Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree is the highest rated research degree awarded by UWS.

As the highest academic level of study, a PhD is rigorous and demanding. Most students are passionate about their area of interest and pursue a PhD as a result of their scientific and academic curiosity. 

Candidates awarded a PhD are entitled to use the academic title Doctor before their name.  

PhD candidates typically emerge from MRes or MPhil studies, although some candidates apply directly having gained appropriate research experience. 

In most cases the PhD usually requires at least 33 months of full-time study, and requires the submission and oral defence (viva voce examination) of a thesis (typically 60-100,000 words, depending on your field of study) comprising original research undertaken by the candidate. 

PhDs are normally awarded to students who have completed a programme of supervised research training and critically evaluated an appropriate topic over not less than the equivalent of 33 months of full-time study that results in a significant contribution to knowledge.

A PhD is generally a pre-requisite for a successful career in academia, and can help you to secure senior research and management roles in government agencies and companies. A PhD from the University of the West of Scotland enable you to work at the cutting-edge of your industry or sector and contribute to the advancement of knowledge.

To be a successful research student you must be passionate about your subject area, with enthusiasm for research and analysis, and the motivation to manage a personal learning programme. You will have already demonstrated research aptitude in undergraduate or masters-level studies.

As a career-focused university we work with international businesses, regional enterprises, local and international education partners to ensure that UWS research drives innovation and supports the future needs of society, industry and government. This focus increases your employability and career prospects, whether you seek a career in an academic or commercial environment.

Why do Research at UWS?

UWS’s research vision is to deliver transformational change through outputs that have a tangible, early and positive impact on society across the globe.

We have a proud record in developing effective partnerships with business, industry and the public and voluntary sectors across Scotland, and in many countries around the world. With our cutting-edge facilities, practical knowledge, and proven expertise, we aim to help our industry partners get ahead. We focus on what we do well and what we can achieve, identifying opportunities we can exploit and problems we can solve. The result is that our research work has a tangible, early and positive effect on society. Right here, right now, we are making the world a better place.

Every year our expert academics work with around 600 students, including more than 250 students from 25 countries, to support them through high-quality, highly-regarded research degrees at MRes, MPhil and PhD level.

With cutting-edge facilities, specialist knowledge and world-leading and internationally excellent expertise, UWS aims to develop research outputs that have a tangible impact on society across the globe.

The Application Process

UWS London has two intakes of PhD students per year, January and October. To apply you will need to demonstrate that you understand of the research process, the research that you are going to carry out and how you are going to carry out the research. To do this you will need to submit a research proposal that will be evaluated for its research potential.

Once your proposal has been evaluated you will be invited to take part in our Foundational Research Methods Course where you will be guided through all aspects of the research journey ahead and strengthen your research proposal if necessary. On completion of the Research Foundation you will then be apply to UWS London.

English Language requirements

For our research degrees (MRes, MPhil, PhD, DBA, DProf), applicants are required to have an IELTS score as follows:

  • overall score of 6.5
  • no sub-test less than 6.0

IELTS certificates should be dated within two years at the time of applying to study at UWS.

Areas of Research

Areas for the School of Business and Creative Industries

  • Accounting and Finance 
  • Marketing/Digital Marketing 
  • Management 
  • Entrepreneurship and Enterprise  

Areas for the School of Education and Social Sciences  

  • Educational Leadership 
  • Pedagogy and Curriculum 
  • Public policy and governance 
  • Global public health and social policy 

Supervisory Arrangements

Once you have been accepted onto our programme you will be allocated a supervisory team Supervision of postgraduate research students is undertaken by experienced, research-active members of academic staff. The School to which you are admitted is your base and will play a crucial role in providing guidance, resources and support for your research project. You and your project will have a Lead Supervisor and at least one other supervisor (2nd Supervisor) who will support your development and the progress of your research. In addition to Lead Supervisor and 2nd supervisor, an additional supervisor and advisor may be appointed to contribute particular specialist knowledge or a link with an external organisation. It is essential that you work closely and maintain regular contact with your supervisory team. There will be a statement of an agreement at confirmation of registration between the Lead Supervisor and the student as to an appropriate specified frequency of contact.

The Doctoral College

UWS Doctoral College provides support for our community of around 600 postgraduate research students at the university, creating an interdisciplinary research environment that enables the generation of impactful research.

The Doctoral College is here to ensure that your time as a doctoral candidate at UWS is as rewarding and enjoyable as possible and that you are prepared to meet your needs, expectations, and career ambitions. The Doctoral Training Programme will equip you for key roles in higher education and beyond, and enables you to make the most of the excitement and challenges of research.

Course Fees

Fees for 2023/24

Scottish — N/A

Rest of UK & Northern Ireland — N/A

International & EU — £18,000


Fees for 2024/25

Scottish — £4,712

Rest of UK & Northern Ireland — £4,712

International & EU — £15,500


Find out how you can pay for your course fees

Apply now

To apply for a PhD degree at UWS London, please submit an enquiry form and one of our admission’s officer will be in touch to book an initial interview to assess your suitability for the course.

After passing the interview, you will be required to submit your research proposal as per the guidelines below (text in the work document names research proposal guidelines).

London Campus: Research proposals

When applying for a PhD at the UWS London campus, we expect you to provide a research proposal of between 1500-2000 words (excluding reference list) which will normally include the following information.

Proposed Title

The proposed title of your research should include sufficient information to inform the reader as to the focus of the work, perhaps its conceptual framing and context. A good title will also help us to identify potential supervisors for your doctoral studies.

Introduction (circa 500 words)

In the introduction you should provide a clear background and justification for the study, including why it is important and what the research gap you’re planning to address is. Normally, the introduction would also outline the overarching research aim and some research objectives (and/or research questions) that guide the study. When making the case for the proposed research you can be expected to draw upon both academic and grey literatures.

Literature Review (circa 1000 words)

In a research proposal, reviewing the existing literature relating to your topic helps you to isolate the research gap that will form the basis of your original contribution to knowledge. Though there will be limitations as to what you can cover in a research proposal, this is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your knowledge of the field and your ability to synthesise and distil a larger body of literature into a concise form. It will help potential supervisors to assess how knowledgeable you are on your chosen topic while illustrating your critical thinking and writing skills. You may complete your literature review by stating or restating the study’s research questions.

Proposed Research Methodology (circa 500 words)

This section should detail how you will go about addressing your research questions in the form of an empirical investigation or approach to creative practice (this will depend on your field of study). You are expected to outline the overarching methodological approach and detail the methods you expect to employ. We recognise that you may not have every element of your methodology worked out but this section provides the reader with the opportunity to assess your understanding of research strategy and design and how realistic your data collection methods are.


Research proposals should include a full list of references used to inform your research proposal. These should be provided using the Harvard referencing system.

After submitting your research proposal, you will be taken through the admission process by our research department.

Please see application timeline for 2023 academic year.