Research degrees

The School of the Built Environment has a dynamic and thriving research programme within a research environment that is internationally recognised for its quality and impact. Research students play a vital role in the school and are integrated into all aspects of academic life through research groups, involvement in research projects, seminar series and teaching. Students also benefit from being members of the Faculty’s Doctoral Training Programme which combines peer and tutor support with delivering the latest high-level training in all aspects of becoming a researcher. The School has close links with practice and participates in international networks and exchanges, creating opportunities for students to develop a wide range of skills and expertise.

The School has links related to real estate and construction with over 80 universities in around 27 countries and works closely with both industry and practice. Often there are opportunities for collaborative research with these partners, as well as exchanges, study overseas and other linkages.

Research degree routes

  • MSc by research
  • MPhil
  • MPhil transferring to PhD
  • PhD direct (only for students who have recently completed a master’s or MPhil degree in an area closely related to the proposed research topic)
  • PhD by published work (only for students who have prior association with Oxford Brookes University)

Students are advised to consider how their studies will be funded prior to making an application (see Current Fees and Funding section).

We invite you to explore the research student profiles page to view a selection of current research degree projects.

What research can we supervise

Applications are welcomed from students whose research interests complement those of the research groups namely the:

  • Real Estate and Land Policy
  • Construction and Project Management
  • Spatial Planning Group that covers research in all areas of urban planning, including in developing and transitional economies.
  • Impact Assessments Group that focuses on key current topics such as planning and climate change as well as environmental decision-making and procedures for assessing the environmental impacts of developments.
  • Urban Design Group that engages with place-making, design and conservation, resilient cities, place-identity and sustainable urban design.

These groups are represented in the Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development (OISD) where teams work in an integrated way to address questions of global significance relating to energy, carbon and social and economic sustainability in the built environment.

Current supervisors:

Why study here

The School of the Built Environment is dedicated to offering an outstanding experience for research students. As a research student you will enjoy the following benefits:

  • You become a member of one of the School’s high quality ambitious research groups
  • You will study alongside talented academics working in similar fields
  • While you engage in your own research, you have opportunities to interact with a dynamic research environment that is actively engaged in consultancy projects, teaching and writing funding proposals
  • Students benefit from automatic membership of the Faculty’s Doctoral Training Programme which brings together staff and students from the Schools of Architecture, Mechanical Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, Computing and Communication Technologies and the School of Art)
  • The DTP combines generic training and support with detailed subject specific methods training through the Environment Strand of the DTP which caters for both full and part time study and is run by the School
  • A wide variety of optional training courses, student events, lectures and other opportunities delivered through the DTP which brings together all students in the Faculty in a strong cohort
  • 24-hour access to digital suites with specialist programmes such as Building Information Modelling (BIM), ArchiCAD, Revit, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) modelling, 3D Studio Max and, Rhino 3D, NVivo and SPSS
  • Close links that exist with the UK and international practice, industry and government
  • All students are allocated a Director of Studies and at least one other supervisor who they meet with regularly
  • A range of personal support that includes access to a wide range of staff who are available for consultation. The University operates a Research Student Entitlement which ensures students receive appropriate and generous support and opportunities to present their work at conferences

Entry requirements

Applicants should normally hold a 1st or Upper Second Class Degree (or recognised equivalent qualification), but appropriate applications will be considered from outstanding candidates with substantial prior experience at an appropriate level.

If English is not your first language you will need to provide one of the following language certificates:

  • IELTS at least 6.5 overall (with no less than 5.5 in any element);
  • PTE Academic at least 58-65 overall (with 51 in reading and writing, 51 in listening and speaking) depending on the subject.

IELTS and PTE Academic English language test results are only valid for two years. Your English language test report must be valid on the proposed start date of the programme, should your application be successful. Evidence of English language proficiency must be provided along with other supporting documents, in the form of a good quality copy of the certificate.

As a result of very recent changes made by UK Visas & Immigration, please note we no longer regard TOEFL as an acceptable language test for entry to Oxford Brookes. This applies whether you require a Tier 4 student visa or not. You can find more details on our English language requirements pages

If you do not meet these requirements you may be able to take our University English as a pre-sessional course

Current fees and funding

For further information on current fees and living costs please refer to the university finance pages

Current students have awards from a wide range of external bodies including industry, government bodies and charities, and others are self-funded. The university have a number of faculty specific and competitively allocated scholarships which, when available, are advertised on our Research Funding Opportunities page and on

In addition, details of available external international scholarships and funding are available at the university's Scholarships and Bursaries page

Applicants should be able to pay the university’s tuition fees, either personally or through grants, sponsorship or other awards made in their favour. Applicants receiving awards should be able to present evidence of their funding at the time of application, usually in the form of a letter from the awarding body. Self-funded international students should be aware that the UK Border Agency will require evidence that a candidate can pay their first year’s fees before they will grant a student visa.

