How to Apply

As an applicant to become a PhD student at the Graduate School for the Environment, you will receive a warm welcome and plenty of constructive advice on how best to shape your research proposal.

The precise way you apply to become a PhD student at the Graduate School depends on whether you are organising your own funding or if you wish to take up one of our advertised funded studentships.

Checking your eligibility

If you would like detailed advice on your eligibility to study for a PhD at the Graduate School, please get in touch with the Graduate School Office. As a general guideline, you will require a Masters degree (or equivalent) and/or first degree (normally 1st class or 2:1 or equivalent) in an appropriate subject. And if English is not your first language you will also require a recognised English language qualification, such as:

  • IELTS: 6.5 (with at least 6 in each section)
  • Pearson PTE: 62 (with 51 in each communication skill)
  • Cambridge English Proficiency: Grade C

Arranging a visit

Rather than organising general open days for PhD applicants, we encourage you to make an individual visit. This gives you a chance to get a feel for the place, and to discuss your research plans with one or more of your potential supervisors. If you wish to visit the Graduate School please contact the Graduate School Office with a selection of dates and an indication of the supervisor or supervisors you wish to talk to. You are also welcome to contact academic supervisors directly to discuss your research plans.


Applying for a funded studentship

If you are applying for a funded studentship, you need to follow the instructions detailed on the relevant advert. Generally speaking this will involve uploading your CV together with a covering letter outlining your background and suitability for the studentship. You will then need to arrange for two references to be submitted to us by the relevant closing date. If you are successful and are offered one of the studentships, you then need to follow the additional University application procedure as detailed below.


Applying as a self-funded student

If you would like to apply as a self-funded PhD student the important first step is to identify who within the Graduate School is best qualified to supervise you. We strongly suggest that you contact potential supervisors directly, in advance of making an application, to discuss your research project. They will help you to develop research ideas and prepare your application.

Research Groups

If you need help in finding a suitable supervisor for your PhD please contact the Graduate School Office.

Research Proposal

For your application you will need to write a research proposal outlining what you want to get out of your studies at the Graduate School. This should include:

  • the research area you are interested in (e.g. ecology, human geography)
  • the potential supervisors of your project
  • the research question or questions you are specifically interested in (e.g. what is the impact of climate change on butterfly distributions?)
  • the hypotheses you envisage testing
  • the methods you envisage using in your studies
  • any other information which may be relevant

Your research proposal will be one of the documents that you submit as part of the application procedure.


Application Procedure

To make your application you need to use the University’s online My Applications website. You will need the following documentation to support your application:

  • Your degree transcripts and certificates, including certified English translations (if applicable)
  • Two references
  • Copies of any English language test results (if English is not your first language)
  • A personal statement to help us understand why you wish to study your chosen degree

If you are a current Lancaster University student, you will not need to provide your Lancaster degree transcript and only need to provide one reference.

Taking part in an interview

If you have applied for a funded studentship and are selected for interview, this will usually take place at Lancaster. The majority of self-funded applicants are interviewed via phone or Skype unless you are based locally or are close enough to visit.

When to apply

You can apply at any time of the year to be a self-funded PhD student. If you wish to be considered for a funded studentship, published application deadlines are stated on the relevant advert.

The standard months for admission are October, January and April (usually 1st of the month for fee purposes) as the Graduate School holds induction events in these months. If your research or funding dictates that you start at a different time to the standard months then this is possible and can be discussed at the time of your application.

Further information

If you would like more information before applying, or if you have any queries during the application process, please contact the Graduate School Office.