Self-Funded PhDs

Book a place on our Open Days on Saturday 13th July 2019 to discover how we can provide the opportunity for you to develop your knowledge and further your career.

As part of our vibrant community of PhD students, you will make a direct contribution to the world-class research of the Graduate School, and develop the skills you need to enjoy a rewarding career.

Whatever your field of interest in relation to the environment – whether in the natural or social sciences – the size and scope of the Graduate School for the Environment means that you are guaranteed to find a suitably stimulating research project to work on.

Support structure

As a PhD student, you will immediately become a valued member of a research group, each of which is headed up by one of our internationally respected academics and supported by an array of post-doctoral research associates and technicians.

You will make your personal contribution to the group – and be taught the research skills you need – under the guidance of one or more supervisors specifically chosen to suit your area of interest. It is with the support of your supervisors and your research group colleagues that you will be able to extract full value from your time at the Graduate School.

How to Apply

To begin the process you will need to find a PhD Supervisor whose research interests align with your own. 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.

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 will be used to help us determine who will be the most suitable potential academic supervisor(s) for your research.

It is recommended 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 LEC 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(s) and may change before and even during your PhD.

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

Using your account on the My Applications website, you are able to submit applications for the programme(s), which 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. The PhD programmes available in LEC are PhD in Biological Sciences, Environmental Science and Geography.

Current Lancaster Students

If you are a current Lancaster student, or you have recently graduated from Lancaster, we can reduce the amount of information that you will need to provide as part of your application. You will need to provide only one reference and will not need to supply your Lancaster degree transcript. We will also pre-fill your personal details, ready for you to check.

If you use the My Applications website then you will be advised which documentation you need to upload or send to us. We can automatically contact your referees once you have submitted your application if you ask us to.

The supporting documentation screen will provide you with a list of required documents. These will usually include:

  • a personal statement to help us understand why you wish to study your chosen degree, including a section on how you will fund your PhD study
  • a CV
  • a research proposal with named potential supervisors; Link back to research proposal section
  • degree certificates and transcripts of previous higher education (college/university) degrees or other courses that you have completed/for which you are currently studying
  • for transcripts in languages other than English, a certified English translation will be required
  • two references
  • copies of English language test results, if English is not your first language. Lancaster University accepts these English language tests

Applications will be considered once complete. As part of the application process applicants will require an interview with the potential supervisors, this will be either in person or by phone or Skype.

You can apply at any time of the year for PhD study, but you have to start at one of the predefined start dates of October, January or April. In some circumstances, a July start date will be considered. If you are applying for funding, are applying from overseas or require on-campus accommodation, we recommend that you apply as early as possible.

Information on the funding available, tuition fees and living costs in Lancaster is at Postgraduate Fees and Funding. Please note LEC does not have funding available for applicants who apply with their own proposal, because all funding is allocated to the specific projects which are advertised at Funded PhDs (link to the page). Therefore, applicants will need to obtain their own funding; typically, this will be from their own country.

Research Groups

In each of the research groups, you can find a list of academics which may match your area of interest.

Study Areas

Doctoral Training

You can also apply for a PhD at one of the Doctoral Training Centres and Partnerships that work with the Graduate School for the Environment.