How To Apply

Step 1: Get in touch

Send an e-mail to Prof. Gordon Blair, director of HighWire. Tell him the following:

  • What, when and where you studied and your degree results (or what you expect to get at the conclusion of your current studies)
  • Your research topic. Be succinct. We will soon tell you if you are suitable and if we can support your research. This description should be carefully considered but in the acknowledgment that if successful it is very likely that your understanding and focus of your research topic will be modified during your MRes.
  • If we feel your ideas have potential for HighWire we will invite you to undertake a formal application.

Step 2: Develop a formal proposal

  • There is no national system for applying for PhD study in the way that UCAS operates at undergraduate level. To apply for PhD study, you therefore need to apply directly to Lancaster University.
  • A successful application will be dependent on the provision of two satisfactory references in addition to the other materials listed in

Proposal Guidelines

Normally a proposal should be between 1500 and 2000 words and will include the following:

  • A working title of the topic area
    This should do more than convey the key words associated with the proposed research.
  • General overview of the topic area
    This should take the form of a brief abstract of the general area of study and identify the discipline(s) within which it falls. You might also refer to the way in which your own background gives you competences in your chosen area or express your motivation.
  • Identification of the relevant literature
    In this section you should develop your proposal to demonstrate that you are aware of the debates and issues raised in relevant bodies of literature. References to a few key articles and texts should be made to show that you appreciate their relevance to your research area.
  • Key research questions
    Since you need to demonstrate that the topic can be completed within the normal time period allowed (usually three years), you need to demonstrate that it is manageable, and so focus on key indicative questions within your niche area.
  • Relevance of this proposal to the aims of HighWire
    This is a centre for post-disciplinary research in digital innovation that crosses between Computing, Design and Management. Show how your ideas will contribute to these aims.
  • Bibliography
    You should include a short list of references to key articles and texts included in your proposal.

Note that we do not seek a definitive proposal as the first year of HighWire is designed to be transformative and to shape your ideas towards a PhD topic, rather, we seek an indicative proposal that is illustrative of your interests at this stage and that demonstrates to us the potential within your topic for cross-disciplinary thinking.

Step 3: Apply online

To apply online please visit

All applications to HighWire must be made using the Lancaster University online applications system. Once you have completed your proposal, please upload this along with the other required documents to the online applications system. Please note that the HighWire team will only be informed of your application when all documents have been uploaded and your application is shown as complete.

Please include the following items in your online application:

  • Your formal proposal (see step 2 above)
  • Academic transcripts for each of your qualifications
  • 2 references, 1 of which must be from an academic tutor
  • Your CV

If you have questions or concerns please contact us by e-mail or give us a call.

Step 4

You may wish to visit us in Lancaster to see facilities, meet some key people, and form an impression. Please get in touch. Selected applicants will be invited to a formal selection interview. Normally this would take place at Lancaster University although in exceptional circumstances we can offer to interview with two members of staff via telephone conference.

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