Quick links

Ways to study a research degree at Cranfield
How to complete the application form
Applying through an agent
What documents do I need to provide with my application?
Personal statements
Writing a personal statement
Research proposals
Security clearance for Shrivenham
Admission of research students with prior research work
Visiting students

Ways to study a research degree at Cranfield

Funded research opportunities

We have a range of existing research projects. These are usually fully-funded opportunities, often in collaboration with industry and research councils. To view all of the available research opportunities and apply please visit our Research Opportunities page.

Individual research projects

If you have an area of research that you would like to explore further, then please use our Expert Finder to find a relevant academic supervisor.

You should include details of your chosen academic supervisor in your application so admissions can direct it to the right department.

Employment-related research projects

If you and/or your employer have a concept for a research project linked to your area of work then we can help you develop and support this. Many of our students are able to pursue a research degree whilst still working with their current employer and our flexible approach to learning and delivery ensures it is a balanced and fulfilling experience.

How to complete the application form

The application form contains the following sections:

  • Personal details
  • Contact details
  • Agent
  • Qualifications
  • Experience
  • Personal statement
  • Research interest
  • Referees
  • Funding
  • Submission

You can complete each section in any order you choose but they all must be completed and ticked before you can submit. The checklist page will show you which sections have not yet been started (star) have been completed (green tick), are incomplete (red cross).

Once you have submitted your application you will receive an email confirmation to confirm that it has been safely received. You will receive a further email, usually within a week of submitting your application, to confirm your username and password. This will allow you to access our applicant portal, EVE, through which you will be able to:

  • view your application and personal details,
  • check the status of your application,
  • upload documents, if required, in support of your application,
  • request a change to your application,
  • update your contact details,
  • withdraw your application (prior to receiving a decision),
  • ask for a deferral (if you have received an offer).

We require a personal statement, a research proposal, and a final transcript of your previous studies (or an interim transcript if you are still studying) before we will consider your application. If you do not provide these it will delay your application.

We only require electronic copies of these documents during the application process. Please do not send by post your original documents or copies, this will delay your application.

Applying through an agent

Cranfield University works closely with a number of selected agents who act as representatives and offer support to our applicants throughout the admissions process. Located in the UK or locally in your country, agents provide our applicants with key information and ensure smooth communication with the different departments at Cranfield.

If you are applying through one of our agents, you will be asked to provide details in your application form by selecting the agent from a list.

What documents do I need to provide with my application?

You will need to provide the following documents to support your application:

  • copies of your degree certificates and transcripts of your academic record
  • two references, where this is required for your chosen course
  • a personal statement outlining your suitability for the course
  • a research proposal
  • an English language test, if required

You will be asked to provide copies of degree certificates and academic transcripts to support your application. If you haven’t yet completed your studies, you should provide an interim transcript or other document which will show your academic performance so far and predicted degree outcome or grades.

These documents should be issued by your university’s academic office or registry department or equivalent. We are not able to accept transcripts provided by a personal tutor or similar.

If you are providing degree certificates or transcripts that are not written in English, you will also need to provide a certified translation.


If the research course you are applying for requires references, you will be advised of this requirement in the application form. These can be either academic or professional references depending on your own circumstances and whether you are still studying, have recently graduated or are in employment. Your referees should be able to outline your potential to study at postgraduate level.

You can provide your references in two ways:

  • provide details of your referees and their contact details. We will then contact your referees directly after you have submitted your application to request a reference.
  • or, if your referee has already provided you with a copy of the reference, you can choose to upload a copy with your application.

There may be a reason why you do not want your referee to be contacted yet. This may be because they are your current employer or if you have not yet asked them to be your referee. If this is the case, you are also able to confirm in your application that you do not want your referee to be contacted yet.

If you are uploading a pre-prepared reference provided by your referee, you should ensure that it has been signed and dated and is on letter headed paper. All references must have been provided within the last two years.

