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?
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.
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?
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.
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 Code of Practice on Postgraduate Research Degrees (PDF, 158KB).
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.
A Professional Doctorate award represents an original contribution to knowledge but in a professionally focused context. It has similar demands and timescales to that of a PhD, but is notable by the title which relates to the students profession or area of work.
The programmes are delivered using a blended approach as students are usually in full time work whilst on programme. The first stage is devoted to taught modules with assessments. 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.
We offer Professional Doctorates in:
- Education (EdD)
- Social Work (DSW)
- Physiotherapy (Physiotherapy)
- Health Science (DHealthSci)
- Nursing (DNursing)
- Counselling (DCouns)
- Public Health (DPH)
- Health Education (DEdHealth)
- Pharmacy (DPharm)
- Criminology and Criminal Justice (DCrim)
How long does a Professional Doctorates take?
These programmes are offered on a part time basis only and are usually completed in 6 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:
- Clinical Pharmacy Practice
- Pharmacy (individual modules)
- Pharmacy (Professional MSc)
- Independent Prescribing
- Medical Education
- Health (individual modules)
- Health Professions Education
- Medical Education
- Medicine (individual modules)
- Nursing (individual modules)
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
97% of our research is classed as world-leading, or of international importance. REF 2014
96% graduate employability HESA destinations of leavers in Higher Education 2017
93% of our international postgraduate research students reported overall satisfaction PRES 2019
1st for affordability Marbles.com