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. We ranked first for research power in Engineering in the UK wide Research Excellence Framework exercise in 2014. The exercise also classified our research, our facilities, grant income, awards and prizes as internationally excellent or world-leading. More than 94% of our research papers are published in high-impact, world-leading scientific journals.
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. You can find additional information on our training and support here: https://edin.ac/3f7KyhE. This includes a link to the current handbook for postgraduate research students in the School of Engineering.
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. Information on these facilities can be found on our research web pages.
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 postdoctoral fellowships, lecturing roles and research contracts in universities and research institutes.
- 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.
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.
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
Information on our English language requirements can be found on the Engineering PhD degree finder page, with additional information for International applicants given on this web page. Please note that our English language requirement cannot be waived.
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:
- Identify a possible academic supervisor working in the area that you would like to carry out research. You can find information on our academic staff on our research web pages, or view our list of PhD Opportunities.
- Check that you meet the entry requirements and that you have degree certificates and transcripts for your application.
- Established how you will fund your PhD: Funding and Scholarships
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.
- A 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.
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:
- Additional information for postgraduate research students
- Postgraduate Research Student Handbook (School of Engineering)
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.
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.