Research degree opportunities
We offer opportunities to study for a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in all of our academic schools, as well as other research degree qualifications, including the DBA and Professional Doctorates.
Find out more about research opportunities in each of our Schools:
- School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences
- School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment
- School of Art and Design
- School of Arts and Humanities
- Nottingham Business School
- Nottingham Institute of Education
- Nottingham Law School
- School of Science and Technology
- School of Social Sciences
Find out more about our DBA and other Professional Doctorates:
Our world-class research has earned us a Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education – the highest national honour for a UK university.
Our research is recognised and funded by research councils and other external bodies. We also offer research studentships for full-time MPhil / PhD study, which are awarded competitively each year. We will emphasise the development of skills, networks and knowledge, to help you build successful careers.
Your research experience at NTU
As you work on your research you will be given the support you need, such as:
- expert supervision from an experienced researcher
- a well-chosen programme of supporting studies and training
- pastoral and administrative support.
By studying for a research degree you will examine a specific field in-depth, usually over two or three years, and write up your research in the form of a thesis or dissertation. Then you will take an oral examination (viva) conducted by specialists in your field of research.
An MPhil / PhD is not structured like a postgraduate taught course. You won't attend lectures or classes, or follow specific modules. You will work independently in order to critically investigate and evaluate your research topic, and you will need to carefully assess the research opportunities available in your chosen area.
A Professional Doctorate is structured around a series of documents, each of which is supported by an attendance workshop. This blends classroom attendance and research with the same level of independent work and critical analysis as the MPhil / PhD.
Types of study
MPhil and PhD
The normal PhD study route is MPhil / PhD where students transfer registration from MPhil to PhD registration after 15-18 months of the programme.
MPhil projects involve research on an academic or professional discipline. You will need to show originality in your application of knowledge, and understand how the boundaries of knowledge are advanced through research. You should be ready to deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, and show originality in tackling and solving problems.
PhDs are awarded for the creation and interpretation of knowledge, usually through original research. As a holder of a doctorate, you will be able to conceptualise, design and implement projects to generate significant new knowledge and/or understanding.
Full-time and part-time
Full-time students usually complete their project within two to four years. Part-time students usually spend four to eight years on theirs.
Occasionally we allow research projects by distance learning. Applications for this will be considered on a case-by-case basis and students will be expected to spend at least some time on our campus.
This research degree is designed to provide an opportunity for those working in education, legal practice or social practice to study part-time for a research degree which is consciously linked to their own practice. Schools may also accept applications for part-time PhD projects on similar topics, and potential applicants should contact the Doctoral School or relevant course leader to discuss the pros and cons of part-time study by either route.
The Professional Doctorate course, for example, requires attendance at a series of workshops and submission of doctorate level work divided into a series of separate documents submitted during the course of the project. It is completed with a dissertation of approximately 35,000 words and a reflective report. The minimum period within which a Professional Doctorate can be completed is 48 months, the maximum period is 96 months. The University does not stipulate normal periods of registration for its Professional Doctorate courses within the minimum and maximum timescales.
Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
Our DBA provides a distinctive approach to continuing personal and professional development. It offers a practical perspective in a stimulating environment and challenges traditional management understanding.
With a strong focus on managerial and professional practice; the DBA links rigorous study of work-based problems and issues to personal and professional development. This aids the transfer of learning into organisational and managerial practice.
As a DBA student, you will take modules in research methodology, critical review and conceptual development. You will be expected to produce regular work based on your own research.
Supervision and support
Throughout your degree you will be supported by a dedicated supervisory team.
This usually consists of a Director of Studies (the person with the greatest expertise of the project) and a second supervisor. If you are collaborating with a company or institution you may also have a third supervisor.
Projects can be inter-disciplinary and draw on knowledge from two or more Schools. All students are encouraged to discuss any issues with their Postgraduate Research Tutor or Professional Doctorate Course Leader and their Research Student Representative or Professional Doctorate Course Representative.
Our Doctoral School Administration Team will be your first point of contact for research degrees and will help you throughout the application process. If you are successful in your application, they will then be there to assist you throughout your period of study.
As a research student you will have access to a wealth of our services, including: