PhD students

How to Apply

Applying for a Phd programme is a simple process and we accept applicants throughout the year. Discover our fees and range of studentships and funding opportunities to help you finance your postgraduate studies.

Application Process

All applications for UK, EU and International applicants must be completed using our online application system where you can complete the form, upload your supporting documents and track the progress of your application. It's best to apply early as competition for places is intense.


The online system will require you to provide the below documents:

  • Degree transcripts for undergraduate and Masters study
  • Two references (at least one should be an academic reference)
  • A research proposal, which will help us identify an appropriate supervisor(s) for your areas of research. 

A strong research proposal should be up to 5,000 words and should include the below elements. Keep it clear, manageable and relevant to the subject areas covered within LUMS.

  • A working title of the topic - this needs to do more than convey the key words associated with the proposed research
  • General overview - a brief summary of the general area of study and the disciplines within which it falls. Introduce the ways that your own background gives you competence in this area.
  • Relevant literature - develop your proposal to show that you are aware of the debates and issues raised in relevant articles and texts, and demonstrate that your proposed area is original.
  • Key questions - demonstrate that the proposal is manageable in the timeframe and that the questions are feasible and original.
  • Methodology - demonstrate an awareness of the methodological tools available to you, and the approach you feel will be most appropriate
  • Timescales and planning - explain your awareness of planning and timescales of your research
  • Bibliography - include a short list of references to key articles and texts included in your application


Before you submit your application, we encourage you to suggest potential supervisors for your studies by reviewing the research interests of academics on our website and evaluating synergies with your own proposed topic area. 

When you are ready to submit it, you will need to visit our online application system where you can complete the form, upload your supporting documents and track the progress of your application. It's best to apply early as competition for places is intense.

Once an application has been received, the Doctoral Director for the relevant programme will circulate it to any academics they feel might be suitable/interested in supervising the project (including any suggested by you) for review.

Reviewing academics will consider both their capacity to supervise you and your ability to complete doctoral level research within a required timeframe and to Lancaster’s high standards in order to decide whether we should offer you a place to study with us.

We will carefully review your application, and our offers are dependent upon the availability of suitable academics with the knowledge, interest and capacity to supervise your proposed studies, and on your proposal offering the potential to contribute to our excellent standard of research within the School. 

We make every effort to find supervisors for quality proposals, but please note that meeting the basic entry criteria may not automatically result in the offer of a place. 

Allocating a supervisor

Matching you with a supervisor is an important step to create a long lasting relationship that will shape your doctoral studies. We recommend reading the LUMS staff profiles and some of their research papers to find potential matches for your interests. As part of your application, you can mention the member of staff who is closest to your interests, and we will invite them to consider supervising you. Our places are limited, so it's best to apply early and be flexible in your research topic.

Studentships and Funding

Our studentships and funding opportunities for PhD study are available through Lancaster University, through the UK's research councils, and through various other organisations. We provide below the details of four different types of studentships, which include fees and a living allowance, and further links for other funding opportunities.

Tab Content: Studentships & Loans

LUMS Scholarships - All students

A number of LUMS Studentships are available which include a fee waiver and a stipend of approximately £14,777 per annum. Applicants should indicate that they wish to be considered for a Doctoral Studentship on their application form (under the section on proposed source of funding and in the personal statement) so that they can automatically be considered: there are no separate studentship application forms.

These studentships are available for all the PhD programmes offered by LUMS and for students of any nationality. This is a generous programme of awards, allocated on a competitive basis, which is intended to support promising researchers to undertake their PhD studies in LUMS. Students receiving these studentships will be required to undertake some teaching and/or marking activities.

Eligibility: all students
Deadline for applications: 17th April 2020. Please note if you are planning to apply for an ESRC award the deadline for this is the 3rd February 2020.


Programme Studentships - Management Science only

Currently, the Department of Management Science offers programme-specific funded studentships aimed at high achieving applicants. 

Eligibility: Management Science applicants only

Interests: Our interests cover information systems and the digital economy; operational research; and operations management, including supply chain and logistics. Supervision is available in all these areas.

