The University continues to be committed to excellence in research and encourages graduates in all disciplines to consider studying for a PhD – the highest award conferred by the university, or an MPhil. To this end, the university offers the opportunity to study for a PhD or MPhil in any subject area where we have relevant research expertise, in discussion with the Academic Group, Research Institute or Research Centre. As a postgraduate research student you would become a member of one of these communities. 

The Nature of a Research Degree  

Research degrees offer you the opportunity to develop and demonstrate your ability to undertake research into an area of personal or professional interest. For PhD the research must be original, i.e. it must make a contribution to knowledge in the field. Different routes are offered in different subjects. If you are considering a research degree now or in the future, you should contact the relevant Research Coordinator in the first instance. This will help inform you of the types of research specialism that we are able to support.  A list of the Research Coordinators in each academic area can be found on the how to apply web page. 

At the outset of your research degree you will determine your area of study and develop an outline of your research project with a supervisor who has expertise in the proposed area. You will then carry out the agreed research programme, under supervision and with regular progress monitoring according to your supervisors’ and the University’s requirements. Successful completion of your research degree will require you to satisfactorily present and defend a thesis (or equivalent) in oral examination. As a guide, the typically required word lengths of submissions presented for research degrees by thesis conform to the following:

  • for PhD in Science, Engineering, Art and Design 40,000 words
  • for MPhil in Science, Engineering, Art and Design 20,000 words
  • for PhD in Arts, Social Sciences and Education 80,000 words
  • for MPhil in Arts, Social Sciences and Education 40,000 words

Where such a thesis is accompanied by material in other than written form or the research involves creative writing or the preparation of a scholarly edition, the written thesis or equivalent should normally be within the range:

  • for PhD 30,000 - 40,000 words
  • for MPhil 15,000 - 20,000 words

In the case of PhD by published work or practice , the critical commentary should normally be at least 10,000 words in length.

Studying for a research degree is an intensive and demanding commitment and a uniquely rewarding experience that can change your life as well as your career. That is why, across the University, considerable practical and academic support is offered to all research students. During your studies you will be supported by a supervisory team who will guide you in the development of your project. They will offer advice and encouragement at every stage, helping you to develop increasing independence as you gain knowledge of your field. You will also broaden your knowledge of research training by attending and/or engaging with the University’s postgraduate research student development programme and related research seminars hosted on campus or at national or international conferences.

We will ensure you that have access to all the materials you need to undertake your research. The small and friendly environment of the University means you will have ready opportunities to share ideas and concepts. We also offer office facilities as well as first-rate IT services, campus-wide wireless and the option of remote access to all University systems.

Usually, candidates intending to pursue the PhD by Thesis are admitted to the ‘PhD via MPhil’ and must undergo a ‘transfer’ process just prior to the half-way point of their programme to validate their continuation to PhD (or, unusually, their reversion to the MPhil degree). Admission to the ‘PhD direct’ may however be permitted for students who hold a Master's degree from a higher education institution, provided that the degree is in a discipline which is appropriate to the proposed research and that the Master's degree included training in research and the execution of a research project. The Board of Studies for Research Degrees will ultimately decide on a candidate’s registration at the time it considers their application to register for a research degree, 4-6 months following initial enrolment.

Students wishing to follow a programme of study leading to a research degree may be admitted as full-time or part-time students of the University. In either case, applicants may signal their intention to undertake the programme of research significantly or wholly at a distance from the University.

Start dates

A list of our available start dates and apply by dates can be found on the how to apply web page. 

 

Master of Philosophy (MPhil)  

Award overview

The MPhil is awarded to a candidate who, having critically investigated and evaluated an approved topic and demonstrated an understanding of research methods appropriate to the chosen field, has presented and defended a thesis by oral examination. Masters degrees are awarded to students who have demonstrated:

(i) a systematic understanding of knowledge and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of their academic discipline, field of study, or area of professional practice;

(ii) a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship;

(iii) originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline;

(iv) conceptual understanding that enables the student:

• to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline;

and

• to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses.

Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

(a) deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgments in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences;

(b) demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level;

(c) continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level; and will have:

(d) the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring:

• the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility;

• decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations; and

• the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.

Duration

18 months to 2 years (full-time); 3 to 4 years (part-time)

Entry requirements

You should have a good honours degree, or equivalent, in a relevant subject. If English is not your first language you will also normally need IELTS 6.5 (or equivalent).

