Study for a PhD

A PhD degree from Edinburgh is your chance to connect with internationally renowned researchers and innovators, with a unique opportunity to experience one of Europe's leading universities in one of the world's most iconic cities.

We carry out world class research and provide high quality training in research for both students and postdoctoral researchers.

Our world-leading research is conducted through our seven Research Institutes. These span across and connect between our core disciplines of Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Civil & Environmental Engineering, and Electronics & Electrical Engineering.

You will carry out independent research resulting in an original contribution to knowledge in your chosen area, guided by your supervisor. You will submit a thesis and defend it in an assessed oral exam.

Alongside this research, all our researchers follow a comprehensive training programme that is an integral part of our research degrees. You will gain skills that will equip you for a wide range of future careers beyond your specialist research project. These will serve you for the rest of life, making you a more confident and knowledgeable person, and equipping you in both technical and soft skills. Additional information on our training and support for postgraduate research students.

The School of Engineering has an active research community. PhD students present at research seminars in their research institutes, and attend talks by visiting speakers. Our Engineering Graduate Society organises networking, training, and social events across the School.

We have a very wide range of high-quality engineering facilities, including specialised test laboratories, fabrication workshops, and computing resources. Learn more about Research in the School of Engineering.

Our graduates are amongst the most highly sought-after candidates for academic, commercial or consulting positions, entering careers around the world. The majority of our research graduates enter the engineering profession in a wide range of fields, including automotive, bioengineering, communications, medical imaging, engineering consultancy, fire safety, renewable energy, chemical processing, oil and gas, fast moving consumable goods, high-technology and the semiconductor industry.  Other graduates from our programmes continue to further research including post-doctoral fellowships, lecturing roles and research contracts in universities and research institutes.

Funding Required

  • Tuition fees: All students pay tuition fees. Further information on the fee rates for Home, EU, and International students can be found here: Full time fees and Part time fees
  • Research costs: "Additional programme costs" are in addition to the tuition fees, and include the costs of carrying out research project, such as the costs of laboratory and experimental work, software licenses, or travel costs. The costs of research depend upon the nature of the research project. Further information.
  • Living Expenses / Stipend: The University gives information on living costs in Edinburgh, which will be a substantial commitment: Latest estimates of living expenses.

Scholarships Available

The School of Engineering offers several scholarships for excellent students. The deadlines for scholarships applications are early in each year. Please view our scholarship options.

Academic Grades

You will need a UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent in your first degree, which must be in a relevant subject.

A good MSc result, relevant work experience, or some other exceptional achievement will be considered for applicants who do not meet this requirement.

English language requirements

Before applying for a PhD, you should look at our research pages to help identify the field of research that you would be interested in studying.

Our list of Current PhD Opportunites gives several possible research projects, but it is not exhaustive, and you should contact a member of our academic staff to see whether they would be able to supervise your research.

Before you Apply

Before applying for a PhD in Engineering you should:

To apply for a PhD you will need the following documents:

  • Degree certificates, transcripts, and evidence of meeting our English language requirements (as appropriate).
  • Two references on official letterheads, with signatures.
  • Research Proposal, which should be in your words even if your are applying an advertised project. This helps evaluate your writing skills and research ideas. It can help with both assessing your suitability for a research degree and whether we can offer supervision. It should be no more than 2 A4 pages.

To Apply

​Potential students in all of our engineering disciplines and all of our research institutes should apply for our PhD in Engineering programme. Apply here using the University's online application system.

Additional information for PhD applicants (and for our EngD, MPhil, MScR or visiting student programmes) can be found in these two documents:

Part-time Study

A small number of our students study part-time. This must, however, be discussed with your potential supervisor, as whether this is possible will depend upon the nature of the research project. As a part-time student you would be required to spend 50% of your time on your PhD and you are expected to be in the University 50% of your time. It is consequently not possible to pursue a part-time PhD in addition to full-time employment.

Distance Learning

Our PhD students usually study here in the University of Edinburgh, where they benefit from the research community, expert networks, training and activities that are an integral part of a PhD. It is occasionally appropriate to study remotely, for example, to make use of research facilities that are uniquely available at a different location. Distance learning requires careful planning and the arrangements need to be agreed in advance, to ensure adequate supervision, training, and opportunities to engage with our research community. Please discuss a possible distance learning proposal with an academic supervisor before applying.

Ross Calvert, PhD Students, sitting in front of blackboard
Wini Obande, PhD Student, working in the laboratory, wearing protective gear
Vlad Aparece Scutariu, PhD Student, looking at a computer monitor, using engineering software within an engineering computing laboratoty