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How to Apply

We hope that you will find all the information you need about applying to the PhD in Development Studies on this page. However, if you still have a query, please feel free to contact 

Entry Requirements

  • A high 2.1 undergraduate degree from a UK university or equivalent/GPA of at least 3.7 out of 4.0 or equivalent from a non-UK University
  • A Master’s Degree in a relevant subject, with a Merit overall or a GPA of at least 3.8 out of 4.0 or equivalent from a non-UK University
  • Please consult the Graduate Admissions International Qualifications page to ascertain the international equivalent.
  • For those whose first language is not English and who have not previously studied for a degree in an English language university, evidence of proficiency in English: an IELTS score of 7.5 (with a minimum of 7.0 in each individual component) or a TOEFL score of 110 (with 25 in each element). 
  • Candidates are encouraged to discuss their research proposal with a potential supervisor before making their application. Please visit the academic page here to see who is taking on PhD students. The proposal and application will be considered and reviewed by these members of staff. In all cases a suitable and available supervisor must be identified before an offer of a place on the programme can be made.


If at any point before, during or after applying you have a question, Graduate Admissions run a very comprehensive FAQ page

All applications are made through the Graduate Admissions Department Self-Service website. 

When you have completed the necessary preparation and you are ready to begin your online application, you should take note of the following important information before you create your application.

  1. There is an application charge of (GBP Sterling) £50 per application. You can make the payment by providing your card details when you submit the online application.
  2. Your application is not complete without the required supporting documentation.

Upload Supporting Documentation

Applications will not be considered by the Department until all the documents are uploaded, as Graduate Admissions only send them to us once all the documents are present. Incomplete applications will not be considered for funding, even if you apply in time. We do not chase applicants for missing documents. 

Incomplete/inactive applications (i.e. those which have been missing documents for a considerable length of time) will be withdrawn by Graduate Admissions, and will therefore never reach the Department. 

Required Documentation

First Academic Reference
Second Academic Reference

Please see this website for information on who to nominate as your referees, and how they submit their references. 

Personal Reference
This is only required if you are applying for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship.


Please see this website for information on how to upload your transcripts. 

Evidence of Competence in English if English is not your first language

You do not have to have a language test certificate when you apply. Whilst this is preferable, this can be uploaded during any part of the application process - and if an offer is made, can be included as one of the conditions of admission. You can find the "No Current Language Test Form" on this website.

The same form should also be used when you wish to request a language test waiver - there is an option on the form for this purpose. 

Statement of Intent

Applicants must include in their application package a statement of intent (one side of A4 paper is sufficient) explaining why they wish to do this course and how it fits into their long-term career plans. Applicants should not be concerned about any overlap between their statement of intent and the application form.

Research Proposal with Title

An outline (three or four pages) of the proposed research topic, indicating: the background and aims of the research and the methodology and data to be applied (if relevant). This is in addition to information provided on the application form.

Writing sample (not more than 5,000 words)


We are delighted and proud to see that the Centre has gone from no.8 (2015) to no.6 (2016) to no.4 (2017) in the field of Development Studies in the QS Survey. This would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work from everyone within the Centre.

Message from the director: You will be pleased to know that we have moved up from 8 in 2015 to 6 this year in the QS world ranking for Development Studies. This is a remarkable result and a great tribute to the tremendous efforts of the whole team of teachers and administrators. It's a fantastic result! Professor Peter Nolan

Congratulations to PhD student Nungari Mwangi who was awarded the 2016 Andrew E Rice Award from the Society for International development!

Dr Fennell high level facilitator at WSIS 2016

We are pleased to announce that Dr Fennell has been appointed as High Level Track Facilitator at the World Summit on the Information Society Forum.