A PhD is both a product and also a process. A product: a substantial piece of work culminating in the submission and defence of a PhD thesis, and which reflects three or more years’ worth of endeavour which may have commercial, cultural or social value. A process: it is the process through which a person acquires advanced research skills and expertise, through which an individual is challenged and changed.


Why do a PhD?

Why do a PhD?

Completing a PhD takes a lot of commitment and perseverance, so why might you want to complete one? The answer to this will differ from person to person, but you might consider joining the QMU PhD programme to:

  • study a topic that you are passionate about, and that is personally or professionally relevant;
  • challenge yourself intellectually, and prove to yourself that you can study at the highest level of education in Scotland, SCQF Level 12;
  • further develop a range of skills including project management, time management, data analysis, and research capabilities; and
  • support career related goals, such as pursuing a career in academia.

 Successfully completing a PhD programme will also allow you to use the title “Dr” and make use of the post-nominal letters “PhD”.

The QMU PhD Programme

The PhD programme at Queen Margaret University will give you the skills you need to become an independent researcher, and will enable you to undertake a comprehensive programme of research that will give you a detailed knowledge of your specialist area of study and the opportunity to make an original contribution to a topic within your chosen field.

As a QMU Doctoral Candidate you will be supported throughout your studies by your supervisory team, whose subject and methodological expertise will be chosen to complement your research topic. In your first year as a Doctoral Candidate you will attend a longitudinal induction, which comprises three week-long study blocks designed to help you develop a range of key research skills. You will also be eligible to attend relevant training events and workshops at the University, and those provided through the University’s membership of the Scottish Graduate School for Social Sciences and the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities. The QMU PhD programme includes regular progression points, including the probationary assessment and the assessed seminars and these provide opportunities for you to develop transferable skills and gain constructive feedback on your research from other experienced academics and Doctoral Candidates at the University. For further information on the progression points, please see our Doctoral Candidate Handbook .

As a Doctoral Candidate, you will be affiliated with at least one of Queen Margaret University’s six Research Centres. Membership of a QMU Research Centre will allow you to engage with academics and Doctoral Candidates who are working at the intersection of conventional disciplinary groupings to create innovative approaches to contemporary societal challenges and public discourse.

All new doctoral candidates are automatically enrolled on the Researcher Enhancement and Development (READ) programme, which has been designed to formally recognise the learning that accompanies the successful completion of the PhD programme. The READ programme is separate from the PhD programme, and successful completion results in a 60 credit Doctoral Certificate (DCert).



Exit Awards

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Master of Philosophy (MPhil) – note that it is not possible to enrol on the MPhil, but that this can be awarded exceptionally as an exit point.

Enrolling on the QMU PhD Programme also confers eligibility to study for the award of Doctoral Certificate (DCert) in Researcher Enhancement and Development (60 credits at SCQF level 12)

Period of study and attendance requirements

Completing a PhD is a significant undertaking, and as a full-time Doctoral Candidate you should expect to devote around 35 hours per week to your studies and to submit your PhD thesis at the end of three years.

If studying on a full-time basis does not suit your circumstances, you could study on a part-time basis. As a part-time Doctoral Candidate, you should expect to devote around 18 hours per week to your studies and to submit your PhD thesis at the end of six years.

 With the exception of the doctoral study weeks, there are no core classes for you to attend. Your progress through the programme will be facilitated through regular meetings with your supervisory team. Meetings with your supervisory team should normally be held monthly throughout the prescribed period of study if you are studying full-time; and every two months if you are studying on a part-time basis. However, the frequency and scheduling of meetings is negotiable with your supervisory team.


PhD graduates go on to work in a range of sectors, and the skills you develop on the QMU PhD programme could be transferred to roles within the public, private and third sectors.

Completion of a PhD is often viewed as an essential route into academia, and as a QMU Doctoral Candidate, you will be eligible to participate in the University’s Short Course in Facilitating Learning and Teaching. The Short Course, organised by the Centre for Academic Practice, will help you to build a solid foundation for your educational practice. The Centre for Academic Practice would also support you if you were to apply for Associate Fellowship with the Higher Education Academy. As a QMU Doctoral Candidate you will also be able to gain academic experience, including teaching and assessing students, as a Graduate Teaching Assistant.

Entry Requirements

You should have a good UK Honours degree (2:1 or above) OR an equivalent degree from another country OR equivalent professional experience. Additionally, you must produce an outline research proposal which we judge to be feasible and appropriate for the level of study, and which is in a field we can supervise.

There will be an interview process for all applicants, which may be conducted in person, by Skype, or by phone.

International: where your previous degree has not been studied in English, you will need a minimum IELTS overall score of 6.5 and no individual component score below 6.0.

Please see the “How to Apply page”  for further information.




Application Deadline

The QMU PhD Programme has two intakes each year, September and January.

If you are applying to study a topic of your choice, and will be funding yourself or you have secured funding for yourself, we welcome your application at any time of the year. To ensure a smooth transition into study, we recommend applying at least three months in advance of your preferred intake.

If you are applying to one of the funded PhD positions advertised by the University, please refer to the relevant competition page for the application deadline.


Scholarships supporting PhD study typically cover the cost of the tuition fees, a monthly stipend to support living costs, and a budget to cover research related expenses.

Each year QMU offers a limited number of funded places for specific research topics . Further information about current or past topics can be found on the bursary competition website.

Queen Margaret University also periodically advertises scholarships that are funded by external organisations to cover a specific topic. These positions may be advertised throughout the year. If you represent an organisation interested in sponsoring a research project, please contact the Research Centre Director  relevant to your proposed area of study.

The University can also nominate up to two applicants each year to the Carnegie Trust PhD Scholarship competition , with applications for QMU institutional support normally being due in January each year.



We recommend that you contact potential supervisors prior to making an application. Please see the About our staff and the Research Centres, Institutes and Groups pages for information on potential supervisors at the University.

Please contact the Graduate School Team at graduateschool@qmu.ac.uk





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Course Overview

Mainly individual learning supported by supervisory team
Full-time: c. 3 years; Part time: c. 6 years
Start Date
September 2018
January 2019
Study Abroad
Fees & Funding

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