I'm a Masters (Physics) student from India and I am looking to apply to the UK and Europe for a PhD for Autumn 2022. I am making a list of people I would like to work under. In doing so I have a few questions. I am set to graduate from my Masters in April 2022 and will have a thesis dissertation by then (which I have just begun work on).

Approximately at what point should I start emailing them to see if they'd be interested in considering my application (interview/submitting grades, transcripts etc). I would like to have at least my grades for this semester with me - which I will receive around early December. Would that be too late? I have seen a few funding deadlines in the UK around January. The reason I'm apprehensive about emailing now is because my second semester grades are quite bad (I'm in my third semester now). I've had a very good academic record throughout my Bachelor's (9+ CGPA /10) and my first semester of the Masters was also good (8.4/10), but thanks to Covid and having to move across the country in the middle of the semester, my second semester did not go well and so my overall CGPA dropped (7.67/10). I'm confident I will improve by the end of this semester. My Master's is also at a much better ranked university (Top 5 in my country) but I am not sure how much this will help offset the drop in grade.

If I am emailing professors, do I need to include all my details (scores, SOP and so on) in the initial mail itself, or can I just send an inquiry, with my CV and maybe mentioning a one or two of their papers which interests me.

2 Answers 2


In the UK at least, almost all science PhD scholarships are attached to specific projects or programmes, which will have published application dates on relevant department websites or places like FindAPhD.com . This will also have info on what's required for the application in terms of transcripts, CV etc.

So, for the vast majority of PhDs you don't have flexibility around waiting for grades - you'll just need to submit whatever you have at the deadline.

Having said that, the benefit of contacting professors early is also quite marginal. Typically all applications are collected and evaluated together after the closing date based on the submitted application paperwork alone, so any prior inquiries won't impact on that. If you do have a real specific question about the project/group you could mail the professor, but just announcing that you want to apply isn't going to affect the process in any way.


If you are applying to a PhD in the UK, it all comes down to how you plan to fund things. If you are applying to specific programs - generally either government or charity funded, but Stephen McMahon's answer is the way to go. In theory, for the first time last year, government funded programs are allowed to take up to 30% of their students from overaseas. Just look for the adverts and apply as though it were a job.

The alternative is that you plan to either fund the PhD your self (you'd need access to a LOT of money to do this), or apply for some sort of personal scholarship (an example open to indian students would be the Commonwealth fellowship). Scholarships will require you create an application together with the supervisor. This is a large time investment for both you and the supervisor. You'll want to look up the application deadline for whatever scholarship you are proposing, and contact maybe three months prior to this.

I'd probably suggest you don't contact a potential supervisor without an idea of how you will fund your studies. Its just possible they may know of some source open to you that you don't know about, but its unlikely.

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