PhD _ Research Students Pen y Fan

Why choose USW for postgraduate research?

Research that makes a difference

Providing solutions to problems that affect society and the economy is what underpins research at USW. Working collaboratively across sectors, our researchers bring talent and expertise to help communities, businesses and policy makers make a difference to society. Our research is connected to the world around us, engaging with challenges and opportunities to make tomorrow better. Almost two thirds of the USW researchers submitted to the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) have research that has been categorised as world leading or internationally excellent (4* or 3*).  

Contact us

Graduate School
8 Forest Grove
University of South Wales
Treforest Campus
CF37 1DL

Telephone: 01443 482881
Email: [email protected]

First in the UK for postgraduate research student support

The University of South Wales (USW) has been ranked the top institute for overall postgraduate research student satisfaction in a national survey.

In the annual Advance HE’s Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES), USW was first for postgraduate research student (PGR) satisfaction, at 89%, which was 10% higher than the sector average and 7.9% higher than other Welsh institutions. This represents a 6% increase in performance compared to last year. You can hear from some of our students here.

Diverse topics

We offer a number of postgraduate degree programmes alongside PhDs, including professional doctorates and Masters by Research. You may suggest your own research topic or apply for a specific advertised opportunity. You can apply for a self-funded PhD / Masters by Research in one of the following areas.

Explore our research groups

Work in a location that best suits you

We offer full and part-time options, as well as opportunities to undertake your postgraduate research degree remotely, depending on the nature of your project and the requirement to access 'on campus' facilities. Studying by distance is ideal for students who have commitments that prevent them from relocating or those who wish to do a research degree as part of their professional career, and for whom the research is an integral part of their daily role.

Students who are studying remotely receive the same level of support and supervision as on-campus students. If you think remote study may be for you, please discuss with the Graduate School and your proposed supervisors during the admission process so they can advise accordingly.

What we offer 

The Graduate School works in partnership with your supervisory team to support you throughout your postgraduate research degree. Our role is to help you to complete your research degree in a timely manner and provide an extensive programme of training and development so that you can fulfil your potential as a postgraduate researcher. Our training is aligned to Vitae's Researcher Development Framework.

In addition to the advice and support provided by the Graduate School and your supervisory team, Student Representatives work towards enhancing the quality of the student experience by liaising with senior managers from the University, taking forward students’ views and concerns, and ensuring that students are kept up to date with current initiatives and developments at USW. Each Faculty has its own dedicated representative.

Support to help you succeed

As a postgraduate research student, you can benefit from many other services, facilities and support such as our online libraryIT Support and equipment loan; Wellbeing; and the Disability Service which provides a range of support for students with disabilities. We also have research student representatives for each Faculty.

We change lives and our world for the better. We improve the prospects of people and places

Sharmila Mahesh Kumar, PhD Criminology

We have more than 400 postgraduate research students at USW. In the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey 2022/23, USW ranked 1st overall for student satisfaction. Read our student stories.

Prof Florence Ayisi

In the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF2021), 81% of USW’s research impact was classed as world leading or internationally excellent (4* / 3*). 

Dr Angelo Iannetelli graduated with first-class Honours from the BSc (Hons) Chemistry course at USW before progressing to a PhD. He is currently carrying out postdoctoral research with Professor Damian Bailey at USW.

We offer a number of postgraduate research programmes alongside PhDs, including Masters by Research and PhD by Portfolio. You may suggest your own research topic or apply for an advertised project.

jane maccuish, Graduate School

When you join USW as a postgraduate researcher, you will automatically become a member of the Graduate School. You will be given a dedicated person who will support you from application through to award.

Cardiff Research

The Graduate School provides an extensive programme of researcher training and development. Our Annual Postgraduate Researchers' Presentation Day gives you the chance to flex your presentation skills and network with peers.

Rhiannon Chalmers Brown, KESS PhD SERC and Tata Steel

We offer opportunities for external engagements to enhance your skills and extend your professional networks including presenting at conferences, undertaking hourly-paid lecturing or working with schools through the USW Student Ambassador Scheme, Brilliant Club or Soapbox Science.

Cardiff Bay GettyImages-1218061432.jpg

The University of South Wales is in an exceptional part of the UK, with city life, mountains and coast. We have three campuses in and around Cardiff, Wales’s capital city, which are easily reached by road and rail. See our campus tours below.


As well as on-campus study, we may offer the option to complete your studies remotely. The distance route allows you to work in a location that best suits your requirements, and you can choose to study on either a full or part-time basis.

Shannan PhD Chemistry, KESS

We also participate in the ESF-funded Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS 2) scheme, which provides funded Masters by Research study in collaboration with an active business or company partner.