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Applying for the PhD

If you are interested in applying for a place on our PhD programme in Mathematics of Systems, you can submit an online application via the University of Warwick Online Application Portal. Please apply to the programme code is G1P4 and advise in your application that you are applying to the MathSys PhD programme. Please also advise of the specific project you are applying to. In accepting an offer from us, you are committing to abide by our CDT Terms and ConditionsLink opens in a new window. These are in addition to any Terms and Conditions of the University.


Please read the Postgraduate step by step guide for help with the application process. A guide to writing an effective research proposal (aimed at new applicants to the university) can be found on the Postgraduate Admissions webpages, and may be of some use.

International applicants must have, or be expected to achieve, an English language test certificate that meets our Band A English language requirements. Please see our Study pages for the English Language qualifications accepted by the University of Warwick.

Your application must contain two references from academic staff who have taught you on your current or most recent degree.

The University will accept professional references if you have been out of higher education for over two years. These must be submitted by your current or most recent line manager. Please note that personal references, such as those from family and friends, are not acceptable.

Please note: if any of your qualification documents are not in your current name, you will also need to provide evidence of your change of name. This can be uploaded in the same file as your qualification documents within the application system.

Proposing a PhD project
Your project should be in the area of “Mathematics for Real-World Systems”. The CDT’s bid for funding to the EPSRC was based principally on four application areas, and your project should align closely with one of these:

(1) Quantitative biomedical research
(2) Mathematical epidemiology
(3) Socio-technical systems
(4) Advanced modelling and optimisation of industrial processes

Additionally, your project must align with at least one of the funding council’s key research areas: https://epsrc.ukri.org/research/ourportfolio/researchareas/

Your project must involve a named external partner, and two supervisors. Your primary supervisor must be a member of academic staff from the University of Warwick who has the necessary expertise to supervise your project for the duration of your registration as a PhD candidate. Your second supervisor can be external to Warwick. Your external partner can act as your second supervisor. If your primary supervisor is in their probation period, a second Warwick supervisor will be required.

MathSys PhD students are expected to complete and submit their theses by the end of the third PhD year (or the end of their funded period, whichever is sooner) but a fourth (unfunded) year of PhD registration is allowed by the University for “writing up”.

The role of the supervisor
A MathSys PhD project must offer the student opportunities to tackle a real-world system problem; to do some original mathematics for it, or to make an original application of mathematics to it; to develop the student into an independent researcher; and to produce research worthy of publication. We expect the majority of the ‘problems’ to come from a MathSys external partner but the formulation of the problem should be done in close collaboration with intended supervisor(s) to ensure alignment with the University’s requirements for a PhD. Potential Warwick supervisors are welcome to propose their own contacts as external partners.

Before agreeing to supervise a student, supervisors should satisfy themselves that they have the necessary knowledge and expertise to supervise the project which the student wishes to undertake; that they have sufficient time to dedicate to the supervision effort in order to support the academic trajectory/evolution of the student; that the project is appropriate for the degree concerned and can reasonably be undertaken with the resources available and in the required timescale; and that they are confident, as far as is possible, that the student has the capacity to undertake the project successfully. The university’s guidance for supervisors can be found hereLink opens in a new window.

It is be a condition of accepting a MathSys student that the supervisor agrees to sit on the Advisory Committee for a small number of other MathSys students, to support the CDT in its efforts to ensure the healthy development of our student body and support structure. Applicants should ensure that their proposed supervisor(s) is aware of and willing to do this.

The role of the external partner

All MathSys PhD projects must involve a named external partner.

  • The project formulation is agreed between the external partner, the academic supervisor(s) and the student
  • The external partner should pose a real-world problem and/or provide real-world data for the project
  • The external partner provides an external perspective on the project, helping the student to shape the project as it evolves
  • Matters such as IP rights, publication rights and any confidentiality issues can be covered by a collaboration agreement negotiated between the external partner and the University of Warwick, if necessary

Application checklist

For an application to be complete and ready to be considered by the CDT, applicants must ensure they have completed all of the following:

  1. Completed and submitted the online application form via the University of Warwick Online Applications Portal
  2. Paid the application fee. Since we are externally funded, we cannot waive the application fee.
  3. Received email notification of your Applicant ID Number from the University of Warwick Postgraduate Admissions Office.
  4. Clearly stated in your personal statement that you wish to be considered for the relevant course (course code P-G1PG).
  5. Provided information in your application on your general motivation for the course, what you hope to achieve on the course, and how your education and experience to date would make you suitable for the course.
  6. Provided contact details of two academic referees, and advised them in advance that they will be contacted by the University of Warwick to submit a reference to support your application to study.
  7. Provided transcripts of your previous qualifications, and of any marks you have achieved to date on any current study you are undertaking.
  8. Provided an up-to-date CV (this can be uploaded under 'Additional Information' on the Qualifications page of the online application form).
  9. For EU and international candidates, you should also provide a certified English translation of your transcripts and certificates if they are not in English, and confirmation of your English Language Proficiency.

What happens after I apply?

Your online application and supporting documents will be considered by our Admissions Tutors. If your application is taken forward to the next stage, applicants will usually be interviewed. The application review process usually takes several weeks and we appreciate your patience.