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A Complete Guide To

PhD in UK (2022 Guide)

Chapter 1


The United Kingdom is home to some of the world’s greatest universities, making it one of the most popular places for students seeking higher education. In fact, one in every six world influencers attended university in the United Kingdom, making it a desirable location for students.
Over 30000 Indian students came to the United Kingdom for higher study in 2019, an increase from previous years. A degree from a UK university is widely valued worldwide, and it is a preferred choice among huge MNC recruiters. They are a popular choice among students due to their excellent ranks.

Ph.D. in the UK Key Info

Universities 164
Oldest University University of Oxford (1096)
International Students 489,019
PhD Length 3-4 years
Representative Fees £4-5,000 (domestic rate)
Academic Year September to June

About Ph.D. Degree

Ph.D. stands for Doctor of Philosophy and is derived from the Latin phrase ‘Philosophiae doctor.’

A Ph.D. degree often entails students completing original and significant study in a certain topic or subject on their own before writing a publishable thesis.

Although some Doctorates contain coursework, Ph.D. candidates are virtually always evaluated on the quality and novelty of the argument given in their independent research project.

Duration of PhD:

PhDs require three to four years to complete full-time, whereas part-time PhDs might take 6 or 7 years. However, the thesis deadline might be extended by up to 4 years at the discretion of the university. As a result, many students who enrol in 3-year Ph.D. programmes do not complete their thesis until their fourth year.

Types of PhD :

Standard, Integrated, Professional, Distance Learning, and Ph.D. by Publication are the five forms of PhDs given by institutions in the United Kingdom. The standard Ph.D. is a more popular option among international students than others. The following are brief descriptions of the four categories of PhDs available in the United Kingdom:

Standard PhD

It’s a 3-part full-time degree that takes three to four years to complete. During their 1st year, students meet with supervisors to discuss research ideas and build a strategy. Data meeting and analysis are part of the program’s year 2nd and 3rd. Finally, students compose their thesis in the last year and present it for viva.

Integrated PhD

In the United Kingdom, it combines a one-year Masters in Research (MRes) with a three-year Ph.D. and is provided by over 30 universities. The primary objective is to combine the taught component of the programme with independent study. This aids students in their understanding of various techniques.

Professional PhD

This form of Ph.D. is typically used in vocational fields such as medicine, engineering, and education. The Ph.D. focuses on getting the students ready for future employment. As a result, a few research theses and more projects focus on real-world business issues.

Distance Learning PhD

This sort of Ph.D. is preferred by international students with job or family responsibilities who wish to study in the United Kingdom. Students communicate with their supervisor by phone, email, or Skype, and they attend university for 1 or 2 weeks each year. The duration of this Ph.D. is 5-6 years.

Ph.D. by Publication

This Ph.D., also called Higher Doctorate, is awarded to students who have previously produced original work in book chapters, journal articles, or novels. Most UK universities, on the other hand, exclusively accept their graduates for Ph.D. by Publication. Students must submit 5 to 8 published works and a 5,000 to 20,000 words supporting statement.

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Ph.D. Degree Stages:


You’ll connect with your mentor to talk about your research idea and set up a timeline. After that, you’ll finish your literature review, in which you’ll assess and critique existing works to guide the path of your project to ensure that your research is unique.


Your focus will move to obtaining data and creating your thesis, and you may even start drafting thesis chapters. You can also obtain teaching experience, cooperate with other students on similar topics, explain the advantages of your study to the broader public through seminars, talks, and presentations, or submit material for publication in an academic paper or book.


Although your research may still be ongoing, it primarily entails composing your thesis. Then, following your supervisor’s approval, you’ll present your thesis before taking a one to 3-hour oral test in front of at least one internal and external examiner to debate and defend your work.

Why Ph.D. in the UK?

Academic excellence

The educational standards in UK universities are among the highest in the world. 4 of the top 10 universities globally are from the United Kingdom, including Oxford and Cambridge. Practical and utility-based learning is preferred over theoretical learning when studying in the United Kingdom. 

Quality education

The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) is a non-profit body in the United Kingdom that regularly assesses the educational standards of the country’s universities and colleges. It keeps track of their progress through audits and topic evaluations, but it also helps them find the best teaching methods and gives them feedback on how to improve. The UK higher education funding bodies also review these research criteria, which submit their findings on a routine basis. This guarantees that all students have access to the top stage of learning, researching, and guidance irrespective of their field of study.

Shorter duration of courses

Many other countries education systems provide shorter and more challenging courses, enabling you to graduate faster while maintaining good quality. While an undergraduate degree can take up to three years, a graduate programme can be finished in as little as one year. This saves you time and money on your education and living costs.

Work while studying

You can do part-time jobs for up to 20 hours per week during your study to help pay for your daily living expenses while also pursuing your education. During your holiday break, you could even work full-time. This will assist you in paying your fees and gaining industry experience in a field of study.

Health benefits 

The National Health Service (NHS) will provide you with free medical treatment while studying in the United Kingdom as an international student. To take full advantage of this service, you will need to pay a small International Health Surcharge (IHS). Your IDP counsellor will be able to assist you with this.

