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Research that makes a difference

University of Stirling

At the University of Stirling, our researchers are truly making a difference. We’re working to improve the lives of people with dementia, feeding communities through sustainable aquaculture research and finding creative ways to inspire better health and wellbeing.

Our challenge-led research is conducted to the highest standards of quality and integrity, with more than 80% of the University’s research classed as either world-leading or internationally excellent (REF2021).

Stirling is ranked 1st in the UK for research impact in Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science – and we’re also top 15 in the UK for geography and environmental studies research (REF2021). In 2019, our world-renowned Institute of Aquaculture’s pioneering work was recognised with the UK’s most prestigious academic honour: the Queen’s Anniversary Prize.

Discover more about research at the University of Stirling.

Why undertake a PhD at Stirling?

At the University of Stirling, our aim is simple: we want our research to change lives and tackle the global issues of our time. That’s why we provide the best conditions for our thriving community of 6,000 UK and international postgraduate students studying with us.

All our facilities are rated five-star (QS Stars University Ratings 2021), and the University scored 85% for its research environment in REF2021. A huge part of that environment centres on the collaborative approach at the heart of our research – not just working across disciplines but also with business, other universities, the public sector and government. Our academics are experts in their fields, internationally-recognised and shaping research groups and hubs.

As a postgraduate researcher at Stirling, you’ll benefit from our Institute for Advanced Studies. The Institute offers a wide range of support and development opportunities, including access to our Researcher Development Programme and Careers and Employability Service.

You’ll also benefit from the recent completion of our £40m investment to create an iconic sports complex, study spaces and social spaces at the heart of our breath-taking 330-acre campus. These new facilities include a brand-new research collaboration space designed to encourage knowledge exchange and help you to develop your research passion.

This passion for research excellence has recently helped the University attract major investment that positions Stirling at the heart of regional growth and research innovation. Plans are in place for a new £17 million Aquaculture Hub and £5 million International Environment Centre at the University – and we would love for you to be a part of this incredibly exciting time at one of Scotland’s leading research institutions.

Find out more about our PhD subject areas and current PhD opportunities.

Research that makes a difference

Our research

Research at Stirling is encompassed within three overarching themes: Cultures, Communities and Society; Global Security and Resilience; and Living Well. Within these themes, we have 12 research programmes which highlight the strength of strategic research activity at Stirling.

Staff in our five academic faculties are the starting point and driving force behind the research taking place at the University. We have an outstanding record of conducting world-leading and internationally excellent research.

Staff collaborate across divisions and with external partners to produce research that sparks new conversations, informs government policies and impacts lives for the better.

Check out our faculty research.


At the University of Stirling, we offer a variety of funding opportunities to support ambitious researchers from all backgrounds (and from around the world).

Funding support and studentships for UK and EU residents may be available for eligible students via the UK Research Councils, and students from England and Wales may be able to secure a doctoral loan from the relevant regional funding body.

Alternatively, the University can connect you with a number of research scholarships designed exclusively for students joining us from overseas.

Find out more about funding your research.

How to apply

If you’ve got the drive and the potential to join our ground-breaking research community, here’s how you can apply for a research degree at the University of Stirling.

Step 1: Develop your research proposal
Step 2: Choose a subject area
Step 3: Apply online

Research that makes a difference

Academic Units