UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


What do I need?

If you want to undertake a PhD degree in Experimental Psychology there are a few things that you need to think about.  Normally you need a minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor’s degree or a taught UK Master’s degree, or the overseas equivalent, in a relevant subject. Overseas applicants also need to satisfy the English language requirements.

We provide information about different pathways into the PhD programme below. Potential students should note that there are different dates associated with each pathway. Generally, however, the following dates are good rough guides:

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October of the year before.

By now you should be thinking of potential topics and be starting to contact potential supervisors, and making sure that you adhere to UCL’s admission requirements.


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December of the year before.

By now you should have a good draft of a research proposal to accompany your application(s), identified referees for your application, and gathered all the appropriate information needed for application. For specific information about the application process click here.

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January of the same year.

Interviews for the MPhil/PhD are generally held in January. These interviews are also used to identify candidates who can be put forward for competitive scholarships that are funded by UCL (such as Graduate Research Scholarships, Overseas Research Scholarships), and for any demonstratorships, funded by the School of Psychology and Language Sciences, that are available for the subsequent period.

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February-April of the same year.

Offers of admission are sent out, and candidates find out if they have been successful at obtaining funding.

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Late September

Enrol in your MPhil/PhD programme in Experimental Psychology!

Routes to the PhD

There are 2 major pathways into a PhD in Experimental Psychology – directly and through a a so-called “1+3” option such as a doctoral training centre.

Direct route

1. Identifying a research area and supervisor.

  • Having made sure that you adhere to UCL admissions requirements you now need to identify a research area in which you would like to undertake a PhD, and identify a faculty member in the department that will be able to supervise your project. The most common method is to identify a rough idea of the research topic you are interested in and seek a supervisor that might also be interested. The student and supervisor then discuss the research topic in more detail, and develop a project that both can agree on. Note that one strength of UCL is that individual faculty can only supervise a small number of students: this allows for more personal supervision, but also means that the preferred supervisor may not be available to take on new students.
  • With a project and supervisor in hand, the student then formally applies to do a MPhil/PhD programme in Experimental Psychology. Once the application is passed on to Experimental Psychology by UCL admissions, a formal interview is arranged with the nominated supervisor and the Graduate Tutor. These interviews are generally held in mid- to late January. The Department then decides whether to recommend that UCL offer a place to the applicant, and forwards that decision to UCL admissions.

2. Identifying Funding Options

Applicants who receive offers of a placement on MPhil/PhD programmes at UCL, including Experimental Psychology, are not guaranteed funding. There are, however, many potential funding sources. We note some of them in what follows, but this is not an exhaustive list – please consult the UCL Doctoral School funding page for further information, and note that there may even be programmes beyond those noted there.

  • The Department of Experimental Psychology is part of Psychology and Language Sciences (PALS). PALS offers a limited number of “demonstratorships” which require the successful applicant to contribute to teaching onto specific undergraduate or postgraduate courses that the Division of Psychology runs.  You cannot apply for these directly.  Experimental Psychology uses the interview process in January to recommend applicants for these demonstratorships, which are then assessed across PALS. The interview panels usually meet in mid-late February and outcomes announced shortly afterwards. The funding is only available for students who are UK permanent residents.
  • The same interview process (as above) is used to make recommendations to the central UCL scholarship schemes, such as Graduate Research Scholarships (GRS)Overseas Research Scholarships (ORS) and UCL-China Scholarships Council Research Scholarships  UCL awards a small number of these Scholarships on a competitive basis.
  • Graduate Research Scholarships for Cross Disciplinary Training (One-Year) There are four scholarships available to current research students who wish to spend an additional year of their MPhil/PhD in another UCL department acquiring research skills and knowledge from a different discipline.
  • UCL Research Opportunity Scholarship  This is intended to support BME postgraduate research degree students. The funding is only available for students who are UK permanent residents.
  • Many students from outside the UK secure funding from sources that are run by their home country, or are run jointly by the UK and the home country. Again the general timetable, above, is not always in line with that of funding sources outside the UK, we do have flexibility in the timing of interviews and admissions to Experimental Psychology. We are continually aiming to develop strong relationships with international researcher students.

Research Council/Other Funding Schemes

You may also wish to consider these funding sources. Applicants must submit applications for these independent your UCL Graduate Application.  These schemes have their own requirements and deadlines; please visit the links below for relevant information.


The AHRC funded London Arts & Humanities Doctoral Training Partnership (LAHP) will be awarding studentships to UK and EU research students studying arts and humanities disciplines. Candidates should be aware that the LAHP studentship competition is a twin-track process, and you will need to apply for a place of study on your chosen PhD programme and to LAHP for a studentship. Application Deadline is 28th January 2022.


The ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership invites applications for studentships in language sciences (e.g., speech, language and communication; experimental phonetics, linguistics and pragmatics; developmental and acquired disorders; and hearing impairments). The funding can be for three years (+3) of PhD study, or include funding for a Masters degree year (1+3).

The preliminary application form and full details about this funding including the eligibility requirements can be found on the UCL, Bloomsbury and East London (UBEL) ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership website.

  • Deadline for preliminary applications is 10 January 2022, submitted directly to UBEL
  • The deadline for those invited to submit a full application is 28th February 2022
Note about EU/International Students

Other Funding

  • Individual members of academic staff may sometimes be able to support students with the help of research funds that they have obtained from the Research Councils, various charities or other funding bodies.  You should ask your prospective supervisor if they have any other funding options available.

There are a number of charities that offer funding for PhDs, for example from the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID).

Though self-funding is generally not recommended, the UK government does offer loans for PhDs.

Self Funding

It is possible for students to self-fund their PhD studies, either as a full-time or part time student.  However, students will only be admitted on a full-time basis if they can provide evidence that they will have sufficient funds to support themselves for a minimum of three years.  English resident UK students will have the option of a PhD government loan.  Further information about the loans can be found on findaphd.com.