If your research topic is suitable, it is also possible to apply to undertake research leading specifically to one of the following named MPhil awards:

i) MPhil (E-commerce)

ii) MPhil (Pedagogy)

iii) MPhil (Psychological Aspects of Counselling)

iv) MPhil (Psychology)

v) MPhil (Special Needs Education)

In addition, we offer a further, tailored MPhil programme leading to MPhil (Innovation) as described below.

 

Master of Philosophy (MPhil) (Innovation)  

Award overview

The MPhil (Innovation) is a unique approach to developing new ideas for potential commercialisation. It has been developed following collaborative work between various faculties specialising in arts, media, education, business and creative technologies and the Institute of Materials Research and Innovation.

The qualification will be of relevance if you have a personal research interest, if you are working in a research and development role in one of these fields, or in a sector where these different disciplines overlap.

As an MPhil student you will have the opportunity to use the research challenges you are working on as the basis of your study, enabling you to work towards a postgraduate degree through the publication, prototyping and commercialisation plans of your innovative research and development proposal. In addition, you will have access to the University’s resources and research expertise as further support for your development idea. The principles of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship will be central to your MPhil study in order to enhance and reinforce your technical and business skills, and support your personal and professional development in your area of expertise.

Subject overview

The MPhil thesis will consist of three sections: publication, for which you will publish a paper in an international journal or present it at an international conference, or have a provisional patent accepted prototype, for which you will provide a detailed description of a designed and tested prototype ready for production, including capabilities and limitations (all prototypes will be displayed at an exhibition); and business plan, giving a comprehensive path to commercialisation, which includes details of all routes to market, timeframes, associated investments needed and costs.

Duration

18 months to 2 years (full-time); 3 to 4 years (part-time)

Entry requirements

You should have a good honours degree, or equivalent, in a relevant subject. If English is not your first language you will also normally need IELTS 6.5 (or equivalent).

 

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) By Thesis  

Award overview

The PhD by thesis is awarded to a candidate who, having critically investigated and evaluated an approved topic resulting in an independent and original contribution to knowledge and demonstrated an understanding of research methods appropriate to the chosen field, has presented and defended a thesis. This PhD programme is designed for those who wish to pursue supervised research at doctoral level leading to the production of a traditional thesis which will be considered as an original and independent contribution to knowledge and justify the award of a PhD. It is possible to apply for and to be registered for the PhD either ‘direct’ or ‘via MPhil’.

Doctorates (whether by thesis, published work, or practice) are awarded to students who have demonstrated:

(i) the creation and interpretation of new knowledge, through original research or other advanced scholarship, of a quality to satisfy peer review, extend the forefront of the discipline, and merit publication;

(ii) a systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge which is at the forefront of an academic discipline or area of professional practice;

(iii) the general ability to conceptualise, design and implement a project for the generation of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of the discipline, and to adjust the project design in the light of unforeseen problems;

(iv) a detailed understanding of applicable techniques for research and advanced academic enquiry.

Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

(a) make informed judgments on complex issues in specialist fields, often in the absence of complete data, and be able to communicate their ideas and conclusions clearly and effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences;

(b) continue to undertake pure and/or applied research and development at an advanced level, contributing substantially to the development of new techniques, ideas, or approaches; and will have:

(c) the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and largely autonomous initiative in complex and unpredictable situations, in professional or equivalent environments.

Duration

3 to 4 years (full-time); 5 to 7 years (part-time)

Entry requirements

Normally, you should have at least an upper second class honours degree (2.1) or equivalent in a relevant subject. A postgraduate qualification and/or some research training or relevant professional development is desirable. You will be interviewed (this may be over the telephone or online for non-UK-based applicants). If English is not your first language you will also normally need IELTS 6.5 (or equivalent).

 

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) By Published Work (Route A)  

Award overview

This programme is designed for those whose work is primarily in research or involves a substantial research element and enables them to receive academic credit for that work, assuming it is at doctoral level.

Route A is for people who already have substantial publications to their credit and enables candidates, with the help and advice of academic supervisors, to select the most appropriate publications for inclusion in their submission and to prepare a 10–15,000-word critical commentary which contextualises, analyses and makes the case for the publications to be considered as an original and independent contribution to knowledge and therefore justify the award of a PhD.

(Route B (see below) is available on a full or part-time basis for people who have no or few publications.)

