Contacting a potential supervisor

Your chances of a successful application will be greatly increased if you do some research to find the right supervisor.

Would you respond to an email that seems unrelated to your interests? Probably not. So it pays to do your homework before you get in touch with a potential supervisor.

Read everything you can find about our research topics, institutes and supervisors - then ask yourself: which supervisor's research most closely matches my interests? Would I be happy to study with that person for several years? Does it say on their website whether they are accepting new students at the moment?

Be targetted and specific

Look closely at the person's web-page and read some of their published work before you introduce yourself. Say why you are emailing and explain why their research interests you so much.

Be brief

In the main text of your message (not just in attachments), briefly describe your background: what you have studied so far, your degree result or grade average, any relevant experience, and your funding situation. It is okay to attach a CV, but the supervisor may not open it unless you have already explained why they should be interested in you as a potential student.

Be patient

Academics tend to be very busy and it may take time for them to answer your email. If you do not receive a reply after a week or two, send a polite follow-up email. If that doesn't work, start looking for an alternative supervisor.

Still not sure?

If you have  read through everything and you are still genuinely unsure who to contact, send an enquiry to the Institute you are most interested in, or to our Graduate School. Note, it is possible to change topic and/or supervisor once you arrive if your interests develop and change over your first months of study.

It is also possible to apply without having contacted a supervisor, but we wouldn't recommend it. Although final decisions can only be made on the basis of your formal application, you will improve your chances of success if you already have an academic who is willing to supervise you.


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