More Details: We have a large group of PhD candidates and are seeking others to join them. The funding covers fees and living costs and are currently only available for full time study. Details of potential PhD topics can be found on the Management Science PhD page. For more details, please contact Ms Gay Bentinck.

Deadline: Please note that there are two deadlines for Departmental funding applications which are 31 December and 15 February each year for October admission.  


Commonwealth Scholarships

Commonwealth Scholarships are prestigious awards and are very valuable for international students. They are available on a competitive basis.

Eligibility: overseas students


Postgraduate Doctoral Loan

If you’re starting a doctoral degree on or after 1 August 2018, you could get a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan of up to £25,000 to help with course fees and living costs. It isn’t based on your income or your family’s and it’s paid directly to you. You’ll be able to apply from summer 2018. Please visit the website for more information.


Additional Information

Plenty of websites provide information about funding opportunities. We would suggest overseas applicants to consider the website of the British Council for helpful information. Among the many other sources, we suggest the following links:

Tab Content: ESRC Awards

Lancaster University forms part of the Economic and Social Research Council's (ESRC) North West Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership (NWSSDTP), which offers a large number of studentships covering tuition and providing a living allowance. Details of the provision and funding offered by the NWSSDTP are available on the NWSSDTP website.

  • Eligibility for UK students: no restrictions 
  • Eligibility for EU students: restrictions apply; please check the ESRC website or contact us for details
  • Eligibility for overseas students: eligible to apply for a full award in Economics and topics classed as Advanced Quantitative Methods. For other pathways restrictions apply; please check the ESRC website or contact us for details.

If you are interested in applying for an ESRC Studentship, please contact Sarah Patterson.

Deadline for applications: 3 February 2020

 ESRC logo

Tab Content: STOR-i

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Statistics and Operational Research in partnership with industry (STOR-i) is a collaboration between Lancaster's Department of Mathematics and Statistics and the Department of Management Science. STOR-i's goal is the development of international research leaders through a programme in which industrial challenge is the catalyst for mathematical innovation. The Centre's distinctive mission is based on a partnership with several of the UK's leading companies across a range of sectors, including AstraZeneca, BT, IBM, Shell and SSE. 

Further details can be found on the STOR-i website.


Tab Content: EPSRC

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) provides funding opportunities to support world-leading research. We are looking to recruit researchers in the Department of Management Science who will:

  • Be based with the Department of Management Science
  • Be excellent doctoral students with a strong quantitative background (including mathematics, physics, computer science and engineering)
  • Satisfy the UK residency requirement for full EPSRC support (usually met by EU students whose undergraduate studies were in the UK) for PhD study in any area of the department's OR research portfolio.

Application Details

To apply you will need to provide your full CV and a covering letter in which you should indicate which area is of interest to you (and why) and some possible topics for research.

If you are short-listed, we will contact you to put you in touch with potential supervisors for the development of a fuller research proposal. For more information contact Gay Bentinck: e-mail  or phone +44 (0)1524 592408. Applications will be processed as soon as they are received, and short-listed candidates will be invited to interview.

Tab Content: OR-MASTER

4-Year PhD studentships in Mathematical Models and Algorithms for Managing Airport Capacity

“Mathematical Models and Algorithms for Allocating Scarce Airport Resources” (OR-MASTER) is a six year Programme Grant funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).  OR-MASTER aims to develop new mathematical models and algorithms for solving complex, large-scale resource allocation problems, with the ultimate goal of developing innovative decision support capabilities for airport capacity allocation and management. These studentships provide great opportunities for individuals to develop their mathematics/computer science skills while making a contribution to an area of immense importance to society.

The Programme represents a strong partnership between academia and the air transport industry.  Over the six years of the Programme, OR-MASTER will involve close collaboration with a host of international organisations (including airports, air traffic management organisations, airlines, ground handling services providers and global security organisations; international research centres and research networks) that will support the project, providing real-world data, insights and expertise.  There will be opportunities to work closely with our partners.

Further information can be found here: OR-MASTER PhD Studentships 2018

The complete application consisting of a cover letter (that includes a statement of your understanding of the project), curriculum vitae, transcripts and a recommendation letter needs to be sent to the indicated contact address.