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Top 20 UK Universities for PhD Study in 2022

Written by Marcus Holt

The United Kingdom has a world-famous higher education system and a large range of degree programmes, making it a very popular destination to study in. So, it’s no surprise that British universities are some of the highest ranking in the world.

But how do you choose the best university to study your PhD at?

It’s not always as straightforward as you might think but you can start by looking at the rankings. These tell you which UK universities are the most internationally respected and renowned.


Top 20 UK Universities in 2022
University THE 2022 QS 2022 ARWU 2021
University of Oxford 1 2 7
University of Cambridge =5 =3 3
Imperial College London 12 7 25
UCL =18 =8 17
London School of Economics and Political Science 27 49 151-200
University of Edinburgh =30 16 38
King's College London =35 35 47
University of Manchester 50 =27 35
University of Warwick =78 61 101-150
University of Glasgow =86 73 151-200
University of Bristol 92 62 78
University of Birmingham =105 90 101-150
University of Sheffield 110 95 101-150
Queen Mary University of London =117 117 201-300
Lancaster University =122 132 301-400
University of Southampton 124 77 151-200
University of Leeds =127 92 101-150
University of Nottingham 141 103 101-150
University of Exeter =143 =149 151-200
Newcastle University =146 134 201-300
Information in this table is based on the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings and Academic Ranking of World Universities. Visit their websites for more information.

So, how good are the top universities in the UK for PhD study?

The short answer is: very good! With 11 universities in the top 100 THE ranking, the UK has more top-ranked universities than any other European country.

In fact, the only other country to beat the UK globally is the USA. But, unlike the USA, all the UK’s top universities are publicly funded, reflecting their substantial investment in higher education.

Here we’ve given a brief introduction to university rankings. For a more detailed overview of how the system works and how to get the best out of it, check our guide to PhD rankings.

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Last Updated: 19 November 2021

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