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Graduate School

Graduate School

BNU welcomes applications for research degrees across a wide range of disciplines, including: Nursing, health and wellbeing; Art, design, performance and environment; Business, Management, Aviation and Security; and Higher Education.

We offer two types of research degree, Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). Although you study for both qualifications here at BNU, the degrees are awarded by Staffordshire University. So as a research student you’ll be registered with Staffordshire University and be formally enrolled here as we’ll be responsible for your supervision and support.

You can study for a research degree full-time or part-time. If you’re a full-time student, we expect you to spend at least 37 hours a week on your research, for at least 45 weeks of the year.

Vice-Chancellor's Studentships

The Vice Chancellor PhD Studentship Awards are available for new PhD candidates with up to four awards available per year. The award covers full-time tuition fees for a maximum period of three years and a bursary of £15,000pa for three years. Applications are open to both home and international students. Further details of how to apply are given below.

Impact Centres

Lecturer and students talking at a table in one of the study rooms in the Library

Centre for Advancement of Learning

  • Education
  • Practice education
Female lecture with male student talking about  work at desk

Centre for Enhancement of the Environment and Innovation

  • Environmental engineering
  • Aviation and tourism
  • Business and innovation
  • Computing and security
Male student sitting with lecture getting help with work
Centre for Enrichment of Culture and Identity
  • Art and design
  • Performance and media
  • Sociology and cultural identity
Nursing lecturer teaching a group of students
Centre for Improvement of Health and Wellbeing
  • Nursing
  • Allied Health
  • Sport therapy
  • Coaching and performance pathways
  • Sport psychology
  • Psychology and criminology
  • Social policy and social work

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

To receive a PhD, you have to research a topic that we have approved and present a written thesis at an oral examination. Your work should be an original contribution to knowledge, or an original application of existing knowledge. Your thesis should be up to 80,000 words and demonstrate a sound knowledge and critical appreciation of the discipline.

Master of Philosophy (MPHIL)

You can take the MPhil as a standalone qualification or as your first step towards the PhD. When you’re moving on to PhD level we ask you to reach a specific point in your MPhil studies.

To receive an MPhil, you’ll carry out research through independent supervised study. At the end of your studies you’ll present a thesis of up to 40,000 words and take an oral examination.

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To apply for the MPhil, or the MPhil with the chance to transfer to the PhD, you should have:

  • An Honours degree of 2:1 or above in a relevant subject from a UK university, or
  • A qualification which we recognise as being equivalent, such as an Honours degree awarded overseas.

To apply directly for the PhD, you should have:

  • A Masters degree awarded by a UK university, or
  • A Masters degree from a university overseas which is appropriate for the research you'd like to do, and which included training in research and the delivery of a research project.

If you don't meet the entry criteria, we could still consider you for a place. We’ll take into account the nature and scope of the work you’d like to do and might ask you for evidence of:

  • Professional experience
  • Appropriate research or professional experience at a postgraduate level
  • Publications
  • Written reports.

You should present this evidence and any supporting documentation along with your application.

Mode of studyMPhilPHDPhD (direct)

12 months (minimum)

24 months (maximum)

30 months (minimum)

48 months (maximum)

24 months (minimum)

48 months (maximum)


24 months (minimum)

48 months (maximum)

60 months (minimum)

96 months (maximum)

48 months (minimum)

96 months (maximum)

To apply for a research degree, send the following by email to ResearchUnit@bnu.ac.uk.

Applications are considered three times during the year, with the following deadlines and start dates:

Application deadlineStart date 
17 September 20231 February 2024
15 January 20241 May 2024
3 June 20241 October 2024
16 September 20241 February 2025


The Research Degrees Admissions Panel decides whether to invite the applicant for an interview.  All applicants are informed of the outcome of their application.

Successful applicants are informed of their start date and induction programme.

Research Tuition Fees for 2024-2025 are as follows:

Full Time study 
Overseas residents£14,600
Continuation of registration£250 per quarter until completion
Part Time study 
Overseas residents£7,300
Continuation of registration£250 per quarter until completion


Bench fees

For research proposals requiring extensive use of specialised University facilities, the University may quote a bench fee in addition to degree programme fees in a range up to £4,000 per year This will be determined before registration.

  • Fees will increase annually in line with the indicative fee levels set by Research Councils UK.
  • Details of Government loans to support Master's and Doctoral study can be found on the Gov.uk website.
  • For further information about research degrees at BNU please contact ResearchUnit@bnu.ac.uk

As part of our commitment to THRIVE 2028 to support research that impacts and enhances lives and underpins our educational offer, we are delighted to offer our prestigious BNU Vice-Chancellor Scholarship scheme.

These awards are aimed at outstanding postgraduate research (PhD) candidates across a range of disciplines and be aligned with our newly launched Impact Centres. The award covers full-time tuition fees for a maximum period of three years and a bursary of £15,000pa for three years. Applications are open to both home and international students. 

Applicants must satisfy all entry criteria for Doctoral candidates and be accepted through the normal application process (details above), with approval from Staffordshire University, to be eligible for an award. 

How to apply

When you apply for a place on a Buckinghamshire New University PhD programme, include the completed Studentship application form with your proposal and admissions application form.

It is advisable to discuss your proposal with a prospective supervisor at BNU before submitting your application. Details of areas of research undertaken at BNU are given above.