Ph.D. in the US vs Ph.D. in the UK

#1 Programme length

The Ph.D. programs in the USA usually take 5-7 years to complete, whereas the Ph.D. programs in the UK take 3-4 years.

Additionally, most UK programmes strongly suggest obtaining a Masters’s degree before beginning Ph.D. studies, implying that the Masters’s degree is more important for a UK application than a US application.

#2 Programme structure

In the US, the timetable for the programmes is very structured. You don’t even have to choose classes because the program had a set schedule that everyone in the batch followed.

However, the Ph.D. programme in the United Kingdom is not as structured as equivalent courses in the United States. This allows you to be more flexible, ideal for a Ph.D., but it also necessitates self-discipline and self-motivation.

While there are timeframes for certain things, such as yearly reviews, this type of programme may surprise those who are used to a more controlled method in the United States. It’s easy to get distracted when you have the choice to choose what training to take and what to work on any given day. Setting fundamental time-based objectives and practising self-discipline, on the other hand, might make staying on top of things simple.

#3 Cost

So, is it more expensive to get a Ph.D. in the United States or the United Kingdom?

It’s crucial to understand that various colleges within both countries have differences, and scholarship opportunities will vary. As a result, you should thoroughly investigate the possibilities you’re contemplating and make the greatest decision possible for your circumstances. In addition, it’s important to keep in mind that the cost of living in a given place will impact your overall spending.

With that in mind, what is the likely difference, in general? A Ph.D. in the United States will be more expensive in many circumstances. The average annual tuition will be slightly more, and you’ll likely be studying for a longer time.

As an international student, you could expect to pay $78,000-177,000 for a 5 to 7 years doctorate in the United States, compared to $40,000-107,000 for 3 to 4 years in the United Kingdom.

#4 Work-life balance

In the US, the Ph.D. programmes consist of many coursework and projects in the first and second years, which is not comfortable for everyone. 

In the UK, you will experience a much better work-life balance. This is because you will get alot of time to keep a regular working schedule. However, there can be a few instances where you might have to work extra, even on the weekends.

Chapter 2

Ph.D. Requirements in the UK

English Proficiency Requirements for Ph.D. in the UK

To complete a Ph.D. in the United Kingdom, the research thesis must be prepared entirely in English. In addition, workshops, seminars, lectures, and other events are also performed in that language. As a result, international students must submit one of the below test scores to prove their English proficiency:


Minimum Score Required







Chapter 3

Top PhD Universities in UK :

QS Rank 2022


Important Ph.D. Programs


University of Oxford

Chemistry, Biochemistry, Engineering Science, Medical Science


University of Cambridge

Chemical Engineering, Clinical Neuroscience, and Biotechnology, Engineering


Imperial College London

Mathematics, Life Sciences, Mechanical Engineering, Medical Sciences


University College London

Chemistry, Physics Chemical Engineering, and Astronomy, Material Science


University of Edinburgh

Engineering, Medicine, Geosciences, Informatics, Mathematics


University of Manchester

Chemistry, Electrical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Material Science, Mathematics


King’s College London

Medical Science, Pharmaceutical Science, Life Science


London School of Economics and Political Science

Social Science, Communication, Law, Journalism


University of Bristol

Biochemistry, Medical Science, Physiology, Biological Science

Popular PhD Programs in UK:

Universities in the United Kingdom provide sophisticated infrastructure and world-class amenities to assist Ph.D. students in their research. Its programmes are well-known around the world. As a result, overseas students may find it challenging to select a Ph.D. programme that best meets their skills and interests. Some of these popular degrees, as well as the universities that provide them, are included in the table below:



Fees per Annum (GBP)

Ph.D. in Computer Science

University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, University College London, Imperial College London, KCL

22,200 to 33,250

Ph.D. in Medical Science

University College London, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, University of Manchester, Newcastle University, 

24,000 to 32,352

Ph.D. in Engineering

Oxford, University of Cambridge, University College London, University of Southampton, The University of Manchester

22,704 to 32,352

Ph.D. in Sociology

LSE, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, University of Warwick, University of Manchester

19,338 to 24,450

Ph.D. in Law

University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, LSE, KCL, UCL

18,740 to 25,758

Chapter 4

Application Process & Costs

Some students present their research topic and request financing, while others may find that their supervisor already has funds for a study and is advertising it as a job. When applying for a Ph.D., you’ll usually be expected to provide the following documents:

  • an academic CV
  • your academic transcripts
  • 2 or 3 academic references
  • a personal statement
  • a research proposal.

Cost of Ph.D. in the UK

Ph.D. studentships and assistantships that combine research and teaching are also prevalent, with scientific studentships typically paying more.

Pre-arrival Cost

Pre-arrival costs are the expenses incurred before arriving at the institution. The following table summarises these.

Type of Fees

Cost (in GBP)

UK Student Visa






Application Fees



425 - 638

This is definitely expensive, but do keep in mind the fact that your tuition fees is going to be absolutely free!