Duration

12 to 24 months (part-time)

Entry requirements

Normally, you should have at least an upper second class honours degree (2.1) or equivalent in a relevant subject. A postgraduate qualification and/or some research training or relevant professional development is desirable. You will be interviewed (this may be over the telephone or online for non-UK-based applicants). If English is not your first language you will also normally need IELTS 6.5 (or equivalent).

 

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) By Published Work (Route B)  

Award overview

This programme is designed for those whose work is primarily in research or involves a substantial research element and enables them to receive academic credit for that work, assuming it is at doctoral level.

Route B is for people who have no or few publications and enables candidates, with the help and advice of academic supervisors, to prepare and submit for publication suitable outputs such as journal articles, book chapters or books, software or patents.

Candidates will also prepare a 10–15,000-word critical commentary which contextualises, analyses and makes the case for the publications to be considered as an original and independent contribution to knowledge and therefore justify the award of a PhD.

(Route A (see above) is available on a part-time basis for people who already have substantial publications to their credit.)

Duration

3 to 4 years (full-time); 5 to 7 years (part-time)

Entry requirements

Normally, you should have at least a upper second class honours degree (2.1) or equivalent in a relevant subject. A postgraduate qualification and/or some research training or relevant professional development is desirable. You will be interviewed (this may be over the telephone or online for non-UK-based applicants). If English is not your first language you will also normally need IELTS 6.5 (or equivalent).

 

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) By Practice (Route A)  

Award overview

This programme is designed for those whose work involves them in innovative and advanced professional or creative practice and enables them to receive academic credit for that work, assuming it is at doctoral level. Route A is for people who already have substantial evidence of that practice and enables candidates, with the help and advice of academic and professional supervisors, to select the most appropriate evidence for inclusion in their submission and to prepare a 10–15,000-word critical commentary which contextualises, analyses and makes the case for the publications to be considered as an original and independent contribution to knowledge and therefore justify the award of a PhD.

(Route B (see below) is available on a full or part-time basis and is for people who have yet to develop their practice to an appropriate level.)

Duration

12 to 24 months (part-time)

Entry requirements

Normally, you should have at least an upper second class honours degree (2.1) or equivalent in a relevant subject. A postgraduate qualification and/or some research training or relevant professional development is desirable. You will be interviewed (this may be over the telephone or online for non-UK-based applicants). If English is not your first language you will also normally need IELTS 6.5 (or equivalent).

 

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) By Practice (Route B)  

Award overview

This programme is designed for those whose work involves them in innovative and advanced professional or creative practice and enables them to receive academic credit for that work, assuming it is at doctoral level. Route B is for those who have yet to develop their practice to an appropriate level.

In Route B you will be assisted by the academic supervisors in the creation and submission of a portfolio of evidence which demonstrates your professional or creative practice. You will prepare and submit a 10–15,000-word critical commentary which contextualises, analyses and makes the case for your portfolio of evidence to be considered as an original and independent contribution to knowledge and therefore justify the award of a PhD.

(Route A (see above) is available on a part-time basis for people who already have substantial evidence of their involvement in project(s) that show innovative advanced professional or creative practice.)

Duration

3 to 4 years (full-time); 5 to 7 years (part-time)

Entry requirements

Normally, you should have at least an upper second class honours degree (2.1) or equivalent in a relevant subject. A postgraduate qualification and/or some research training or relevant professional development is desirable. You will be interviewed (this may be over the telephone or online for non-UK-based applicants). If English is not your first language you will also normally need IELTS 6.5 (or equivalent).

 

How to Apply  

After you have read the description of the relevant research environment available on the Research and Graduate School home page and have contacted the appropriate Research Coordinator to discuss your research proposal, you may apply directly by submitting a completed application form

Note that all prospective research students will be required to undertake an interview, though if appropriate this may take the form of a telephone or online interview. Invitation to interview does not guarantee you will be offered a place. The University also reserves the right to request a portfolio of appropriate work or administer any other test to determine an applicant’s suitability for study prior to their enrolment with the University.

You are welcome to come and look around campus without arranging a visit or you can attend a postgraduate open day, details of which are published on the open days web pages.

For any other guidance or information, please contact the Research and Graduate School, Tel: +44 (0)1204 903883; Email: Research-Admin@bolton.ac.uk

 

Indicative Fees  

For a guide to tuition and other fees for postgraduate research students, see our Tuition fees for postgraduate research students web page.