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Centre of Development Studies


Admissions are now closed for the October 2024 intake.

For 2025 entry, the deadline for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship (US round) is 11 October 2024 at 23:59 GMT.

For all other funding for 2025 entry, including Gates funding for eligible non-US citizens, the deadline is 03 December 2024 (at 23:59 GMT).

If you are not applying for funding, and are self-funding, the application deadline is 25 February 2025 (at 23:59 GMT).

For information regarding Postgraduate Admissions, see the Postgraduate Admissions website.

Entry Requirements for the PhD in Development Studies

The Centre of Development Studies PhD programme has high academic requirements, and a large number of applicants who meet them. If you do not meet the criteria listed below, it is most unlikely you will be offered a place.

  1. A UK Masters Degree in a relevant subject with a mark of at least 70 or a GPA of at least 3.7/4.0 or equivalent from a non-UK University. We understand that you may well still be studying your Masters when you apply, so if your application is successful, you will be given a conditional offer for this academic requirement. 
  2. A high 2:1 undergraduate degree from a UK university or equivalent GPA of at least 3.7/4.0 or equivalent from a non-UK University.
  3. Applicants must also have a good research project that falls within the research interests of one the Centre's lecturers who is available for supervision.

If your degree is not from the UK, please consult the Postgraduate Admissions International Qualifications page to ascertain the international equivalent in your country.

  • For those whose first language is not English and who have not previously studied for a degree in an English language university within the last 2 years, evidence of proficiency in English is required. This consists of 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).  Conditional offers can be made without these results, at the initial application level, but these will need to be obtained and proof provided for a firm offer to be extended and all requirements met for a formal matriculation.


Naming a Supervisor on your Application

Please note that the Admissions Committee will reject all applications that do not name a proposed supervisor. Supervisors should be named from the Centre of Development Studies. Your research topic must come within their area of expertise and there must a strong link to Development Studies. Academics currently available for PhD supervision are listed here:

In exceptional circumstances, applicants may name a supervisor from another department, if the research proposal and the proposed supervisor both have a strong link to Development Studies. 

A suitable and available supervisor and a proposed research title must be included in the correct place on the application. (This is found on the first page of the Application Form, in the "Research" section, "Proposed Supervisor" and "Proposed title of Research").



Applications are considered by the Admissions Committee as part of a gathered field, with decisions made and communicated to applicants within 12 weeks of the application deadline.

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

Please use the Postgraduate Admissions contact form if you can't find an answer to your question:

How do I apply?

All applications are made through the Postgraduate 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:

  • 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 Postgraduate 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. 

It is the responsibility of applicants to ensure that all documents forming part of their application are correct and complete at the point of submission of the application. The department will not permit changes or additions to these documents after application. Additionally, the Admissions Committee will not review any documents which are not listed on the PAO website as required for the MPhil or PhD in Development Studies.

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

What Supporting Documentation do I need to apply?

1. First Academic Reference and Second Academic Reference

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

All applicants will require two academic references, including continuing students.

2. Personal Reference

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

3. Transcripts

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

4. 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. 

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.

5. 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.

6. Writing sample (not more than 5,000 words)

This could be a published article or an essay from the student's Bachelor or Master programme, where possible relevant to Development Studies.