You will be able to manage your referees in our applicant portal, EVE, after you have submitted your application. You will be able to change your referees, send email reminders and upload copies of the reference. Please note it is your responsibility to ensure that references are supplied in support of your application.

Personal statements

You will be asked when completing the application form to provide a personal statement, of up to 500 words, outlining your academic history and personal experience. You can enter this directly into the application form, or you can choose to upload a separate document.

This is your opportunity to make an impression and demonstrate that you have the ability to succeed on your chosen course. You should outline your academic achievements, any skills and experience attained outside an academic setting, as well as any other information you feel is relevant to support your application.

You should also explain why you want to study at Cranfield and your motivation for choosing the course you are applying for.

Research proposals

If you are applying to conduct your own research for one of our research degree courses, you will need to provide details of your research interests in addition to a personal statement. You can enter this directly into the application form, or you can choose to upload a separate document.

If you already have an idea for your research project, you should consider contacting a prospective supervisor to discuss your ideas before you apply. You will be able to confirm in your application the name of the supervisor you have been in contact with. This will help speed up the process and ensure your application is reviewed by the correct supervisor.

If you are applying for an advertised research project, the research topic will be included in the application form when you open it, so you will not need to provide this.

Read our Research proposal writing guide for prospective students.

Security clearance for Shrivenham

Some of our courses are delivered at the UK Defence Academy in Shrivenham, which is a Ministry of Defence (MoD) site. All applicants to courses that are wholly or partially delivered at Shrivenham must complete the Shrivenham Station Baseline Personnel Security Standard Courses/Visitors/Employment (Annex D to SSSO 40) prior to registration or must already hold a security clearance to this level or higher.

Your Cranfield course application and clearance application will be shared during the application process with the MoD, which has ultimate discretion over admission to the Shrivenham site. This information will be returned by the MoD to Cranfield after checks are completed and copies will not be retained by the MoD. Clearance checks may involve confirmation of the following:

  • Identity (such as photo ID),
  • Nationality and immigration status,
  • Nationality and residency of relatives,
  • Criminal record (unspent convictions only).

Additionally, applicants are required to give a reasonable account of any significant periods of time spent abroad for themselves and their relatives (six months or more in the past three years).

This may be revised from time to time dependent on national security requirements. It will take additional time to process your clearance application once you have completed your course application.

If you are not able access the Shrivenham site because of a failure to meet security clearance requirements your offer will be withdrawn, or your registration terminated.

Admission of research students with prior research work

The University does not normally allow students to include research in their final thesis that has been undertaken outside of their period of registration. The exception to this is in cases where a student transfers to Cranfield from another university, usually with their primary supervisor.

In these cases, students should complete an online application for the research course they wish to transfer to. The application should include a document on headed paper from their previous university confirming details of the degree they were studying and the formal dates of registration. The document must be provided by the university’s central Registry or Student Records department and not from the academic supervisor.

Visiting students

We offer opportunities for students registered at other universities to spend time at Cranfield, either undertaking taught course modules and/or research, which can then be used for learning credits or their own research at their home institution.

Only those registered as students at another university can be accepted by Cranfield as a visiting student. Examples of visiting students include:

  • A student registered for a PhD at another institution. The PhD student is not registered to receive a Cranfield degree, but requires access to our specialist facilities in order to undertake specific research or research training linked to their other studies.
  • Students from another university attending one or more modules on a formal exchange or student mobility programme. These students are not registered for a Cranfield degree.
  • Students who are taking a single Cranfield MSc module, as part of a consortium agreement with one or more other universities, and where one of those partners is taking the lead in managing the student’s overall programme of study.
  • Undergraduate students at other universities, who are attending Cranfield as part of a placement.

It is not possible to register visiting students in the following situations:

  • People undertaking research on a temporary or short-term contract (paid or unpaid);
  • Visiting professors;
  • Secondary school students, or undergraduates, on work experience;
  • Registered students who have completed their degree studies and are undertaking additional research outside of their course for the School or department.

Visiting students do not apply through the standard application process and should instead contact admissions for further information.