Research degrees

Undertaking a research degree such as an MPhil, PhD, or Professional Doctorate is an intellectual challenge like no other. It’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in the subject you are passionate about, set your own work goals, and make an important contribution to your field.

Why choose Derby?

Find out how we support our researchers

Technician working on equipment

Academic themes

To develop the most innovative solutions to real-world problems, we collaborate across six academic themes. Aligned to some of the local and global challenges we face, our interdisciplinary approach brings our experts together to deliver the greatest impact.

Explore our six academic themesExplore our six academic themes

Research degree options at Derby


For a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) you will undertake independent research that makes a substantial original contribution to knowledge in your chosen field. A PhD usually takes three years full-time and up to six years part-time for students to complete their research and submit their thesis for examination, and you will be assigned at least two academic supervisors who will support you.  If you already have a body of research, you may be able to take a shorter route: a ‘PhD by Published Works’

An MPhil/PhD by Published Works is a shorter, alternative route for those that already have a published body of work, which could include creative works. It usually takes one year full-time or two years part-time to submit the critical appraisal for examination. This route is designed to provide doctoral recognition for your previous research achievements. You need to provide a critical appraisal of these works, similar to the thesis requirements for a traditional MPhil/PhD.


The MPhil (Master of Philosophy) is a postgraduate research masters, which is essentially a smaller-scale PhD. It can be part of a PhD or a step toward one, but you can also study it as a standalone qualification. It usually takes a maximum of two years full-time or three years part-time for students to complete their research and submit their thesis for examination. If your project isn’t extensive enough for a PhD, or you want a shorter qualification, an MPhil is a good option.

Find out how MPhils/PhDs work

If you are applying for either a funded (studentship) or self-funded MPhil/PhD, follow our guidance on how to write a research proposal.

Silhouette of a woman writing an equation on a whiteboard.

Our research students

Find out about some of our postgraduate research students and the projects they are working on.

Our research student profilesOur research student profiles