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What does a PhD involve?

A PhD involves undertaking a supervised research project. Although there are opportunities to attend skills training and specialist seminars, a PhD typically does not involve any formal taught element, it is wholly research based.

How long does it last?

The PhD is normally designed to extend over three years full-time or five years part-time. However, certain PhD degrees are offered on a four-year full-time basis. PhD students at UCL are required to register initially for the MPhil qualification; the upgrade procedure from MPhil to PhD registration is an important step in your programme and usually takes place between 12 and 18 months into your research. It is also possible to register with the intention of graduating with the MPhil degree.

The PhD is assessed by a written thesis of no more than 100,000 words and an oral viva. This thesis must demonstrate the candidate’s capacity to pursue original research in their field of study and represent a distinct and significant contribution to the subject, whether through the discovery of new knowledge, the connection of previously unrelated facts, the development of new theory or the revision of older views. It should show the exercise of critical judgement with regard to both the candidate’s own work and that of other scholars in the field.

What is an MD (Res)?

The Doctor of Medicine (Research) is a research based degree aimed specifically at individuals in clinical practice who wish to undertake a piece of supervised research associated with their employment. 

Students must be registered for a minimum of two calendar years either full-time or part-time before submitting a thesis for examination. The thesis, of no more than 50,000 words, may deal with any branch of medicine, surgery, or medical or dental science.

It must form a distinct contribution to the knowledge of the subject and afford evidence of originality by the discovery of new facts and/or by the exercise of independent critical thought.

Applicants should hold a registered primary qualification in Medicine (e.g. MBBS), and be eligible for full registration or hold limited registration with the General Medical Council (GMC). Applicants are normally hospital clinicians undertaking research associated with their employment.

What qualifications are necessary?

Formal entry requirements for a PhD will normally be either a first or upper-second class UK Bachelor’s degree in an appropriate subject, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard from a recognised higher education institution, or a recognised taught Master’s degree.

All students whose first language is not English must be able to provide recent evidence that their spoken and written command of the English language is adequate for the programmes for which they have applied.

The English language proficiency requirements for the Ear Institute are currently set at the standard level.

It is in your own interests to check that you meet these requirements as early as possible before spending time applying for a PhD. Also be aware that fulfilling these formal qualifications does not mean you will be able to do a PhD –you need to find a supervisor who is willing to work with you and funding to cover all the costs associated with a PhD.

What fees are involved?

As well as these fees the cost of the research needs to be taken into account -this can vary greatly with different research projects. Sometimes this element will be covered by the supervisor’s own research funding but this is not always the case.

Students can be self-funded or they can apply for studentships that have already been awarded to specific supervisors and projects by research councils or charitable organisations. Usually the studentship will cover the costs of tuition fees, a stipend for the student living expenses and some research expenses.

UCL also has some scholarships which you can apply for once you have identified a supervisor and research project and

How do I find a PhD?

  • There are 2 main ways to find a PhD:

    1) Apply for a studentship. These are packages of funding that cover tuition fees, student living expenses and often some research expenses. Usually they will have been awarded to specific supervisors or programmes. They are advertised throughout the year so you will need to regularly check relevant websites such as FindaPhD.com.

    Ear Institute PhD studentships will be advertised on our website and on the UCL Research Studentships Page. Some UCL-wide schemes such as Grand Challenge Studentships also offer projects supervised by Ear Institute staff. This type of scheme changes regularly according to funding availability so you will need to look around UCL’s website to find the latest UCL funding schemes. Occasionally we are also involved with studentships associated with neuroscience. Follow these links:

  • 2) Speculative. If you can’t find a studentship in a research project that interests you or you have your own funding, the best way to find a PhD project is to approach a potential supervisor directly. You can find a summary of the research interests of each of our supervisors here in the "supervisors" tab and a more detailed description on the webpage of each principal investigator. Approach the supervisor as early as possible- even a year in advance, they may be applying for funding and might be interested in nominating someone for the studentship if they identify a good candidate.

    TIP: Remember that many researchers are approached by a large number of potential students many of whom will be unsuitable. Make sure you differentiate yourself and provide documentation of your suitability for undertaking a PhD in this area. We have provided an expression of interest form that you can use to do this; it covers the major information that supervisors will ask for. Supervisors will also be able to help you find funding sources.

What happens next?

    • Once you have found a supervisor, agreed a research project and have funding in place you will need to go through the formal admissions process for entry to UCL which can be done online. If accepted, you will then receive an offer letter.

      UCL Online Admissions Portal 

Still have a question?

    • If you've still got a question, you can contact our Post Graduate Administrator, Rhakee Ryatt.