Tuition Fees for Indian Students

The cost of studying Ph.D. in the UK for an Indian student ranges between 18-36 Lakh INR per year. Among the top universities, University of Warwick and the King’s College London have the lowest tuition fees i.e., below 19L per year

Cost of Living in UK

In the United Kingdom, the yearly cost of living, including transport and accommodation, is estimated to be roughly 15,000 GBP. The following is a breakdown of a week’s worth of expenses for an international student:

Type of Expense

Weekly Cost (in GBP)


125 - 160

Food Expense


Telephone Bill


Household Items


Books and Supplies


Other Expenses


Chapter 5

Scholarships for PhD in UK

University scholarships and bursaries

The first place to seek postgraduate funding is your chosen university. Universities provide a variety of scholarships and bursaries for a variety of reasons. These are some of them:

  • Academic excellence scholarships 

These provide financial assistance to students in appreciation of their exceptional academic achievements. Unfortunately, because these are usually in short supply, you’ll have to compete with others for the money.

  • Disadvantaged bursaries 

These are offered to encourage students from all origins to seek further education irrespective of their circumstances.

  • Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) 

Students wishing for Ph.D. funding and hands-on academic experience can finish a GTA with their university using this assistantship. Fee exemptions will be provided in exchange for pastoral assistance and teaching tasks to undergraduate students and researching and writing your thesis.

  • PhD studentships 

These fiercely competitive Doctoral fellowships might ensure a spot on a research topic that is often pre-determined. 

The majority of university scholarships and grants must be obtained before the start of the semester. However, if you have financial, health, or familial challenges, you can normally apply for hardship aid during the academic year.

Here is a list of all the scholarships which you can avail for a Ph.D. in the UK:

UK Government Scholarships 

  • Chevening Scholarships
  • Scotland Saltire Scholarships
  • Commonwealth Masters Scholarships

Note: Here’s information about scholarships in UK

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UK University Scholarships

  • Gates Cambridge Scholarships
  • Clarendon Scholarships at University of Oxford (UK)
  • Edinburgh Global Research Scholarships
  • University of Sussex Chancellor’s International Scholarships 
  • Bristol University Think Big Scholarships
  • University of West London International Ambassador Scholarships
  • University of West England Chancellor’s Scholarships
  • Sheffield Hallam University Transform Together Scholarships
  • Warwick Chancellor’s International Scholarships
  • Developing Solutions Scholarships at University of Nottingham
Chapter 6

Jobs after Ph.D. in the UK

The most popular job roles for Ph.D. graduates in the UK are:

  • higher education teaching professionals
  • other researchers, unspecified discipline
  • natural and social science professionals 
  • specialist medical practitioners
  • clinical psychologists

Although finding a position in academia is a natural next step for many Ph.D. grads, there are more options available outside of teaching and education.

For example, many Ph.D. graduates engage in the science and pharmaceuticals (13.2%) and medicine (15.3%) industries. This may have been aided by the recent trend of increasingly research-oriented private sector enterprises.

Research scientists can specialize in various fields, including biological sciences, mathematics, and physical sciences, in addition to medicine.

If you want to work as a clinical or academic psychologist, you’ll be required to complete a taught Doctorate in clinical (DClinPsy or ClinPsyD) or educational (DEdPsy) psychology.

What do other PhD graduates do?







Working and studying






Type of work




Other professionals






Business, HR and finance professionals


High Paying Jobs after PhD in UK :

Clinical psychologists, biologists, healthcare professionals, and university researchers are the other most frequent employment opportunities for Ph.D. graduates. The following is a list of salaries for Ph.D. graduates in various jobs in the United Kingdom:

Job Role

Average Annual Salary (in GBP)

Data Scientist


Principal Scientist


Senior Software Engineer


Postdoctoral Research Associate


Research Scientist


Senior Research Scientist


Best UK Cities for International Students :

The best student city rating considers six factors, including desirability, affordability, and student perceptions. Here is the table for the top 10 UK cities which are best for international students.

UK Ranking 

World Ranking

Student City
























Newcastle upon Tyne







FAQs :

Q : How much does it cost to get a PhD from the UK?

The cost of getting a PhD in the United Kingdom ranges from 18,000 to 35,000 GBP per year. For an Indian student, this equates to 17 lakhs to 34 lakhs INR each year.

Ques. How long is the PhD in the UK?

Ans. 3 to 4 years

Ques. Is a PhD in the UK free?

Ans. No

Conclusion :

The UK Universities are consistently ranked among the top universities worldwide. As a result, studying in the UK is highly respected and recognised around the world for Indian students. Students studying in the UK meet peeps from all over the world and share their diverse backgrounds. These universities are routinely audited to verify that they meet the government’s standards for learning, teaching, and research.

Universities in the UK provide a plethora of bursaries and scholarships to aid the students financially. Through unique teaching and study methodologies, institutions in the United Kingdom allow students to be creative and acquire skill sets and confidence. Students have the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s most renowned academics and experts.

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