Research programmes

As part of the Russell Group, Bristol is proud to be one of the UK’s leading universities, with an established record of producing groundbreaking research that makes an impact on society at local, national and international levels.

What we offer

There are a number of different types of postgraduate research degree on offer at Bristol.

Besides the traditional PhD and research master’s degrees, the University offers a growing number of professional and extended doctoral programmes.

Master’s degrees by research (MMus, MPhil or MScR)

A master’s by research includes a structured research project where you explore research themes through critical analysis and in-depth study.

These programmes can be a valuable foundation for starting a PhD.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

This is the most common qualification gained by a research student, normally representing three to four years of full-time study depending on the discipline.

A PhD is awarded for the outcomes of advanced study, written up as an 80,000-word thesis, which demonstrates an original and significant contribution to knowledge.

Professional doctorates (EdD, EngD, DEdPsych, MD, DDS)

These qualifications are typically suited to professional practitioners already qualified to an advanced level in their area of specialism, who wish to deepen and challenge their understanding.

They include EngD programmes designed to suit industry needs, where research engineers spend about 75 per cent of their time working in a company on collaborative research projects.

Funded doctoral training

As a leading research-intensive university, Bristol receives funding for doctoral education from a wide range of sources, and has one of the largest concentrations of funded Doctoral Training Partnerships and Centres in the UK.

These often offer full scholarships for three to four years, and many are run in collaboration with other universities, or global companies, providing access to a wealth of resources. 

Extended doctoral programmes

A growing number of students choose extended programmes (typically four years of study), which include specialist taught training and advanced research projects, often before selecting an area of particular interest to pursue to doctoral level.

This route is especially popular in the science and engineering-based disciplines.

International dual PhD

Bristol offers a number of dual PhD opportunities for doctoral students. A dual PhD award is one which leads to separate, but linked, awards from two partner institutions within a co-supervised research degree programme.

These opportunities provide an enhanced training experience that gives access to a wide range of academic expertise, research facilities and international networks.

Candidates are registered at the two universities for the full period of their study, write one thesis that is examined independently by each institution, and spend approximately 50 per cent of their programme at each location.

Bristol supervisors partner with colleagues from Australia, Mexico, Europe and South Africa and students are recruited to specific research projects.

Distance learning

Several of our schools offer the opportunity for you to complete your research degree via distance learning.

Supervisors can be contacted by video link, telephone or email, while scheduled visits to the University provide opportunities for face-to-face contact.

Most of the library’s electronic resources – including journal archives, e-books and library catalogues – are available to use both on site and at a distance.

If you’re thinking about applying to study by distance learning, please contact the relevant school in the first instance to explore whether this is possible.

Supervisor search

Our website gives you the opportunity to find a PhD programme by searching the research interests of your potential supervisor.

Research reputation

We have an excellent international reputation in research and are a member of the Worldwide Universities Network, a group of 24 research-led institutions of international standing.

The Research Excellence Framework is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. In the latest submission (REF 2014), our research was shown to be of high quality and to have a major impact on society and the economy.

Bristol Doctoral College

‌The Bristol Doctoral College provides information, guidance and resources to all postgraduate research students at all stages of their degree.

We support the research community through collaborative events, interactive workshops and engagement opportunities. These activities help you get the most out of your studies and develop the skills to succeed, whatever your chosen career.

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