A quick guide to a CV for a PhD application

How is a PhD CV different from other CVs?

Whilst it may include a lot of the same information, a CV for a PhD can be slightly different from a CV for a graduate job. Here are some key things to consider when writing a CV for a PhD application:

  • Emphasise your academic excellence.
  • Highlight your enthusiasm for your research topic through previous research experience, attendance at conferences etc.
  • Showcase research skills gained through Masters and Undergraduate dissertations or projects, lab work or specific technical skills where relevant.
  • Draw attention to modules and other courses you have taken that are especially relevant to the PhD topic.
  • If you will be undertaking duties such as teaching alongside the PhD, include relevant experience of working with students.
  • Your PhD CV may be slightly longer.

How is a PhD CV similar to a CV for a graduate job?

  • You should still ensure the layout is clear, concise, and professional.
  • It is still important to tailor your CV for the opportunity by providing evidence of relevant skills and experience.
  • You should still aim to keep language positive and achievement focussed. Don’t undersell yourself.

What should I include in my CV?

Personal details

Include your full name and contact details at the top of your CV.

Research interests

You can include a short summary of your research interests as an introduction to your CV. Make sure this is relevant to the PhD you are applying for to show your motivation towards that field.


Include the title, dates, institution and grades for your previous degrees. You may also include titles of relevant modules and research projects/dissertations.

Research experience

Summarise your Undergraduate and Masters research projects and any other research projects you have undertaken, either as part of your studies or elsewhere.

Additional experience/Positions of responsibility 

This section is an opportunity to showcase any additional experience and skills you have which are relevant to the PhD. If you will be taking some teaching duties as part of the PhD, you should include any experience you have that is relevant. Choose a title for this section that best fits your experience. Highlight transferable skills which will be useful for the PhD and give examples of how you have developed them. Also, highlight membership of any relevant societies or professional bodies.


If you have had any work published at this stage, make sure you include it. You will not be expected to have published work at this stage, so exclude this section if you haven’t.


You can include attendance at relevant conferences, particularly if you have presented. If this does not apply to you, exclude this section.


Provide a brief summary of your relevant extra-curricular interests. Use this section if your hobbies demonstrate an interest in your subject and/or research, or if your hobbies help you to demonstrate skills you will need to undertake a PhD (e.g. creativity, self-motivation) that you can’t show through your education or work experience.


You will normally need at least two academic referees. Ensure you ask their permission before you include their contact details.

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