Develop your own self-funded PhD proposal

If you have your own research idea, we can help you to develop it. To begin this process you will need to find a PhD Supervisor from one of our research groups, whose research interests align with your own.

1. Find a PhD Supervisor in a relevant Research Group

View our list of Research Groups to identify Supervisors in each area. You will need to contact them, with an outline of your research interests and a copy of your CV, to discuss your application.

  • Chemical Engineering

    Investigating all the relevant aspects of chemical and biochemical engineering, from fundamental science to engineering applications.

  • E-MIT and Electronics

    A leading group focusing on research spanning from digital electronics and materials to high-frequency applications.

  • Energy

    Addressing major scientific and technological challenges in emerging energy technologies and sustainability.

  • Nuclear Science and Engineering

    Our approach in nuclear research covers instrumentation, robotic, and chemical engineering.

  • Structures, Materials and Manufacturing

    Understanding functional materials, composite systems, structural health monitoring, production processes and technologies.

2. Develop your proposal with your PhD Supervisor

As part of your discussions with potential supervisors and the application process, we will require a research proposal on the area(s) you are interested in joining us to study. This proposal will be used to help us determine who will be the most suitable potential academic supervisor(s) for your research.

We recommend that a research proposal includes the following:

  • a section that defines and characterises your selected research area
  • a section that briefly surveys and sums up the state of the research in this area
  • a section that identifies deficiencies in the research area which you would like to address in your PhD
  • a section that outlines some possible research directions that you might pursue
  • a section detailing the methods you envisage using in your studies
  • who within the School of Engineering appears best qualified to supervise you
  • a list of references that you cite in the above sections

Further information on writing a research proposal. Please note that your proposal is open to negotiation with your supervisor and may change before and even during your PhD.

To apply, create an account on the My Applications website and then select Create a new application from your homepage once you are logged in.

On the My Applications website, you can submit applications for what you wish to study, upload supporting documentation and provide us with information about referees. You may apply for all our postgraduate programmes using this method.

Start dates

You can apply at any time of the year for PhD study, but you will need to select one of the predefined start dates:

  • October
  • January
  • April
  • July

In certain circumstances, we can arrange an alternative start date.

If you are applying for funding, are applying from overseas or require on-campus accommodation, we recommend that you can apply as early as possible.

After you apply, we asses your submission in the Admissions Office. It is then sent through to the School for consideration. This process can take up to three weeks. Please make sure you submit all the essential documents; otherwise, this will delay your application.

Once we receive your application in the School, we send it to potential supervisors, unless you have already identified a supervisor for your research.

We then decide on your application. The Admissions Office communicate this decision via your application portal and via email.

Fees and Funding

Our Postgraduate Research Tuition Fees are displayed on individual programme pages that can be found here. Information on the funding available, tuition fees and living costs in Lancaster are at Postgraduate Fees and Funding.


  • Additive Manufacturing

    We have a wide range of 3D printers and additive manufacturing technology, allowing you to easily create bespoke components for your projects.

  • Robotics

    Our robotics laboratory is specially catered for designing and making robots for use in hazardous locations, such as nuclear power plants.

  • Wave Energy Tank

    Our wave tank is a valuable teaching aid. This allows us to observe the behaviour of surface waves and how they can affect large-scale engineering projects.

  • Chemical Labs

    Our chemical laboratories allow us to engineer better materials for new technological developments. You will study corrosion, conductivity and electrochemical impedance.

  • Nuclear Engineering

    Our Neutron and UTGARD laboratories allow us to research and develop the latest benefits of nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is used in a wide range of sectors, from healthcare to national security.

  • Microwave and Millimetre Wave

    We work with Lancaster's Quantum Technology Centre and the Cockroft Institute for Accelerator Science & Technology allowing us to research mixed signal electronics and microfluidic technologies.

  • Fuel Cells

    We have two fuel cell laboratories, including a gas-safe laboratory for the 24-hour running of fuel cells. We investigate the area of electrochemical energy conversion and storage.

  • Materials Science

    We are working to understand and engineer how materials interact through their surfaces and interfaces. Our facilities allow us to model materials from the electronic and molecular structure, up to large scale simulations.