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The University of Southampton
Social Statistics and DemographyPart of Economic, Social & Political SciencePostgraduate study

How to Apply

Application process

To apply, please complete the online application form.


Applications can be submitted at any time although we would encourage applicants to apply before the end of May. If you are seeking financial support for your postgraduate studies, we recommend that you apply before the end of February so you have time to gather the necessary documentation for your funding body/sponsor.

PhD proposals

A research proposal is a project outline of around 2,500 words, which you write as part of the application process. We use it to assess the quality and originality of your ideas, whether you are able to think critically and whether you have a grasp of the relevant literature. It also gives us important information about the perspectives you intend to take on your research area, and how you fit into the discipline area's research profile overall. This will helps us assign a suitable supervisor for your project. We encourage you to identify and contact a prospective supervisor within our Division. However, please note that if your application is accepted we cannot guarantee that we will be able to allocate you to the supervisor you initially contacted.

It is normal for students to refine their original proposal in light of detailed literature reviews, further consideration of research approaches and comments received from the supervisors (and other academic staff). At the application stage, what we are looking for is clear evidence of potential for successful PhD study and a proposal which reflects that.

The proposal can be structured as follows:

General advice
The keys to writing a strong research proposal are to:

The following books are widely available from bookshops and libraries and may help in preparing your research proposal (as well as in completing your research degree):


For all applications, two academic references are required. Unfortunately we cannot consider applications until we have received both references.

Further information

For further information please contact us.

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