Postgraduate Research


We offer full-time (three years) and part-time (six years) doctoral training programmes (including various PhD routes) in topics or research approaches in which QMU researchers have expertise.

You will create a significant piece of original research which, in the process, will put you in a very strong position for progression in your chosen academic or professional field, or to change the direction of your career.

Your doctorate is a substantial piece of learning and research, reflecting three or more years of endeavour, that will have commercial, cultural or social value. It is also a process through which you will acquire advanced research knowledge, skills and expertise, be challenged and possibly transform as a person. The training programme for your doctorate will require significant personal discipline, time and commitment. In return, your sense of achievement at the end will be immense, and successful completion of your doctorate will open up a range of opportunities for career advancement.

Why QMU?

  • You will benefit from a large range of support for all aspects of your studies.
  • Candidates receive academic support from their individual supervisory team as well as their Head of Division and/or Research Centre Director. Our Academic Schools also have a dedicated Doctoral School Research Coordinator, who is available for independent consultation and support.
  • During the course of the PhD programme, there will be many opportunities for professional and personal development. Students receive a wide range of generic research skills training which is organised by our Learning Enhancement and Academic Development (LEAD) Centre and delivered during dedicated doctoral development weeks throughout each academic year. Engagement with research skills training and professional development opportunities enables face-to-face interaction amongst the doctoral community, which in turn facilitates collaborative enquiry, shared learning, individual exploration, and mutual support and challenge.

PhD overview

Enrolling on a doctoral degree programme is one of the biggest decisions you can make regarding your education and learning in your career. We want your doctoral programme experience to be based around feeling part of a thriving learning community. The importance and power of peer support cannot be underestimated during doctoral-level study, so engaging with the community of doctoral candidates (students), supervisors and academics that exists at QMU is a core element in your programme. It is the community of learning that grounds you and your studies and gives you the strength to stay engaged and curious, and to design and craft your research and thesis as well as publications. Your final thesis will be an original and rigorous piece of research and scholarship that is something you feel passionate about and is of relevance to the University.

QMU’s Graduate School offers research supervision by academics who are active researchers, many of whom have an international track record and connections to other international researchers working in their field. All doctoral candidates are hosted by a research centre or an institute, and the various research centres and institutes offer significant peer support and learning opportunities such as seminars and workshops.

The Graduate School also coordinates a Doctoral Candidates’ Association that offers a supportive community as well as organising informal learning opportunities including their annual DCA Conference.

QMU is a member of the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science (SGSSS) and the Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities (SGSAH). These memberships allow QMU doctoral candidates to access a large range of additional doctoral training and development opportunities, notably advanced skills training, internships, local conferences and summer schools.

Exit awards

PhD (540 level 12 SCQF credits)

MPhil (level 11 SCQF)


It usually takes three years (full-time) or six years (part-time) to complete a doctoral programme.

Throughout your doctoral programme, you will participate in doctoral development weeks. These focus on developing the knowledge and skills that you require in order to successfully train to become an independent researcher, design and progress your doctoral research project and also provide a great networking opportunity for you to engage with your fellow doctoral candidates, other research supervisors and the Graduate School team.

Supervision, learning and assessment

As a doctoral candidate you will progressively demonstrate a doctoral-level understanding of research philosophies and methodologies, show originality in one or more aspects of your research design (including the application of research methods) and understand how the boundaries of knowledge and practice are advanced through research impact. PhD candidates will extend the forefront of a discipline by making an impact through an original contribution to knowledge, or your field of practice.

Candidates will work with a supervisory team who will provide ongoing guidance and support throughout the programme. The doctorate is ultimately assessed by the thesis, publications or creative work, and a final viva examination. The usual  length of a PhD thesis is from 70,000 to 100,000 words. The PhD by Creative Practice research involves a portfolio of creative work with a critical commentary normally  30,000 to 40,000 words in length.

Time commitment

The expectation is that full-time candidates will devote approximately 35 hours per week and part-time candidates approximately 18.5 hours per week to their studies. Meetings with the supervisory team are usually monthly throughout the programme for full-time candidates, and bi-monthly for part-time candidates. However, this is negotiable between the candidate and the supervisory team, details of which are recorded in the learning contract and annual reports.


Wherever possible, doctoral students are given the opportunity to hone and develop their academic teaching skills within their department, and are supported by staff within their discipline, as well as by staff from the Effective Learning Service.  Opportunities are also available for students to develop other skills in academia, within research or within industry.

Entry requirements

For a PhD route you should have a good UK Honours degree (2:1 or above), OR Master’s degree, OR an equivalent degree from another country OR equivalent professional experience. Additionally, you must produce an outline research proposal (approximately 1,000 words), which we assess to be feasible and appropriate for the level of study, and which is in a field where we can offer supervision expertise.

For the Professional Doctorate route you should have 120 SCQF Level 11 credits, OR the equivalent from another country, OR equivalent professional experience that can be used to gain Recognition of Prior Learning credit as an associate student to allow full access to the programme.

In all cases, we strongly recommend that you contact potential supervisors prior to making an application. If you are unsure whom to contact, please get in touch with the Graduate School

International: Where your Honours degree has not been studied in English, you will be required to provide evidence of English language competence at no less than IELTS 6.5 and no individual component score below 6.0.

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

PhD candidate submissions

Candidates take part in two assessment exercises to confirm their progress towards the submission of the final thesis:

  • The probationary assessment in Year One (for both full-time and part-time candidates) comprises the submission of a comprehensive research proposal (approximately 6,000 words) and report on Researcher Skills Development that is followed by a viva with an internal assessment panel composed of two experienced research supervisors, unconnected with the topic or candidate.
  • The assessed seminar in Year Two (Year Four for part-time candidates) generally takes the form of a 3,000 word paper or thesis chapter, or creative piece, which sets out the progression of study to date, a report on researcher skills development and outlines how the candidate plans to progress their research to completion within the timeline, plus a 20 minute seminar with the internal assessment panel (where possible, the same panel as the probationary assessment) and members of the wider research community.

Application deadline

Applications are accepted all year round.


QMU offers a small number of University funded PhD bursaries each year that cover specific topics for research. These are typically advertised on the QMU website homepage in February each year.

More information and contacts

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 for more information. 


Wherever possible, doctoral candidates are given the opportunity to develop other relevant academic skills within their research centre or institute and the associated division. This can be, but is not isolated to, being a teaching assistant in the classroom. Working within Graduate School guidelines, staff within the division provide support for this, as needed. Opportunities are also available for candidates to develop other skills relevant to their research, in academia, within research or within industry.

Please Note:

The delivery of this course is subject to the terms and conditions set out in our 2024/25 Entry - Terms and Conditions (Postgraduate).

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Course Overview

As a full-time candidate, you will be required to attend the campus regularly. Part-time and distance or international candidates can negotiate on-campus attendance. As a minimum, all candidates need to attend for the doctoral induction and study weeks and progression assessments and final viva. An online Hub is provided, which contains a wide range of resources to support learning and planning.
Full-time: approximately 3 years; Part-time: approximately 6 years Start date: September or January, annually
Start Date
September 2024
Start Date
January 2025
Fees & Funding
Alison Kelly
Alison Kelly - PhD Student Story

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