Steps to apply

We are very pleased that you are considering applying for our PhD programme and look forward to receiving your application. How to start the PhD application process is outlined below:

  1. Check the Imperial College entry requirements to ensure you meet the minimum entry criteria for research.

    International Applicants may need to meet additional requirements aligned to:

  2. Visit the research and academic staff pages of the Aeronautics website to identify topics of interest and appropriate supervisors.
  3. Contact your chosen supervisor(s) directly, to devise or discuss potential projects.
  4. Make your official PhD application via the Imperial College online application system. Make sure you state your chosen topic and supervisor(s) on the form and details of any department/College funding you may be applying for, as well as attaching all necessary documents.
  5. Your proposed supervisor will contact you to arrange for an interview.
  6. After your interview, your supervisor will tell you if they would offer a PhD position and/or would be nominating you for funding (if appropriate).
  7. You can expect to receive a decision on your application within 8-10 weeks of applying (the application can be tracked via your Student e-Service account.

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More details about the applications steps

Entry requirements

Graduates with a degree in engineering, any of the physical sciences, mathematics, biological sciences, physiology or medicine may be accepted for a PhD. We will normally only accept applicants with a good 2:1 or 1st class degree from a UK university, or non-UK equivalent.

  • Please check the Imperial College entry requirements to ensure you meet the minimum entry criteria for research.
  • As part of the application process we will ask applicants to show that they have met the College’s English-language requirement. Details can be found here.

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Important dates

PhD applications can be made all year-round. However, we encourage to apply early which means a year prior to a start in October.  Specific application deadlines apply if applicants would like to be considered for scholarships. Such deadlines are driven by the funding requirements.

There will be an initial round of funding for applications submitted by early November. We would particularly advise all students requiring funding to apply by the January deadline at the very latest.

Please refer to the application deadlines highlighted on the Imperial College Scholarship page for full details.

What to prepare before applying

  • Preparing your CV
    Your CV should summarise your educational qualifications and awards and indicate any relevant research experience, internships or relevant work experience. Please also include a list of relevant publications with web links if available. Please ensure that the CV is no longer than 2 pages.
  • Preparing your personal/research statement
    The personal/research statement shall have a brief description of the general research areas and topics that interest you and should not be longer than 2.0 pages. Please address the following points:
    a) motivation for the research (i.e. why the topic is important and potential applications for which your research could be useful),
    b) research project you would like to work on,
    c) your initial ideas on the research methodology (e.g. what sort of simulation or experimental techniques) you intend to pursue to address the research issues.
  • Contact details of two academic referees:  All applicants are required to provide the names and contact details of two academic referees. Please note that references sent from personal email account are not acceptable. More information about this can be found on the selection criteria page.

How to submit application

Applications are only accepted through the Imperial College Online Application System. In order to apply online, please complete the steps as explained on the How to Apply page.

Please note that applications are formally processed by the Department once a complete application has been received and processed by the College Registry. If one or both references are missing we need to hold the application pending. We strongly recommend you also read the information on the Postgraduate pages of the Imperial College website.

The Department has an equal opportunities policy. Applicants are invited to declare their disability to our PhD Admissions Tutor in order to discuss suitable arrangements for the application process and PhD studies. The Department would like to ensure that best possible support is provided for all applicants and students. Please also see the College's Disability Advisory Service pages.

Once you have submitted your application for postgraduate study, you will be able to monitor the progress of your application via our Student e-Service.  Within 12 working days of submitting your application you will receive an email containing a unique identify number called a CID. Please include this number in any emails you send us. Your application is initially sent to the Engineering Admissions team in our Registry. They will assess your qualifications and then send your application to the Department.  When the Department's admissions team receives your application we pass it on to the relevant research group, and send you an acknowledgement email.

Your application will be considered by the academic staff in the research group working in the area specified on your application.   If you have given the name of a potential supervisor, it will be sent to them first; although other members of staff working in that area will also review your application. If you are short-listed for a place you will have an interview with your potential supervisor and one of their colleagues, although an interview can also already happen when you start discussing a project with a potential supervisor.

 Usually, you can expect to receive a decision on your application within 8-10 weeks of the application arriving in the Department.

How to make a strong application

Remember the general rules:

  • Scholarship schemes have deadlines: Apply on time.
  • Ensure the application is complete.
  • Ideally, applicants should have contacted a supervisor already.

 All eligible PhD applicants are considered according to the same scholarship allocation criteria, which are:

  • Academic qualifications/excellence.
  • Motivation and enthusiasm to do research and the PhD:
    Explaining the reasons why you want to do research and this PhD; why the topic is important to you.
  • Research experience: Any projects, placements, internships done, showing the skills relevant for the PhD and research.
  • Research output: Such as publications, conference talks or scientific papers.
  • Honours and awards: List any prizes, special mention, awards, scholarships, grants, honours.

Preparing for interview

All applicants must be interviewed before a formal offer of admissioncan be made. This interview will be conducted by at least 2 members of academic staff; on occasions the Director of Postgraduate Studies Research or the Head of Department may be present.

Normally, interviews are carried out face-to-face. If it is not feasible for the candidate to meet with the potential supervisor – for instance if they are an overseas applicant – candidates may be interviewed by phone or via Skype.

During the interview the applicant should be evaluated according to criteria such as:

  • Academic qualifications
  • Experimental/theoretical skills
  • Specific interests/work experience (academic and/or industry)
  • Motivation
  • Suitability for interdisciplinary research

The interview should be carried out in English and should last at least 30-40 minutes.