When should you apply

Our MPhil, MPhil/PhD and PhD Direct programmes are three term programmes and have a choice of start dates throughout the year in September, January and April. Our Masters by Research and PhD by Published Work programmes are two term programmes and have two possible start points, September and January. Applications to the research degrees programme can be made up to 12 months prior to the start of the programme. It is recommended that you apply at least 6 months in advance to allow adequate time for your application to be processed (in the case of UK/EU applicants no less than 4-6 weeks).

You should allow sufficient time to complete the application process and apply for an appropriate visa (this usually takes between 3-6 weeks to be completed) and to make arrangements to move to Oxford in time for the start of semester.

How do you apply

The application process is broken down into 5 steps:

  1. Check essential requirements

    In order to be considered for the programme you will have to meet our application requirements and programme entry requirements. Before you apply, please check you meet entry requirements (such as academic qualifications and English Language requirements), as well as the financial requirements of the programme.

    Ask yourself the following questions:

    • Do I meet the programme entry requirements?
    • Do I meet the English language requirements?
    • Have I considered the financial requirements? (including tuition fees and living costs)
    • Do I have the supporting documents that I am required to submit with my application form?
  2. Explore our research groups and supervisory staff pages

    Explore the research groups and their associated staff to see how your chosen field of study aligns with the research portfolio within the school.

  3. Agree your research

    At this stage you should contact Prof Ramin Keivani (, +44 (0)1865 483204) for Real Estate and Construction or Dr Sue Brownill (, +44 (0)1865 483877) for Planning and Urban Design and advise them that you are considering making an application. You are also welcome to contact particular academics to help you develop your ideas.

  4. Formulate your proposal

    When you have agreed a research project with the Prof Ramin Keivani ( and Dr Sue Brownill (, Postgraduate Research Tutors, you will be asked to prepare a proposal. You can indicate any staff members whom you would like to work with, or the postgraduate research tutors will circulate your proposal to the most appropriate staff to get their comments. If the proposal is accepted Ramin or Sue will ask you to make a formal application, or give you advice on how the proposal may be improved.

    For guidance on writing a PhD research proposal see our Guide to writing PhD Research Proposals

  5. Gather required documents and submit:

    Our MPhil/PhD programme requires additional supporting documentation to be submitted as part of the application process. Before applying through UCAS Postgraduate please make sure you gather the following supporting documentation:

    • Research proposal
    • Scan of your passport - to confirm your name and date of birth. We will then ensure that any offer letters issued to you correspond with your passport name, this will help when applying for a student visa.
    • IELTS Certificate or equivalent (if required) – no older than two years from the proposed start date of your programme.
    • Scan of your final degree certificates already awarded.
    • Scan of transcripts
    • Two references (at least one academic) - your references must be on institutional headed paper and be dated and signed by referee(s). They can be uploaded online to UCAS Postgraduate at either the initial application stage (if the referee permits the reference to be shared with you), or can be sent directly to the Research Administrator in the Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment in a sealed envelope, or emailed. Please note that it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure their referees supply these documents.
    • Evidence of funding (if sponsored by an employer or government, you must provide evidence in the form of a recently dated sponsorship letter on official headed paper. If supporting your studies from private funds, you must provide a recently dated bank statement).

    After your UCAS Postgraduate application has been submitted, these documents can be e-mailed directly to the Research Administrator in the Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment ( Please note that you will need to provide certified translations of any documents which are not in English.

    Submit your application through UCAS Postgraduate

    You can apply for any of our MPhil/PhD programmes at UCAS Postgraduate (www.UCAS, the online application system used by Oxford Brookes. Please log onto UCAS Postgraduate and complete your application. You can save your draft as you go, log out and return to it later if you wish. At this stage your application can only be seen by you. If you have any difficulty completing your application, you can call the UCAS Postgraduate Helpline on +44 (0)871 334 4447. If you are calling from outside the UK, please call the international telephone number: +44 330 333 0235, Monday to Friday, 08:30-18:00 (UK time).

    You should note that we cannot consider your application for admission until all the documents noted above have been received, including financial documentation.