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Centre of Development Studies


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Entry Requirements

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 Merit overall or a GPA of at least 3.6/4.0 (usually 67% overall) or equivalent from a non-UK University.
  2. A high 2.1 Undergraduate Degree from a UK university or equivalent GPA of at least 3.6/4.0 (usually 67% overall) 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

Supervisors can 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. Applicants should contact an available supervisor to discuss their proposal before applying. 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. In these cases, before submitting the application the proposed supervisor should confirm their willingness to supervise the candidate and contact the PhD Director to outline why the PhD would be best undertaken in the Centre of Development Studies rather than their own department.

In all cases, following appropriate research on the most relevant choice, 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").

*Please note that applications will be rejected should they fail to propose an available supervisor and/or a research title.*   


Applications are considered by the Admissions Committee on a rolling basis once applications open in September.

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:

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:

  • There is an application charge per application. You can make the payment by providing your card details when you submit the online application.
  • Your application is not complete without the required supporting documentation.

Uploading 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. 

Required Documentation

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.