Information Studies


Applying for a PhD in the Department of Information Studies

UCL Department of Information Studies is a leading centre for research in librarianship, information science, archives and records management, digital humanities and publishing. Students benefit from conducting research within the UK's largest library school at one of the world's top universities and are supervised by experienced and internationally known researchers. At UCL a doctorate is a research-based 3 to 4 year programme (5 years part-time) awarded on the basis of a thesis of approximately 100,000 words culminating in an oral defence (viva) in front of two examiners.

We welcome applications from excellent students whose research interests fit with those of the various Research Groups and Centres in DIS. Think about why you really want to study for a doctorate, what you hope to get out of it and where you think it might take you. A good fit means that we can provide appropriate expert supervision for your topic: have a look at the research interests of our academic staff. You are welcome to get in touch with any of our academics (by email is best) if you want to discuss your proposed research with them before you apply. Alternatively, you can email an abstract of your research proposal and a one page cv to the Departmental Graduate Tutor to check whether the subject area is covered in DIS. Contact the Research Administrator by email (ian.evans@ucl.ac.uk) with any queries.

To apply formally for the PhD, please complete an application form, which should include full transcripts of previous academic studies and appropriate references, at least one of which must be from an academic. A copy of your research proposal should also be included. Applicants need to write a research proposal of around 1500 words. The proposal will be an important part of your application and enables us to see whether we can supervise your topic. The proposal should include a provisional title, the purpose of the research to be undertaken or research questions you are hoping to investigate, a proposed methodology and initial bibliography. Please set out areas such as the background to the research, your research question and objectives, methods you expect to use, and indication as to how the research will be original.

International Students must also provide evidence of English Language proficiency, for example, IELTS overall grade of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each of the subsets.

Applications should be made to the UCL Registry using the online application system and not sent directly to DIS. We are not able to give you a formal response about your proposal unless you apply with full details.

For entry in September the application deadlines are:

  • January (14 January to be considered for UCL GRS-ORS-CSC Scholarships and 10 January to be considered for that LAHP scholarships competition) * Please note that as both these awards need Dept support and supervisor references early discussion and applications are highly recommended)
  • 23 July (open competition candidates)

Normally, DIS research students begin at the start of the new session, that is in the autumn term i.e. late September/ early October each year.

Once we have received your application, it will be reviewed by the Graduate Research Tutor and by academics in the relevant subject area or research group. If your application is not strong enough or if we think your subject is not one we can supervise, we will let you know after the shortlisting process. Some applicants will be invited to an interview with the Departmental Tutor and potential supervisors. Interviews can be conducted by Skype or telephone for applications resident abroad. You will be notified as soon as possible of the outcome of your application after the interview by a formal letter from UCL. The offer may be conditional, for instance on obtaining a certain grade in an academic or language examination. If you have any questions about your offer before you accept it, do ask.


We offer our research students a vibrant research culture and the opportunity to engage with researchers from different disciplines.

An important part of the DIS programme is the compulsory weekly research methods seminar programme (INST0056) for doctoral students. INST0056 is held in Term 1 and 2 during the first year of study  (irrespective of full time or part time status). At this seminar first year doctoral students will be introduced to the formal requirements of doctoral study; to the theoretical and methodological approaches which frame research and research design. Over the two semesters, new doctoral students will meet Departmental researchers who will share their own experience in research methods, publication, networking, career development and public engagement with students. These classes help to foster the research culture, to build research skills and to prepare students for milestones such a(s upgrade and their future research careers. Doctoral students also engage with other researchers in DIS fortnightly research seminars, which provide a supportive environment for students to present and receive feedback.

The Research Administrator can be contacted by email (ian.evans@ucl.ac.uk) if you have any queries relating to research studies in the Department.