrator
Graduate School of Arts, Languages and Cultures
Room CG6, Ellen Wilkinson Building
The University of Manchester
Oxford Road
M13 9PL

Tel: +44 (0)161 275 3559