What is a research degree?

A research degree, also known as a doctorate, is the highest degree awarded by UK Universities. There are several varieties of degree and we have outlined the differences below. If you still have a question, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

The aim of a PhD, DM or MPhil is to make an original contribution to knowledge in a specific field by refining understanding and developing new ideas.

Students will be required to manage a research project, based on their area of interest, with the support of a dedicated supervisory team.

Supervisors will provide comments on their student's work which will ultimately form a written thesis consisting of 100,000 words (maximum) for PhD or 60,000 words (maximum) for MPhil.

The thesis must then be defended in a viva voce (spoken) examination and support and training is provided, to help students prepare for this.

How long does a PhD or DM take?

Full-time

Students normally complete their active research over a three-year period. A fourth year can then be used to write the thesis and prepare for the spoken examination.

Part-time

Students normally complete their active research over a six-year period. The seventh/eighth year can then be used to write the thesis and prepare for the spoken examination.

How long does an MPhil take?

Full-time

Students normally complete their active research over the first year. The second-year can then be used to write the thesis and prepare for the spoken examination.

Part-time

Students normally complete their active research over two years. The third/ fourth year can then be used to write the thesis and prepare for the spoken examination.

In some instances, students complete a PhD or MPhil degree in less time and guidelines for the minimum study periods can be found within the University Code of Practice

When can I apply?

We offer year-round entry on to our PhD, DM and MPhil programmes.

Professional doctorate programmes are increasingly the choice of professionals in a number of fields, particularly health and education.

The programmes have similar demands to that of a PhD but are structured slightly differently. Divided into two stages, with the first stage devoted to professionally focused teaching with assessments - the number of credits and modules will vary with the programme. The second stage focuses on research with students managing a research project usually based on their professional practice. The final degree is awarded on the basis of a thesis discussing said research project, in the same way as for a PhD and signifies a body of research but in a professional practice.

We offer Professional Doctorates in:

How long does a Professional Doctorates take?

These programmes are offered on a part time basis only and can take a maximum of eight years.

When can I apply?

Professional doctorate programmes have a single entry each year. Please visit the course pages for additional information.

 

A large proportion of UK Research Council funding for postgraduate research studentships (PGRs) is now awarded to institutions via Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) and Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs). These are flagship doctoral training programmes which combine cutting-edge doctoral study with a dynamic, innovative and interdisciplinary research culture that aims to develop future research leaders. Keele is involved in the following CDTs and DTPs. View our centres and partnerships here.

Distance learning programmes are a flexible way to study for a research degree.

The programmes allow students to develop their career without leaving employment and to earn whilst studying.

The structure and assessments vary depending on the subject area and further information can be found within the individual course route pages.

We offer distance learning research degrees in:

As with other research degree programmes, students will have a supervisory team who will support them through their studies and comment on their work.

We use various online platforms to ensure students feel apart of the postgraduate training community, providing access to training materials and multimedia resources that will help to develop essential research skills.

Facts and Figures